http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/293783

World Harmony Runners Tackle Oregon Special

Posted Jun 24, 2010 by Ken Wightman
Two women, one from Russia, run up and then down the steep grades of a mountain road deep in the Oregon woods Wednesday. Why? For world harmony, they explain.
Surya Smolennikova  of Russia  left  and Abhejali Bernardova  of the Czech Republic  jog along highw...
Surya Smolennikova, of Russia, left, and Abhejali Bernardova, of the Czech Republic, jog along highway 18 in the forested mountains of southwestern Oregon Wednesday. Smolennikova carries the torch of the World Harmony Run.
On Wednesday the 2010 World Harmony Run USA made its way across Oregon. When the entire 10,000-mile route has been run, the participants will have taken the torch-passing relay to all 50 states.
The runners encourage many of those they meet to carry the torch for a short distance, becoming a torch bearer. This reporter was coaxed by Abhejali Bernardova, of the Czech Republic, to take a hand-off from Surya Smolennikova, the Russian runner carrying the torch.
Kshetragna Ulanova, one Russian on the team crossing Oregon, has always been interested in seeing the States and meeting Americans. She says that when the chance arose to visit the U.S. she jumped at the opportunity. Surya Smolennikova, another Russian runner, says she enjoys travelling. Being part of the Harmony Run was her chance to visit the States and to strike a blow, so to speak, for a peaceful world. Both women have said they have enjoyed meeting Americans, whom they find very warm and friendly.
It was originally conceived by the late Sri Chinmoy, an Indian philosopher and spiritual teacher whose teachings emphasized love for God. He had a tolerant religious view, seeing all faiths as divinely inspired. He also promoted daily meditation and dedicated service to the world.
His message lost focus when he was attacked on a number of fronts by former students. See Wikipedia for more information on Chinmoy who died in 2007 while living in his adopted country, the United States. Today his relay lives on and is gaining support from many divergent groups.
Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King, Carl Lewis and Avril Lavigne have all at one time or another been associated with the World Harmony Run. Some simply held the torch and others have taken a more active and supportive role.
The run appears to have outgrown its founder and now takes its strength from an international mix of dedicated participants.