South Africa 17 October: Cape Town

Peace Run joins the Cape Town Marathon

This year the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run was once again invited to be a part of the Cape Town Marathon. Five members of the peace run team made the journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town for the event. The 1400 km drive took us through the heart of the dry and dusty Karoo of the Northern Cape and Western Cape provinces.

We stopped for the night at the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West where we camped under an unusually cloudy sky. The Karoo is incredibly dry at this time of year and it is a small miracle that so much life exists in this remote and barren landscape.

The Park includes a population of Mountain Zebras ...

... as well as South Africa's iconic springbok.

Other wildlife is abundant here including this scorpion, which we discovered under a rock next to our camp site.

The main event, the Cape Town Marathon, took place on Sunday, October 17th. It was an early start for both participants and organisers on what turned out to be a cold and wet day.

The marathon opening ceremony began with a celebrity peace walk.

The guests included Dan Plato (Executive Mayor for Cape Town), Alderman JP SMith, Anroux Marais (MEC Sport, Art & Culture), Paul Hanratty (CEO Sanlam), Mariska Oosthuizen (Sanlam), James Moloi (President of Athletics South Africa), Elana Meyer, Lionel Claasen, Anrune Weyers (Paralympian Gold Medallist), and Penny Nam and Shree Chirkoot from the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run.

Due to Covid restrictions, a mass start was not permitted. Instead, runners started in batches every few minutes over a roughly 45 minute period with times measured using timing chips rather than a single race clock.

The Peace Torch was visible as a symbol of unity, peace and oneness at the various starts.

This brass band, consisting of aspiring young musicians from Cape Town, added a wonderful spirit of joy and celebration to the start of the marathon. It was obvious that everyone was enjoying their performance, especially as the Cape Town Marathon was one of the first major races to resume at close to full scale since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

Here Penny holds the Torch with paralympic gold medallist Anrune Weyers. Anrune is an amazing athlete and person who is passionate about the unifying power of sport.

The runners were also entertained and spurred on by this dynamic and happy group of dancers.

Here both the dance group and the brass band pose before performing one song together.

The spirit of oneness and happiness when they performed together was palpable.

After all the marathon runners had started, we had a chance to meet Mr Melvyn Matthews, who is the passionately enthusiastic leader of the group.

The winner of this year's men's event was South Africa's Stephen Mokoka in a time of 2:10:01.

In the women's event, Lydia Naliaka from Kenya won in a time of 2:25:44. She is seen here with Gerda Steyn of South Africa (4th) and Lucy Karimi of Kenya (2nd).

Gerda Steyn, the first South African woman home in a time of 2:26:24, radiated a wonderful spirit of oneness, poise and joy as she held the Peace Torch and made a wish for peace.

Many of the marathon finishers were all smiles and just so happy to hold the torch.

This year, Elana Meyer and Zola Pieterse (nee Budd) ran the marathon together in a time of 3:35:31. Elana is a recipient of the Torch Bearer award and her passion and spirit are plain to see here.

Here, Elana holds the torch with Zola.

The marathon finish area was next to the Cape Town athletics stadium. Towards the end of the race, the skies cleared and we had periods of sunshine.

At the end of the day, we headed out to Sunset Beach where we enjoyed this glorious sunset against the backdrop of Table Mountain and Lion's Head.

We also had a chance to visit the World of Birds, a bird park in Hout Bay which was dedicated as a Sri Chinmoy Peace Blosssom Park on December 26th, 1995 during Sri Chinmoy's first visit to South Africa. We enjoyed a gobsmacking bird and animal experience and it was heartening to find the original dedication plaque prominently displayed at the park entrance.