U.N. DAY RUN FOR UNICEF – 1976 Oct 24 Edinburgh to London

Filed under europe | Peace walk/run for UN | Sport & Athletics | UN Anniversaries

Sixteen young men ran a 450-mile relay from Edinburgh to London to raise money for UNICEF and promote the ideals of the United Nations in conjunction with U.N. Day on 24 October.

The runners were all students of spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy, who is Leader of the Meditation Group at the United Nations. They ranged in age from 21 to 28, and came from all walks of life: student, printer, teacher, civil servant and university Writer in Residence.

To symbolise the rekindling of the spiritual values and ideals upon which the United Nations was founded, the runner passed from hand to hand a flaming torch, which was kept burning throughout the three-day, non-stop run.

It was the same torch which was carried through all fifty states in the U.S. this past summer as part of a 9,OOO-mile Bicentennial relay run. That run was made by a group of American students of Sri Chinmoy who went by the name “Liberty Torch Runners.” The torch was re-kindled for the 16 British runners as their Declaration of Purpose was read out at a brief pre-run ceremony on 21 October in Edinburgh. “We . . . share the same spiritual values and human ideals as those upon which the United Nations was founded.

Through its continuing self-sacrifice , we see the United Nations as having a tremendous opportunity in the coming years to inspire the qualities of truth, peace and understanding in the hearts of all mankind. These qualities we believe to be the birthright of every human being. By running this 450-mile marathon we hope to bring more attention to the United Nations, its role and its importance in representing the highest in human potential.”

A copy of the Declaration was presented to Councillor M. N. Mansbridge, representing the Lord Provost (Lord Mayor), who had been unable to attend in person, and was also sent to U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim in New York.

Said Mrs. Mansbridge: “1 am very pleased and honoured to be associated with such a venture . . .. I am especially pleased that you are raising money for UNICEF, with which I have a long standing connection. I think what you’re doing is a tremendous undertaking, very ambitious. I really admire your aspirations, and 1 wish you every success .. . . ” Mrs. Mansbridge then made a donation on behalf of the City of Edinburgh.

Chris Black, Scotland’s Olympic hammer thrower, then presented a medal to the runners and said he was full of admiration for what they were doing. He commented on the high degree of physical fitness necessary for the undertaking, and the amount of dedicated training which must have taken place.  Mr. Black took the torch and passed it to the first runner, who immediately set off on the first stage of the journey.


Ms. Nansi Mansbridge, an Edinburgh Councillor, addresses the U. N . Day runners at the start of the run With her is Chris Black, a British Olympic hammer-thrower.



The torch was carried round-the-clock through Newcastle and York, Leeds and Sheffield, Derby and Leicester, finally reaching London on 24 October, which was U.N. Day. The runners covered about 160 miles per day, with each runner carrying the torch for a stint of 5 to 10 miles every 18 hours. Sponsors donated a set amount to UNICEF for each mile run.

bu-scpmaun-1976-10-27-vol-04-n-10-oct_Page_48-un-run-london-2Mr. Ray Harrington presents the Declaration of Purpose to Mr. M. Popovic, Acting Director of the United Nations in London. Behind are (left to right) Lt. Colonel! D.S.F. Bult-Francis O.B.E., Director of UNICEF in London, and Mr. Eric Price-Holmes C.B.E., Chairman of the United Nations Association in London.

The runners, who had been divided into two teams, met in Trafalgar Square and ran together for the last stretch to Parliament Square. There, outside the Houses of Parliament, they presented a cheque for 500 pounds to Reg Prentice, Minister for Overseas Development, who received it on behalf of UNICEF. Mr. Prentice also received a copy of the group’s Declaration of Purpose and a copy of Beyond Within, a collection of writings by Sri Chinmoy, who inspired the undertaking.

The runners present the cheque for UNICEF to Mr. Reg Prentice, Minister for Overseas Development.

The runners outside the Houses of Parliament In Parliament Square, London.

Visibly moved by the gesture, Mr. Prentice expressed his gratitude and, referring to the book, said, “Well, I’m not familiar with this book. I haven’t read it ; that something I have to look forward too But if this Declaration is anything to go by, then I go along with it all the way. These are the ideals I hope this generation would want to live by. And not only this generation , but future generations. ” Ken Pittendritch, Senior Information Officer for the United Nations in London, then commented that of all the ways in which United Nations Day had been observed in Britain, this run was surely one of the most enterprising. Also present to greet the runners were Michael Popovic from the London United Nations Information Centre, Col. Bult-Francis, Chairman of the United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF, and Eric Price-Homes, Honourable Chairman of the United Kingdom United Nations Association.

– Excerpt from Periodic Bulletin:  “Meditation at the United Nations” October 1976

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