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Safely back – and the peace torch made it up to Kili!

Kili-UhuruAll are safely back – after an amazing Peace Run adventure in Africa – Tanzania – Arusha.

9 of our 13 climbers took the peace torch all the way up to Uhuru Peak, 2 made it at least to Stella Point, I had to turn around after 3:15 hours climbing up the crater – but I was very happy still – and one had to stay at Kibu hut due to altitude sickness! More to follow, including tons of photos.

The weather gods were with us – mild temperatures, no wind,  mostly clear sky – “because you had peace in your hearts”, one guide said – after an initial rainy day with thunderstorm at night at Mandara hut. Groups waiting to summit from Kibu hut that night were not allowed to summit – too dangerous!

More on www.peacerun.org – everything is up now! (pls. forgive the Austrian English :)

Nice slide show by Vaibhava: Dropbox Peace Run Africa

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Abhejali – our next team member to “conquer” the Strait of Gibraltar!

Abhejali-Tarifa

Joining Continents

“Swimming to Africa”, i.e. swimming the Strait of Gibraltar from the southernmost tip of Europe (Tarifa, Spain) to Africa (Morocco) – 15-20 km – is not comparable to an English Channel swim, but bridging two continents has a special magic to it. And there are similar challenges: unpredictable weather, days of waiting, currents, fog, huge container ships in the shipping lanes – but nicer marine life. The success rate is higher since the swim is shorter and easier – but you never know exactly what the currents and wind will do on your day, or if you get to swim at all.  (→ See the post about my own Gibraltar Straits swim Oct. 2012)

Video

On Monday, Sept. 16th, 2013, Abhejali Bernadova from Zlin, Czech Republic, fastest swimmer in our international English Channel relay 2009, English Channel solo swimmer 2011 and Manhattan Island Finisher 2012, became the 2nd Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team member to conquer the Strait of Gibraltar – in a very good 4 hours 35 minutes. Which made her the 3rd Czech Strait woman to do so – and the fastest of them! Conditions were less than ideal, windforce 3-4 most of the way – the AGNEC certificate says windforce 4 – and on the video the waves and whitecaps of the first hours are quite impressive compared to my own swim in 2012. Luckily everyone had taken seasickness pills – so seasickness only became a problem when they went dolphin watching (again) a few days later. Sunday, when a leftover team from the week before got to swim, was still sunny and calm (the photo at the top was taken on Sunday), but on Monday, on swim day, even though only windforce 2 was predicted, the Straits showed a different face.

Not easy, but very beautiful

Abhejali was still very lucky:
1. She got to swim at all (it is not rare for swimmers to come and not get a shot at all due to the weather).
2. She had an early morning start at 8 a.m, and the current – although unfavourable at the start – was not very strong near Africa. On the way back the pilot measured the current 5 km off Tarifa – and it had become basically unswimmable!
3. Abhejali had great company: not only her helpers and of course the boat pilots, but lots of dolphins! On one video she keeps swimming without looking up for quite a while – because she was looking at the dolphins swimming only a few meters below her. When a huge container boat passed, dolphins were surfing on its big bow waves! Her helpers saw them everywhere. “I had wanted to swim with dolphins,” she said, “and it worked!”

Map-Abhejali

On the website of ACNEC there is a link where you can follow the tracker of the pilot boats, Columba Uno or Columba Dos

In the first hour she only swam 2 km due to the strong currents (almost full moon), but after 2 hours she was told in 20 min. she would be half way – so she was able to pick up speed. One shoulder soon started to hurt from swimming in the waves – which she had not been able to practice in training – and pain killers did not help very much.

Finish Abhejali Gibraltar Straits“It was not easy, but it was very beautiful,” Abhejali said after her swim.

What will be next?, I asked her. Catalina, Cook Straits – or any other of the 7 Oceans swims? Maybe later, she says. She would love to swim from Europe to Asia (the Bosporus – an even shorter swim). “But now I’d also love to go back to running a little”, she says – a 24 hour and 100 km champion in her country, and lover and long time co-organizer of the World Harmony/Peace Run.

→ Videos of Abhejali swimming the Strait of Gibraltar, Sept. 16, 2013

→ more Photos

Link to ACNEG – the organisation for Strait of Gibraltar swims (swim list is not up to date on the website!)

→ Abhejali and myself at the IMSHOF ceremony in Long Beach, California, September 2012

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Adriano Passini – our team`s new English Channel swimmer!

End of July was extremely eventful. I went to England to join an international team for the last part of the “Great British Peace Run” from Cardiff to Ipswich, be part of the inauguration ceremony of a Peace Statue of Sri Chinmoy – the founder of the World Harmony Peace Run and of our Marathon Team –  in Ipswich Chantry Park on July 28th, and to pay a short visit to Dover on the way back to Heidelberg.

From Brazil to Dover, from Dover to France

Just then, on Saturday, July 27th, Adriano Passini (32), an aviation engineer from Sao Paulo, became the first member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Brazil  to successfully swim the English Channel, in a fantastic time of 11 hours 10 min – the 44th EC swim by a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team.  Adriano Passini with the Brazilian flag - having conquered the English Channel!He was supported with tons of experience and lots of selfgiving dedication by Karteek Clarke from Scotland (“Scottish King of the Channel” with 10x EC) and his friend Ashirvad from Brazil, and expertly guided by “Gentleman-pilot” Chris Osmond on Seafarer 11, who in 2011 also safely landed our boys relay team and my friend and teammate Abhejali Bernadova (Czech Republic) on the French side.

Chris Osmond, Seafarer II, Adriano (the beaming hero) and Karteek

Adriano – a vegetarian – had prepared himself very well for at least 2 years, physically, mentally and spiritually, including meditation – and even concentrated intensely on the exact swim date. And it worked! He had a daylight start and finish, a few hours of heavy rain and fog, but with the sun coming out at the end. He was very focussed and positive throughout the swim. The strong spring tide currents were no problem for him. To stay warm he may have swum extra fast. The water temperature had been a bit of a concern for him, finding no colder water than 19°C in Brazil, but he was wise to come early enough to Dover to get acclimatized in the harbour and not accept an earlier swim offer, and he was totally fine until the glorious finish in bright sunlight.

Adriano getting closer to Cap Griz Nez - and the sun coming out

Determination wins the day…

Read more: On his blog 10x EC-veteran Karteek shares a longer report from a helper`s perspective with more info about Adriano`s preparation and the swim itself.

…and sleep overtakes an exhausted helper:

Helping a Channel swimmer is hard and tiring work!

Congratulations banner at Varne Ridge Caravan Park - is there a more inspiring place to stay for a Channel aspirant?Varne Ridge Caravan Park - which better place to stay for Channel aspirant

One day later at the Sri Chinmoy Peace Statue ceremony in Ipswich: the Mayor of Ipswich with 4 Channel swimmers (together 14 EC solos and 2 realys):

Sri Chinmoy Peace Statue, Mayor of Ipswich with 4 Channel swimmers and 14 EC solos

The swim course, courtesy CS&PF:

Swim course English Channel Adriano Passini

One of Adriano`s favourite mantras or spiritual aphorisms for a positive, impossibility-challenging attitude, which he used in preparation as well as during his swim, is by his spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy (IMSHOF honouree 2012!):

“We are all truly unlimited,
If we only dare to try
And have faith.”
Sri Chinmoy

AAIMG_0760

Mission accomplished!

“The message of self-transcendence
Is itself satisfaction,
Far beyond our imagination.” - Sri Chinmoy

“Self-transcendence-joy
Unmistakably knows
No equal.” - Sri Chinmoy

Kevin-Murphy-Adriano

 

 

 

 

 

We also paid a nice visit to Kevin Murhpy,  “King of the Channel” (34 solo crossings) and secretary of the CS&PF. He has so many amazing stories, he could fill a number of books! Never heard his story before how he got lost on the African coast when swimming the Strait of Gibraltar!

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Update: Start Tue, 9th

Update: right now we are starting on Tue Oct. 9th, around 8:30 – if the start is prevented by fog, the next chance is Wednesday.

Here you may see the boat: http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/de/default.aspx#

For the harbour, enter “Tarifa”, the name of the boat is Columbia 1 or 2.

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25 year Anniversary of the World Harmony Run on April 27th

On April 27, 1987, the first torches of the global relay called World Harmony Run now were lit in New York by UN ambassadors and Sri Chinmoy, the founder, at the U.N. Plaza. This retrospective video shows glimpses of those 25 years. I have been involved in this great project since its beginnings, and will be on the road again soon, meeting school children, city representatives, visiting mosques, synagogues and churches.

For the decade 2012 to 2022, Dr. Davidson Hepburn, President of the UNESCO General Conference, says about the World Harmony Run:

I believe that all global citizens are eagerly looking toward the next decade – 2022 and beyond – as a time of great progress and striking change.

It is imperative that we work together to build a true Oneness-World.
Among recent initiatives to strive toward this goal, the World Harmony Run is one of the most remarkable and far-reaching.

 

This is a link to the website with current events and to Dr. David Hepburn’s speech.

 

 

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Happy New Year!

Weinheim January 1, 2012

Brief New Year`s dip in the lake at Weinheim - warm outside, but water temp only around 7°C

Wishing everyone a happy New Year full of positive challenges, new adventures and progress, inner and outer, for ourselves and in our service to the world!

Booked to swim the Straits of Gibraltar October 2012 – my motto/mantra being “Swimming to Africa” – and started training after almost a year off from swimming.

The swim will be dedicated again to the ideals of the World Harmony Run, but also to the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation and The Last Giants – the whales in the Straits of Gibraltar and the efforts of http://www.firmm.org.

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Cold water training Norwegian style

Found on Steven Munatones Blog DailyNewsOfOpenWaterSimming

Please don`t imitate unless you know what you are doing (and have someone with you to call the ambulance…)!

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Satellite Tracker

Start just changed: 3 a.m. on the boat, 3:30 off.

The tracker of our boat is No 3, Anastasia, where you can follow our route on Friday, start 4:30 a.m. Dover time (5:30 continental)

http://www.ais-doverstraits.co.uk/

Right now I am fighting a slight fever from a very cold caravan night with Aspirin, ginger tea, Vit. C and rest. Hoping to get fit again in time. Prayers welcome!

We decided the van for the biking will only leave Heidelberg IF and When I have touched French ground.

My mantras:

“Do the best you can, cheerfully, accept the worst calmly ….” (by Sri Chinmoy)
and:
“Be courageous, be determined, be self-giving – the goal will be yours!” (inofficial quote by Sri Chinmoy)

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The weather is holding – Friday will be the day…

France so close

France so close

Finally the weather has calmed down. Since Monday there has been one successful swim after the other. The mornings are glorious up here at the Ridge, and at night France is glittering in the distance under a star-strewn clear sky. The flags are flying again at the Ridge, after a long time of horrible weather (hoisted for every successful swimmer staying here).

We are leaving Friday morning for sure. France is waiting! Mentally I am already on the bike and run. (Even if I did not make the swim I decided to continue this time, if only for training reasons.) But everythings is looking great, the water is at it’s warmest now and the sun should be out during the day. Nights are chilly, but then we will start around 4:30 a.m. Dover time, swim mainly during the day and hopefully land in the evening – and the water will feel only warmer for it.

One great last minute helper has emerged – a fast Swedish swimmer who will swim in 3 weeks’ time and is eager to get some experience on the boat and may even want to join me in the water for some time (she could pace a me a bit towards the end). The helpers I had hoped for had to cancel unfortunately.

Flags are flying at the Ridge again - foto session with one of the swimmers

Flags are flying at the Ridge again - foto session with one of the swimmers

So down to last minute preparations, bit of shopping, lots of rest, good food and tapering. Enjoyable simple life. But I am eager to finally get it done and then move on to something else!!!

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Good-bye Vijaya

Vijaya receiving the Gertrude Ederle award

Vijaya receiving the Gertrude Ederle award (photo Dover UK)

On Dec. 23rd we received the sad news that Vijaya Catherine Claxton had left this earth.

She was a respected member of the International Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team who made it across the English Channel from Dover to France the hard way on Sept. 8, 2007, in 22 hours 27 min., after three heroic attempts in the years before. Vijaya, who held a responsible position at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, became the oldest US lady to swim the Channel at age 59, and in March 2008 received the prestigious Gertrude-Ederle-Award for the most meritorious CS&PF English Channel swim by a woman in 2007.

Vijaya was a bubbly person known to a lot of us in the Channel swimming world. She came into our lives determined to swim the Channel and did it on her fourth attempt with Eddie in 2008. Her first three attempts were with me. All were long swims, all were great advances on the previous swim. All were very happy swims with a great support team of girls who enjoyed life to the full. Vijaya, complete with her smile and her willingness to help all around her will be sadly missed by the people who knew her. Those who did not know her missed out on one of the little pleasures of life.” – Mike Oram, pilot and Hon. Secretary of the CS&PF, and Angela Oram, Assistant Hon. Secretary of the CS&PF

Vijaya after her successful swim Sept 2007 with Alison Streeter, Queen of the Channel (44 crossings) and "King" Kevin

Vijaya after her successful swim Sept 2007 with Alison Streeter, Queen of the Channel (43 crossings) and "King" Kevin (photo by Cliff Golding)

“I happened to be on the jetty when Vijaya came off the boat after her Channel swim and I recall being immensely impressed by how cheerful and energetic she was. She wasn’t fast but she had enormous determination. It was a long and therefore a tough swim  – but you never would have known it. She was an inspiration.” - Kevin Murphy, “King of the Channel” (34 crossings)

I remember Vijaya swimming in the Dover harbor, always having a smile on her face, no matter how long she was in the water. The love she had for the water and our sport will be missed.” – Marcy McDonald, Connecticut

She was truly an inspiration. Vijaya taught me so much and I am a better person for having known her.” – Anne Cleveland

More:  www.thewaterisopen.com, on my old blog, on Sri Chinmoy Races and on Open Water Swimmig.eu and Dover UK.

“You don’t have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” – C. S. Lewis

“Death has no access
To the soul.
It only has access
To our weak and fragile body.” - Sri Chinmoy

“Death is at once
The end of the body’s
Old journey
And the beginning of the soul’s
New journey.” – Sri Chinmoy

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