Chewonki Campground welcomes peace runners

Posted:  Friday, August 10, 2018 - 8:00am

The 2018 Sri Chinmoy Peace Run strode into its final laps in a four-month trip around the country Thursday, Aug. 9, landing for a sleepover at Chewonki Campground in Wiscasset.

The six men and six women traveled 194 miles from Calais to Wiscasset in two days, spreading the message of world peace as they went.

With ages from 21 to 68, the group employs a highly organized system of leap frog to allow runners to stride around two miles of roadway, jump into one of two vans and an RV and ride to the next drop-off. On Thursday, each torch runner did about eight miles to complete the leg from Bangor to the campground. When the last three women arrived, the men already had dinner cooking.

“We rotate the cooking,” said Arpan de Angelo, 68, of New York City. He vowed to run his age every year since he was 24. He is one of the original Peace Run activists who with his friend Banshidhar Medeiros of Hawaii have been taking part since the first run in 1987. 

He keeps being inspired by the young athletes who train to take part in the event which has spread to 150 countries.

“It keeps on getting better and better,” said de Angelo.

Ukrainian-born Yatakara Aleksapolsky, a Montessori teacher living in Vancouver, joined the run in Minneapolis. He said the Peace Run inspired by Indian spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy does not seek corporate support; it relies on individual contributions with most of the organizational work done by the participants.

“We want to run for the people,” he said.

Austrian-born Nikolaus Drekonja, a San Diego waiter, sat with his computer figuring the route of leap frogging laps for the next day. The group planned to run to Kennebunk and backtrack by van to Portland for the night. Six years ago, he did the southern leg from New York City, to the deep south and across to San Diego. This year’s path looped around the northern states, crossed into Canada, went as far east as Nova Scotia, then back through Maine to complete the circle in New York City.

Australian Saranyu Pearson joined the run in Chicago. “We give presentations to schools and college campuses on the way,” she said. Thursday’s stop was at the YMCA in Rockland.

Campground owner Pam Brackett said she was happy to donate two campsites to the group and make a contribution to the organization.