• Kyodo


The four-month World Harmony Run, a global torch relay involving more than 1 million people from more than 80 countries, including Japan, ended Wednesday in New York City.

The relay, which started at the same plaza in April, took place throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia simultaneously. The torch-carrying runners covered a total of about 56,000 km.

The Japanese portion of the run kicked off July 22 in Tokyo’s Setagaya Park, with about 400 people taking part. The participants ran through numerous communities, covering about 1,650 km. One of their stops was at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

They reached the finish line Aug. 13 at the Statue of Peace Memorial in Nagasaki.

“It is completely volunteer work,” said Yukako Sunaoshi, who served as coordinator in Japan and participated in the closing ceremony. “All participants had to run during their free time. “But a lot of firms contributed supplies, such as bottles of water — often anonymously — and were very helpful.”

“The run is to develop friendship and understanding beyond the national, racial and ideological differences” of people, said Tilvila Hurwit, a coordinator for the U.S. “This run is special because it’s completely not commercial, and is not for any reason — political or religious.

“It’s only to bring people together like a family,” said Hurwit, who also participated in the run.

The closing ceremony drew a number of U.N. ambassadors from countries that had participated in the four-month run. “This event showed a wonderful example to the U.N. that our work should be for world peace and friendship beyond cultural barriers,” said Eva Tomic, the deputy permanent representative for Slovenia.

The World Harmony Run was organized by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, which sponsors dozens of major athletic events each year.

Sri Chinmoy, an Indian athlete and philosopher who will turn 75 on Aug. 27, founded the run in 1987.

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