On the day of the historic Korean peace summit, local runners helped spread the call for world harmony by carrying a torch of peace through Longview and Castle Rock Monday.
Members of the Cowlitz Valley Runners club joined Sri Chinmoy Oneness–Home Peace Run, greeting the torch at the foot of the Lewis and Clark Bridge at about 1 p.m. and then toting it northward into Castle Rock and beyond in the afternoon. The torch is on a 10,500-mile journey through Mexico, Canada and perhaps as many as 30 U.S. states.
While the event does not raise money or highlight any political causes, it gives an opportunity for people to come together and express hopes and dreams of world peace.
“It’s been a fun event, it’s really exciting to be able to carry the torch. It’s like the Olympics. I think it really does foster good will,” said Kevin Rentner said, vice president and secretary of the Cowlitz Valley Runners.
“I just heard about it and wanted to be a part of it,” said Jennifer Wills, Longview Director of Parks and Recreations. “I think it’s a pretty unique experience and I wish we’d get more people involved in it.”
The Chinmoy torch also passed through Longview in 2014, when Rentner ran in it to help train for a marathon. Aaronn Nelson ran in the relay Monday to help train for the upcoming Hood to Coast Relay. He ran the entire leg from Longview to Castle Rock.
“I got on the internet and checked out what this was and thought, ‘Man what a great thing to be a part of,’ so I decided to come out and run. I’ve never ran with a group of people or in any race, so I thought this would be a great thing to start and try to get going,” Nelson said.
From April 15 to Aug.15 runners take turns passing a torch through three countries in hopes of spreading peace and harmony.
This year’s North American team started in New York City on April 15 and is supposed to end Aug. 15 back in New York. It’s already been through Mexico and is now bound for Canada.
“When we used to just do the U.S. we would do 48 continuous states, but this time we are going into Canada and Mexico,” said Salil Wilson, Australian native and executive director of the Peace Run who appeared in Longview Monday. “I’ve never actually counted. I’m guessing this year we’re in about 30 states.”
Wilson has been with the Peace Run since the beginning. He ran in the first ever Peace Run in 1987. Since then, Wilson has been running and volunteering with the organization.
“It is so enriching and rewarding” Wilson said.
The event was founded by India peace activist Sri Chinmoy, who died in 2007. According to the Peace Run website, Chinmoy wanted a “way to bring people together in a global yet grassroots event.” The relays have involved 155 nations and territories, and several torches are carried simultaneously around the globe.
“It’s in Mongolia now,” Wilson said, “and we just finished one in Korea.”