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    1,000,000 Participants

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    Dreaming of Harmony

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Czech Republic 3 October: Ceske Budejovice - Konopiste

Team A

A councillor of Hluboka nad Vltavou town welcomed and wished us well as we made our way up to the Castle.

Children from the ZS Hluboka school accompanied us as we headed up the hill to reach the beautiful Hluboka nad Vltavou castle .

There we were joined by students from the Townshend International school who led us to their beautiful school perched upon a neighbouring hill.

Approaching the Townshend International School.

The Unity Dancers performed a great rythmic stomping and clapping routine to show the power of harmony.

The Unity Dance Troupe in action.

It was Antoin's birthday - so we sang her "Happy Birthday!"

Relunctantly we left the school to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the back roads of the Czech Republic.

The weather was cool and refreshing all our runners were vying for a chance to run.

The Majorettes of Veseli nad Luznici put on a great show for the team before we adjourned inside for some refreshments.

Veseli nad Luznici is a small but very friendly town. In spite of rain and cold weather, very young girls performed a majorette march. Mayor of the town, Mr.Jaromir Novak, welcomed runners on behalf of the whole town council.

Our last ceremony today was in Sobeslav, where we were warmly welcomed by the deputy mayor, Mr. Zdenek Vranek. After refreshments in the town hall and short ceremony, we embarked on the last part of today's journey running 20km in rainy but beautiful countryside finishing in Tabor where Team B started in the morning.

Team B

Team B drove on ahead to Tabor where we were to begin our day's running from the town's square. It felt it was going to be one of those days, as we got caught up in the morning's rush hour and then had a few problems finding the old town's square. First we tried using the map and even with the GPS system we were going around in circles and passed places two or three times, but eventually we arrived at the correct place.

At Tabor old town square we were received by the vice mayor and the children enthusiastically cheered us despite the rather cold and wet weather conditions.

After the ceremony children from the Athletic Club Tabor ran with us a few kilometres, and as you would expect they ran at quite a brisk pace.

After 10 kilometres we arrived at the village of Ratiborske Hory where brightly coloured balloons were tied to the village name signs and a few hundred metres down the road were a handful of children eagerly awaiting to run with us. We ran to their school where we received the best welcome of the day.

Each child had a drawing of a country's flag and the very young children had decorated rings.

The teachers and the children gave us a rousing reception. The cold and the rain did not diminish their enthusiasm and their joy. They even sang a song for us as a thank you for coming to their school. The teachers and director of the school Mrs Vachova also ran with the torch which the children loved.

Their exubrance and excitement was boundless as they all ran with us to the edge of their village.

Our next reception was to be at Mlada Vozice to meet the mayor, some cyclists and lots of children.

Now sometimes rather amusing events happen - intentional and unintentional. This was to be one of those unintended events. I will tell you my story. Team leader, Dipavajan told me to run 5 km and I eagerly set off on my way. I didn't know where our next meeting was going to be, although I was aware that it was to be at 11.50. When I had started runing the time was 11.05. After 15 minutes I approached the edge of a town - this was Mlada Vozice and I didn't know this was where we were to have a ceremony. I passed a petrol statio where a few cyclists were leaning on the wall and I waved and they waved back and I carried on running. They shouted something out in Czech. I hadn't a clue what they said, but at times like this I just supposed they were asking why I was running. I simply shouted back,"World Harmony Run!"

I ran down the hill into the centre and I saw a class of young children walking dow the street and I waved and shouted "Ahoy!" (Hello in Czech). Rather bemused they simply waved back and I kept on running. Local people in the street, shop owners and motorists greeted me likewise - I waved and smiled and they waved and smiled back. I ran past the square and a handful of children turned around as I ran past them and they waved. I was building up a good pace by now and all the friendly responses from the people inspired me to run faseter. I ran past the square and back out the other side. I looked at my watch - it was only 11.25 so I assumed the meeting would be further ahead in the next town.

Suddenly I heard Dipavajan shouting from the van speeding towards me, "Mark, what are you doing?!" Well, like I'm running 5 km like you told me to. Well, I was buddled in the car and we drove back, passing at least a hundred and twenty children waiting on the side of the road, until we reached the entrance of the town. The team then ran with the town's cycling team into the town's square to a tremendous cheer. And yes the mayor, Mr Jaroslav Vetrovsky and children did find the whole episode hilarious, and we were all able to laugh about it - including me after my initial scolding from Dipavajan.

I was told that some of the elderly women commented, "Oh, he was so lovely, he was waving and smiling". I'm quite a celebrity now - I'm not too sure for the right or wrong reason, but everyone found it rather funny and I'm sure it has put a smile on many people's faces.

The reception given by the town was fabulous and we will certainly visit Mlada Vozice again sometime. I don't think I will forget the experience.

From midday the rain turned heavy and it certainly felt like autumn and it got colder. Mrs Kocova, the director of the local school Lounovice pod Blanikem was so pleased to see us. It was wonderful to visit the small school with a a total of 15 children. A class of 8 children in tradtional costimes gave a performace of a popular children's song, "If you're happy and you know it".

At the end all the runners signed each child's daily journal book. I think they will remember us for a long time, and we will certainly not forget their wishes that they put into the flame for a more harmonious future.

Our team arrived on Benesov in good time where we were warmly greeted by the vice mayor.

We would like to express out eternal gratitude for the city for providing the whole team with accommodation in the city. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity.

To complete an entertaining day the mayor ran with us for 3 km to the state castle Konopiste.

And so ended a joyful day. Although the weather was dismal and raining, where ever we went we felt the sunshine and warmth of people's hearts and experienced the cheerfulness of the Czech people.

– Mark Collinson and Salil Wilson

Distance: 138 km

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Czech Republic 4 October >