The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run ran through Pagosa Springs and Durango on Wednesday, as well as visited Animas Valley Elementary, to promote world peace and harmony.
The team of relay runners visited Southwest Colorado as a part of its 11,000-mile loop through the United States, Mexico and Canada. Team members ran 76 miles from Pagosa Springs to Hesperus on Wednesday.
Runners complete the distance relay style – each runner will run about 10 miles and then another runner will take over, said Harita Davies, who has done the run for 20 years.
Most of the route is completed on foot, but some segments are driven, such as the stretch from Oklahoma City to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
As a part of the initiative to spread peace, the runners meet with various community groups, local officials and schools.
On their way to Hesperus, the runners gave a presentation to students at Animas Valley Elementary.
Durango Mayor Sweetie Marbury spoke at the beginning of the school-wide assembly.
“Peace begins by friendship,” Marbury told the students. She then encouraged students to shake hands with the classmates sitting next to them.
Students then participated in various activities involving peace and understanding, including singing songs, learning about countries around the world from which the runners originate, and holding the peace torch that the runners carry.
The torch is usually lit while the runners are completing their route, but not today, as La Plata County is under a fire ban.
A quote by peace run founder Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) that was shared with the students reflects the message the runners would like to spread along their route: “Peace does not mean the absence of war, peace means the presence of harmony, love, satisfaction and oneness. Peace means a flood of love in the world family.”
The message is that peace starts in each of us, Davies said. Even when there are bad things happening in the world, the runners want to inspire people to not give up hope.
She said if people think about the things they care about, the things they disagree about become insignificant.
Davies has been involved with the peace run for 20 years, starting at the New Zealand peace run in her home country. She has been participating in the U.S. peace run since 2012.
She says she enjoys meeting people throughout the country and bringing the message of peace, since the U.S. is such a significant country in world affairs.
“There’s nothing better I can do with my life,” she said.