Australia 16 June: Albury, NSW - Shepparton, Vic

Shepparton: a Sri Chinmoy Peace City

With a big day of running today, we ran our first 45 km into the first school at Rutherglen – but not before reading this excellent article by Sophie Boyd in this morning's The Border Mail in Albury.

The boys team's day got off to a great start with the complimentary continental breakfast at the Sundowner Hume Country Motor Inn. Letting 7 hungry male runners loose on the abundant choice of food is not a pleasant sight to behold but the food was delicious. We ran out of Albury across the Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom River, the mighty Murray River.  We had a big day of running and three out on the road at some stages for our 100 kilometre day.

Rutherglen Primary School was our destination, with St Mary’s Primary School also represented by their grades 5 and 6.

The students lined the street as the Peace Runners arrived and led us into the school grounds. The school hosted us in their under cover area and we also had some leadership students from the nearby school of St Mary's come along.

Two students, Flynn and Ruby, had prepared a speech to read about Peace.

Excerpts from Flynn’s speech:

“Peace as One

Peace, we all have our own
…So where can we find it, by knocking down old walls and building new ones or by stopping the starting of wars? Maybe by giving people chances, or letting people have a part of our heart.
It isn’t other people’s job to create peace for you, you can turn your dreams into realities, it is all up to you.
We can find peace in the darkest of times, all you have to do is turn on the light….
This is our peace.”

Flynn Habets and Ruby Burgess came up on behalf of Rutherglen Public School and Tilly Steele and Tyler Benbow on behalf of St Mary’s Primary School to accept the Certificates of Appreciation.

The students gave us all high fives when we left. For the ceremony it was nice seeing two neighbouring schools come together. Peace starts in the heart then it spreads to the community.

With such a tight schedule today, one of our runners set off when it was time to pass to torch to the students, with the rest of the team catching up after spending some more time with the students.

A quick 47 km later ...

... the Peace Run team arrived at Sacred Heart Primary School in Yarrawonga.

Seeing a vast sea of over 400 students, we challenged them with the country guessing game… which they promptly got all correct! They all joined us in the song and actions.

The students offered their soulful prayers inside their hearts and in their inside assembly area.

Joe and Paige came to accept the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the school.

We had a few minutes to answer any questions the students had. One student asked why we do the Peace Run. Eniko explained her reason: she said she feels happy when she runs and hopes that when she feels happy and her friends feel happy, everyone will feel happy!

As one of our team members ran out, the support vehicle took a wrong turn only to be directed back on track by Les – from the local Yarrawonga Chronicle – who was catching us anyway for a short photo shoot.

It was a further 83 km to Shepparton. Both our speed and endurance were tested!

Our final ceremony was with the mayor of Greater Shepparton.

Mayor Dinny Adem met the small team of runners when the Peace Run visited Shepparton last year and looked forward to meeting us again.

His heartfelt speech on the message of peace and their pride in becoming a Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom City was touching.  "Greater Shepparton is joining the Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom family by becoming a Peace-Blossom City," he said, "joining it with other Peace-Blossoms around the world including Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef and the Taj Mahal. Peace-Blossoms help spread a lasting reminder of peace to the community and world at large."

Also in attendance was Deputy Mayor, Cr Kim O’Keeffe, her bright smile showing the leaders of Shepparton are true examples to Australian civic leaders.

Local obstetrician and peace runner Tihomir Jordjik came with his wife Liliana. In previous years Tiho has been heavily involved in Peace Run Ceremonies, sowing the seeds for the city becoming a Peace-Blossom.

Two refugee students and best friends from Afghanistan who attend Shepparton High School came at Tiho's invitation and talked about the importance of peace. For Rubina Haidari and Latifa Haidary the sad realities of war meant they had to leave their homeland and they dream of a world full of peace, with Rubina saying "I wish you good health and strength for your important cause and message that you are trying to portray to the world." "Thank you for coming to Shepparton which is a fantastic multicultural town we live in peacefully," added Latifa.

They kindly gifted the runners with a mug and pen and most importantly a poem and artwork for peace to inspire us on our journey.

The Courtyard Motor Inn hosted some of our team in Shepparton this evening. Thank you to Brendan for allowing us to say in your lovely Motor Inn! Brendan was away today but Toni and Jenny welcomed us to Country Yard Motor Inn for a restful sleep.

Just a few km away two more of our team stayed at the Best Western Plus The Carrington. Mary was there to greet us and show us around our lovely accommodation for this evening. We are very much looking forward to your delicious breakfast in the morning!

This evening the Gurunanak Sikh Society in their tranquil Sikh Temple hosted the entire Peace Run team for a sumptuous dinner.

We were honoured to have stayed here a few years ago during the 2013 Peace Run and the runners on the team at that time have such fond memories of our time not only staying there but also spending time in the company of the members.

It was wonderful to be able to now share this with some more of our Peace Runners.

The boys team then retired to Central Shepparton Apartments, thank you Glenda! The accomodation is luxurious.