They ran, they rested, they sang — and then the World Harmony Run crew was off to its next destination.
For about 45 minutes last Thursday morning, 13 athletes from around the globe descended upon the Park at Bothell Landing and shared their visions of unity with a small crowd that included Mayor Mark Lamb and City Manager Bob Stowe.
Washington was the runners’ 27th state they visited on their four-month, 10,000-mile journey across the United States. They started in New York April 10 and plan to finish up there Aug. 15.
After runners David Morrison (Florida) and Samarthan Vandeman (a former Olympia resident who now resides in San Diego, Calif.) cruised up the Burke-Gilman Trail and crossed over the bridge at around 10 a.m., they handed the flaming torch off to Lamb.
Lamb congratulated the runners on their successful jaunt, which was organized by the late Sri Chinmoy (India) in 1987 and takes place bi-annually in the states. Overall, the event treks through 100 countries, six continents and covers 35,000 miles.
“It’s been an incredible, incredible journey. We can’t do it alone, it’s a teamwork effort. We get together and we bring out the unity in each other,” said team captain Yuyu Dhan Hoppe (Minneapolis, Minn.). “If we have peace and harmony in our hearts, we have it to share with other people. It’s amazing how we can come together and all have visions of unity.”
For now there’s 13, but Shyamala Stott (Scotland) said there will eventually be 30 people involved as the group heads back east. Some runners will participate for a few weeks and some, like her, will gut it out for the duration. She estimates that she runs 8-10 miles a day and then passes the torch to other runners to keep the harmony flowing.
Stott’s top moment of the journey was visiting New Orleans.
“It was a Sunday, and we went to a Baptist church … there’s so much life in the Baptist church — I love them,” said Stott, who will run between 800-900 miles before the event is finished. “The minister said he can really feel the hope burning, getting the district back to before the hurricane hit.
“It’s important for people to bring harmony back into their lives.”
Added Hoppe: “The minister used the phrase, ‘The devil may knock you down, but it won’t knock you out.’”
Ashok Parulekar (India) said that visiting with children on each stop is inspiring, and Kanala Bolvanska (Slovakia) added that she’s enjoyed traveling throughout the U.S.
“I like seeing the places you wouldn’t usually see and to meet the people,” Bolvanska said with a smile. “From what I see and what I’ve experienced, we are all the same — all around the world.”
Aside from sharing their thoughts, the runners joined together and sang: “Run, run, run … World Harmony Run … We are the oneness and fullness of tomorrow’s sun.”
Before Hoppe walked back to the team’s van, which follows the course and carries those runners taking a break, he added: “Hundreds of thousands of people have held the torch (from runners to popes to famous athletes), and each one adds their little piece, their little drop (of hope) that keeps us going.”
Then, he grabbed the torch himself and headed back over the bridge toward Maltby. Sultan was next, then Leavenworth … and beyond.
To follow the runners, visit www.worldharmonyrun.org.