NEW YORK—The World Harmony Run, a torch relay spanning 100 countries and 50 states, concluded its U.S. portion of the race at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza in New York City on Monday, August 25.
Runners from around the world engaged in the 11,000-mile relay to all 50 states that lasted 17 weeks. They endured the journey “over mountains and across deserts, through searing heat and drenching rain” according to a speaker at the event.
The relay travels globally every two years to encourage goodwill at both the local and international levels by holding simultaneous events that occur in 100 nations throughout North and South American, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
The late athlete and philosopher Sri Chinmoy created the World Harmony Run in 1987 with the belief that sports are a powerful instrument for promoting global harmony.
The organization helps people “express harmony in their own lives, not just running but through poetry, artwork, and music,” said Salil Wilson, executive director of the U.S. running team.
The U.S. World Harmony Run started on April 10th this year from the same location as its conclusion in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza near the United Nations headquarters.
Marking the conclusion of the U.S. portion of the World Harmony Run were musical performances by the New York Housing Youth Chorus and Boris Grebenshchikov followed by a parade of representatives from various countries, accompanying torch bearers that ran the relay.
The U.S. Run followed a circular coast-to-coast route around the nation that included major cities like Chicago, Illinois, Seattle, Washington, San Francisco, California: Maui, Hawaii; and Anchorage, Alaska.
The team grew and shrank in size as runners, athletes and non-athletes, young and old alike, joined and departed from the run along the course of the route.
The relay was estimated to have visited 50,000 school children in over 1,000 cities and towns. Runners offered classroom presentations promoting self-esteem and friendship in schools they visited.
The European leg of the World Harmony Run began in Rome, Italy on March 27, launching a 7-month Run through 49 European nations that will conclude mid-October, in Prague, Czech Republic.
More than five million people have participated in the Run since its inception in 1987, including an estimated 1,000,000 runners worldwide this year. Supporters of the cause have come from many areas including religious leaders, political leaders, athletes, humanitarians, and entertainers.
The torch has passed through the hands of world figures over past years such as President Nelson Mandela, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and many others.
The goal of the Run is to bridge “the cultural and social boundaries that separate nation from nation,” said spokesman for the Run and 9-time track-and-field Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis in a statement from the organization. “By covering so many thousands of miles on foot, these courageous runners will encourage countless young people to transcend our differences and, instead, embrace our common aspiration for a better world,”
The World Harmony Run will start up again in New York in two years, in 2010, but activities will continue on the local level around the globe.