United States 23 July: Chicago, Illinois - Ontario, Canada
Peace: Warmly Welcomed Wherever We Are
We always get a warm, or even very hot, welcome wherever we carry and share the Peace Torch. The temperatures in July can reach 100-plus degrees Farenheit,( or around 40 Celsius) or more in the Midwest of North America. It also can get very humid as well, making it difficult to run fast or long distances without overheating. Some of the following photos are from 2016 in Wisconsin, U.S.A., But this year in 2020 we would have been in between Chicago and Canada during this particular week in July.
I was asked to share some of my experiences during this week in 2016 on the Peace Run when I began the challenge of running my age in miles on or around my July 23 birthday in Wisconsin.
Arpan,(yours truly), gets ready for his 'ageathon' ultramarathon run from La Crosse, Wisconsin during the 2016 Peace Run, I ran 64 miles across Wisconsin to Richland Center, or almost to the Capital city of Madison. It was quite a scenic and sometimes very hilly course.
Becausei in this year of 2020 we would have been in Chicago at this time, we will soon present another special report here dedicated to the amazing events and incredible people we have met in the beautiful city of Chicago in the past.
Back to 2016, my good friend and dedicated Peace Runner from France, Pierre, was my first helper of the long day, driving the support vehicle for many hours from the early 2:00 a.m. start in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Every two miles or so he was there waiting for me with a big smile, refreshments and some nice music that he would sometimes create himself.
Running for many hours through the peaceful darkness of early morning with a headlamp for guidance, Arpan challenges his age in miles running with the peace and light of the Peace Torch.
Darkness turns into the brightness and heat of a typical July day as Arpan starts on his second marathon through Wisconsin.
In the town of Viroqua, Wisconsin, this gentleman came out to greet us and share the Peace Torch. He was very encouraging and happy to meet us. He had heard about the Peace Run in the past and coincidentally, or rather serendipitously, met up with us as we ran through his neighborhood. We met a number of very welcoming and friendly locals along the long road towards Madison.
Lots of nature and friendly four-legged locals also greeted us along the way to add to the joy of this tremendously rewarding but difficult ultra-run.
A local newspaper reporter came out to interview me as I passed through her town. It is always very encouraging to share our Peace Run experiences with the local media so that others who may have missed us come to know of our mission of peace through their communities.
Puroga and Nikolaus helped to carry the Peace Torch for a 26-mile marathon they both ran during my two and a half marathons birthday run that day.
At the end of a long day, Yatkara, Puroga and Nikolaus had helped me to achieve this most arduous but peaceful birthday run of 64 miles, demonstrating a very encouraging oneness. This oneness made me feel that it truly was not just my achievement, but the result of a peaceful and powerful team spirit which we always try to cultivate each day on the Peace Run. All gratitude to them, as well as Pierre and other team members who came to support and encourage me at various points along the way.
For my reward of finishing my ' Ageathon' I received this 'hot' car. Actually I refused it because it consumed way too much gasoline. But seriously, we get to see some amazing vehicles , and people, on our way through the vastness of the incredibly diverse North American countries of the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The women's team basically had a day off from running since I ran almost the whole team's miles for my 'ageathon'. But they made delicious meals in the camper, which we call the RV, (Recreational Vehicle) .
Lots of nice healthy sandwiches for the whole team. Everyone gets a chance to show off their culinary talents as we make usually two meals a day in the RV.
A few days later, in the city of Buchanan, Michigan, we reached a wonderful campground called 'Fuller's Resort and Campground on Clear Lake'. They always are so generous in offering us a campsite and tent sites or other accommodations. They also very generously prepare a huge buffet style meal for our whole team.
This is the wonderful Dykstra family of the Fuller Resort and Campground who take care of us every year as we pass through the area. Kirsti holds the Peace Torch, ready to pass it along with her sweet smile to her husband Mark and their children: Kelsey, Austin and Hailey.
Every year the Dykstra family offers us each a beautiful Fuller's shirt. In their fine tradition they display photos people send them from around the world wearing the shirt next to a famous landmark or interesting location for all who visit the Fuller Resort to see and enjoy.
Salil, Executive Director of the Peace Run, wears his Fuller's shirt in front of the famous 'Unisphere'. This huge stainless steel replica of the Earth was dedicated to peace back in 1964 at the site of the then current 'World's Fair' in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York City.
Pavaka proudly wears his Fuller's shirt in Montreal, Canada where we would have been running through soon, according to this year's schedule. Unfortunately that did not happen this year, but the peace and oneness shared with our Canadian friends in the past still lifts our spirits and our hopes for future Peace Runs there.
In other countries this year some Peace Runners had their own personal daily, sometimes solo Peace Runs. Here we see Kepha, from Tanzania, holding the Peace Torch in one hand and his peaceful young son and future Peace Runner, Justin, in the other hand. Looking forward to the future with hope and faith, we know that even the youngest of potential Peace Runners will play a significant and crucial role in helping to transform this world into a more peaceful and healthy planet.
Akbota greets us this year from Khasazstan. She is one of our regular and enthusiastic Peace Run organizers and a dedicated Peace runner who has also run on much of the North American Peace Run in the past. Behind her is a display of children's artwork on the theme of peace.
Marina shares some of her scenic runs with us from San Diego, California, U.S.A., where she is visiting. She comments: "I run along the many green places of San Diego. Every place has something special. So many beautiful gardens with plants, flowers and fruit. My heart is full of gratitude and love for people who create this amazing world and take care about it."
In a normal year we would have actually run through parts of Canada by this time. Here are a few of the people who would have greeted our team in Winnipeg. Purnakama, with the Peace Run shirt on the left, is a dedicated Peace Runner and organizer who always cheerfully inspires her fellow Canadians through her Peace activities and wonderful musical skills as well.
Shishir, one of our fearless, dedicated Canadian Peace Run organizers, is smiling alone with the Peace Torch. I am sure he would have been much happier if we were able to run through Winnipeg to share our activities with all those he has inspired to come out and take part in Peace Runs past. Hopefully next year we will be back on our normal route able to mix with the thousands of peace-lovers who anxiously await our arrival. They are the reason that we keep going on our journeys to spread and share inner and outer peace.