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‘Peace Run’ stops through Durango

Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run launched in 1987; group began in New York, will circle back to end in New York
Homagni Baptista, who’s carrying the torch, and other participants with Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, reaches Eighth Street across from the Durango Welcome Center on Saturday, May 25, 2024. The group started in New York on April 21 and will circle back toward New York to end the run on Aug. 17. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

Just like those before them dating back 37 years, a small group of runners is trekking through communities across North America to promote world peace – making a stop in Durango along the way.

Those with the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, which started in 1987, made their way to the Welcome Center in downtown Durango on Saturday, the latest stop on their trek.

The runners began April 21 in New York, venturing across the southern and southwestern United States before Durango. They will then head toward San Diego, go up north toward Vancouver, Canada, then continue east along places such as Spokane, Washington, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, before cutting through the upper Midwest on their way to arriving back in New York on Aug. 17.

Runners show a map of the North America route for the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, which starts and ends in New York. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

“It’s been a huge experience for everybody ... For many of them, it’s their first time seeing outside of the big cities of the United States. It’s really thrilling,” said team captain Harita Davies, a native of Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Peace Run, founded by Sri Chinmoy and generally held every two years, is meant to give people a “dynamic way to express their own hopes and dreams for a more harmonious world,” according to a news release.

The group even views the run’s map route as a symbolic link for world peace, passing the torch onto new runners from different communities, and even handing the torch to different community leaders they meet.

“The run was just founded on the basic philosophy that world peace starts on an individual level. If we want peace in the world, then we need to start with ourselves,” Davies said. “We don’t have to feel frustrated or helpless by the world’s situation. We can just start with ourselves and our communities, our families ... All those little bits really add up.”

Durango officials who held the torch include Mayor Pro-Tem Gilda Yazzie and multiple church leaders.

The runners involved are originally from different parts of the world, from Australia and New Zealand to Hungary and Ukraine.

The group stopped in Pagosa Springs on Friday night before running more than 60 miles to Durango.

“We definitely noticed our heart rate going up. And also, we’re out of breath a little bit more,” said Queesnland, Australia, native Homagni Baptista, who carried the torch at the front of the group. “It’s going to take a few more days (acclimating) to this area.”

Baptista said he previously ventured through Durango taking part in the same peace run for the full four months in 2000, which made him a bit more familiar with the route on Saturday.

“It’s always a highlight,” he said. “Love the people here. Nature’s just beautiful.”

The group will stop through Mancos, Mesa Verde National Park, Cortez and Towaoc on Sunday morning before crossing into southeast Utah later in the day.


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