March 9, 2023 Live from the road

Canberra, ACT

Reported by Prachar Stegemann, Salil Wilson 1.0 km

The Peace Run team took a day out from their route along the East Coast, for a day in the nation's capital, Canberra. First up in the morning, a visit to Parliament House: an opportunity for Members of Parliament and Senators to greet the team, hold the Peace Torch and offer their goodwill and support.

Our ACT Patron, Dr. Andrew Leigh, (MP for the Canberra electorate of Fenner) had invited his colleagues to come and meet the team on this chilly Canberra morning on Federation Mall's green lawns in front of Parliament House.

Andrew Leigh is an accomplished runner in his own right, having recently completed all 6 World Marathon Majors (London, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Berlin and Boston Marathons), each in under 3 hours. In 2022, Andrew established his endurance credentials, completing both the Sri Chinmoy Canberra 100km Trail Run and swimming the 10km length of Lake Burley Griffin.

Meeting the team from various nationalities.

Next to greet the running team, Dr Carina Garland (ALP) is the Federal Member for the Melbourne seat of Chisholm.

Showing bipartisan support for the Peace Run, Terry Young is the Liberal Member for Longman, spanning Brisbane's northern suburbs and Bribie Island.

Tania Lawrence (ALP) comes from Perth, and the seat of Hasluck.

Tania was keen for a run with the Peace Torch, accompanied here by our women's team.

Zali Steggall is the Independent Member for Wahringah on Sydney's north shore, where the team had been just the day before.

Zali is a 3-time Australian Winter Olympics representative, and was delighted to meet our Japanese representative, Harashita Sunaoshi, as it was at the Nagano Winter Games in 1998 that Stali became the first ever Australian medalist at a Winter Olympics, in slalom skiing.

South Australia's Senator Marielle Smith (ALP) is the Chair of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee.

Singing Sri Chinmoy's Peace Run song.

Sharon Claydon (ALP) is Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives, holding the seat of Newcastle, where the team had spent the night just 2 days earlier.

Representing the Perth seat of Pearce in WA, Tracey Roberts (ALP) graciously posed with the team.

Libby Coker (ALP), representing Corangamite in Victoria, is the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Our next engagement was a lunchtime reception at the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Long time friend and supporter of the Peace Run, ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury, welcomed the team to the Assembly.

We presented the torch carried from Brisbane to Canberra.

Peace Run Executive Director, Salil Wilson shared some of the team's experiences over the last 12 days.

Only half of the team was present to sing the Peace Run song, as several members were at Parliament House to hear Andrew Leigh's speech about the Peace Run, which he delivered while holding the Peace Torch.

ACT Coordinator, Prachar Stegemann introduced the first of our two Torch-Bearer award recipients...

Robert de Castella AO MBE accepted the Torch-Bearer award on behalf of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, which he founded in 2009.

The Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) uses the humble yet powerful sport of distance running as a conduit for change in Indigenous communities across Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women from all ages and abilities participate in IMF’s different programs that deliver health outcomes, nurture young leaders, and celebrate Indigenous resilience and achievement. 

To date, IMF’s flagship program, the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP), which annually supports a squad of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women, to go from almost no running to running a major international marathon in just six months, has produced 132 Graduates across Australia.

Along with the immense satisfaction and achievement of completing a major international marathon, IMP graduates also gain important education qualifications including a Cert IV in Indigenous Leadership & Health Promotion, public speaking and media training, CPR and First Aid, Indigenous Mental Health First Aid, and Level I Run Coach accreditation.

The ripple effect then continues with more than 40 First Nations communities across Australia participating in regular free, safe, inclusive, and culturally appropriate running and walking through IMF RAW, the grassroots Indigenous-led community Running and Walking Program of IMF.

The IMF is indeed a source of pride, achievement and gratitude to all Australians…

Robert de Castella, one of Australia's running immortals, himself a 4-time Olympic Marathoner, World Champion and World Record holder in the marathon, and former Director of the Australian Institute of Sport, spoke eloquently and with passion about the purpose and inspiration of the Foundation. Robert, who was also a National Patron of the Peace Run, also told of his long association and admiration for Sri Chinmoy and the Peace Run.

The second Torch-Bearer award was presented to Chris Edwards, founder and director of the Aussie Peace Walk, which is coming up in just 2 weeks from now around Canberra.

Aside from his tireless and innovative work promoting the Peace Walk, which raises funds for numerous wonderful causes, Chris also happens to have completed every single edition (that's 50 and counting!) of the City to Surf, the largest fun-run in the world.

Having just been in Timor-Leste with the Peace Run and in consideration of the special relationship between Canberra and Dili, Timor-Leste being sister cities, Salil presented Shane Rattenbury with a traditional Tais cloth in the colours of the Timorese Flag.

Rebecca Vassarotti (the Greens) is the ACT Minister for the Environment, Heritage, Homelessness and Housing Services, and Sustainable Building and Construction, here sharing the Peace Torch with the National Coordinator for the Peace Run in Australia, Stacey Marsh.

Our women's team finished the day with a visit to the Sri Chinmoy statue at Yarralumla Bay, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

Torch carried by
Abhijatri Robinson (South Africa), Bayarkhuu Batbayar (Mongolia), Fatima Caal Caal (Guatemala), Gabriel Quentana (Guatemala), Gesiane Nascimento (Brazil), Harita Davies (New Zealand), Liana Tibaquira (Colombia), Martin Fryer (Australia), Mirabel Gonzalez Lopez (Guatemala), Narantuya Batsaihan (Mongolia), Paramananda . (Indonesia), Prachar Stegemann (Australia), Salil Wilson (Australia), Stacey Marsh (New Zealand), Susan Marshall (New Zealand).  
Abhijatri Robinson, Narantuya Batsaihan, Salil Wilson
The torch has travelled 1.0 km in Canberra, ACT.

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