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Run for Freedom 2003

Updates From The Road
Cincinnati Ohio to Leavenworth Kansas
June 21st - June 29th

June 21 - Cincinnati, OH to Danville, IN, 80 miles.
   Eleven people, nine of them runners, gathered in Northern Cincinnati to begin the Run for Freedom in prayer. After smudging and Jim's reading of the last passage of Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance (a recent publication about Leonard Peltier), we sent the first runner off with the sacred staff in hand.  Throughout the day the miles were completed, however, there was a little juggling of miles and runners: Jim was learning how to balance his newly diagnosed diabetes with running and had to trade in his last mile and a half, and Dale Van Fleet stopped short of his fifteen miles due to the effects of a recent accident that resulted in a collapsed lung. Ellie stepped up to the plate to help him finish his miles and all was well.  Our overnight hosts were awaiting our arrival, but due to our delay in getting on the road in the morning, and the numerous attempts of navigating inner city Indianapolis, we would have arrived quite late in the evening if we completed all the miles allotted this day. The decision was made to run the last thirty miles first thing in the morning, and head in to the church to gather with the community.  Wonderful is a great description of our experience at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Hendricks County ! Marcia, the community leader of the church, organized a display board with information about the run and Peltier, and with her husband, and Steve (the church caretaker), assembled a wonderful Italian dinner complete with pie and ice cream to nourish our bodies and spirits.  After dinner, and into the wee hours of the next day, several new runners came to join the Run for Freedom. Three recent high school graduates and two experienced peace pilgrims joined us in lacing up our shoes and "slappin' pavement" (John Berkendine's opinion of running). We were very happy to see them, as they would be replacing the five runners that were departing after they finished their miles on Sunday. A wonderful day to begin a run that continues to lay the prayers and leave the footprints of peace.

June 22, - Danville, IN to Newman, IL, 120 miles.
   After a good nights sleep, yummy breakfast, and morning prayer circle, two groups of runners were sent off. Four went to cover the 30 miles in Indianapolis from yesterday, and Jim and Julie were sent to get in five each before returning to the church to participate in their Sunday service.  The service was great! Jim spoke at length to the congregation about Leonard's story, Sacred Run and the Run for Freedom. Julie spoke of the Fingers for Peace project and the FootPrints quilt. Many new friends were made, and Jim noted how the church's presence has created quite a change in Danville. In 1997, the Run for Freedom followed this same route through Danville and every vehicle was pulled over a ticketed for some reason or another. This year there were no incidents what-so-ever and we felt very welcome. Another new arrival came in the morning! Sean, an experienced Sacred Runner, a.k.a. Little Goat, joined the group and completed 23 miles! And Willie, a wonderful elder in the group, at age 89, (she turns 90 on the run), walked her mile today. Great weather, good dinner, and very nice nature preserve all make for a good completion of the day. All miles covered, all prayers laid, and all runners well. We look forward to tomorrow.

June 23 - Newman, IL to Springfield, IL, 90 miles.
   Another new arrival came this morning! Jun San, a Nipponzan Miyohoji Buddhist Nun joined the run. The big excitement today was coordinating an overnight location. Several options were looked at at the last minute. A contact made last month came through and offered "The Space". The running was great! Although the sun made things rather hot, with little sign of relief in the future. A couple of runners had to go home this evening, and the overnight situation for the next day is as follows: Springfield, IL to Bowling Green, MO, with camping at the Cozy C RV Park.

June 24 - Springfield, IL to Bowling Green, MO, 90 miles.
   The day started out with five runners from "The Space" covering 13 miles. Then we wished Willie a happy 90th Birthday! And this is Ralph's two year anniversary of being clean and sober! Even though there was no walkway, John Caffinated ran across the Mississippi river (with a hazard-flashing car behind him)! During Jun San's walk, two reporters showed up and they contacted Jim and he did two interviews with Jacksonville newspapers.  Viola Hatch, a long time friend, will be joining the run Thursday night. Overnights for the next two days: Wednesday at Oakley, MO (location to be determined), and Thursday will be somewhere close to Richmond, MO.  Today went very smooth, all got to camp around 4 pm. Helen from the Cozy C RV campground donated Frisbees and candy to give to children on the Kickapoo Reservation when the run arrives. Relaxation and dinner and a birthday celebration are the plans for the evening, with strawberry shortcake the hot item on the menu.

June 25 - Bowling Green, MO to Moberly, MO, 88 miles.
   Jun San followed by Doyle ran out of camp in the morning. Jun San went running with her drum, and Doyle carried the staff. Mark and Liz from "The Space" spent another evening with the run. The temperatures were, once again, the major concern, but rain was on the horizon. As Jim prepared to take on his miles, storm clouds loomed on the horizon. He ran about 1/2 mile before the clouds opened up, and the rain began to fall. At one point the temperature dropped, and hail followed. If this wasn't bad enough, with his head tilted to the side to avoid hail balls, Jim spied a tornado forming, however it didn't touch down. The group as a whole is really coming together. The running days are long because there are only 11 people, but today, Jim was the only one who got rained on. As they got into camp, it was thoroughly pouring. After about 1/2 hour, the rain stopped and the food came out. Today, they talked a lot about tomorrow being the anniversary of the shoot-out at the Jumping Bull residency on Pine Ridge (the incident that would eventually lead to Peltier's imprisonment).

June 26 - Moberly, MO to Richmond, MO, 83 miles.
   We got up this morning to dry weather and cooler temperatures (73 degrees). Good running weather!  Doyle and Willie found a big buffalo ranch down the street from our overnight location. So the menu tonight is buffalo steaks!!! Thoughts today focused on Leonard and all the people who have participated in this run, but are not here to finish it with us. There are so many incidents and circumstances that change our lives every moment and every day. We pray that those who are touched by the runs feel in their hearts the true meaning of "all life is scared." Happy Birthday to Joni! She is our coordinator for the Leavenworth area, and has done a tremendous amount of work to make the final days of the run wonderful! A special thanks to the A.I.M. Support Group of Kansas for all their help.

   Early morning: runners are leaving at 4 am. We will all meet together at 9 am, 10 miles east of Leavenworth on Rte 92. Since all people are not able to run, we will walk the last 10 miles together. We will have a gathering at 1 pm at the Riverside Park in Leavenworth. Then we will caravan to Horton, KS and relay-run 10 miles from Horton, KS to the Kickapoo Indian Reservation.

Last Running Day June 27th
   Jonnie D, Jim, Simon, Dillon and Jonnie C all woke up at 4am greeted by Jun-san who had got up at 3:30 am to make us coffee. We had a small circle and then off we went some of us were running but Jonnie C. had the toughest job drop the four of us off to start running then drive back to camp get everyone up and going and be back out on the road by 7am I knew with Jun-san helping that would be no problem. It was a beautiful morning you could still see the crescent moon and the morning star as the sun was rising. I love to run that early. Everything went like clock work all of us runners had run 1/2 mile to a mile past our marks but that was okay with us. We all gathered ten miles outside of Leavenworth and were joined by Don, Viola and Sue Hatch. We had decided that since everyone couldn't run we would walk as a group the last 10 miles together. We started this adventure together we would finish it together. About three miles into it we were joined by Dewey and his partner from the Kickapoo Indian Reservation and Joni from the KS AIM support Group. We came to another bridge and the group as a whole was not going to make it across so two of the runners ran it while they blocked traffic. The rest of the group was transported across. Once we arrived in Leavenworth we took a short break at Riverside park had some lunch and then we moved on to Leavenworth Prison. Outside the prison some chanted with drums Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo tradition for the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order others just stood in silence and prayed. We did one interview and during that interview we were visited by two guards. Their exact words were " The Warden doesn't give a s$%t (use your imagination) if you people are out here or not but he doesn't want you in front of the prison. So we moved across the street and continued there. We ended the ceremony and caravanned to the Kickapoo Res were we were treated for two days of big meals, relaxing and ceremonies.

I would like to Thank everyone who made this years Run for Freedom a complete success!
Peace to all,
Jim Toren and Julie Hegge