"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own" Sri Chinmoy
Circus Maximus and Appian Way - Rome - September 2018
My trip to Rome was short - around 48 hours in the Eternal City - and most of that was dedicated to the Colors of Peace event at the Colosseum where I was singing in a large international choir. Arriving on Thursday night I made it to the rehearsal in a suburban school before we met up for a brief peace meditation by the Colosseum itself and then it was time to head back to the airport to meet Kokila who had caught a later flight. We turned in around 1am and final practice was at 9am the next morning - was I going to have time to run in Rome? I was keen to run in two iconic places - the ancient racing circuit I'd last visited at the age of ten on a school trip (Circus Maximus) and the equally ancient road into Rome from the port of Ostia - the Appian Way (or Via Appia Antica). Undeterred by lack of sleep I headed out early to run to a bakery to grab us some breakfast and planned in a detour to the first of my two targets on the way.
From the Colosseum area where we were staying it was only a little over a mile of pavement past the Palatine Hill and into the valley of the Circus Maximus. There were a couple of other runners there - apparently it's popular for speedwork at the weekends but at 7am on a Friday there was not much action. I had time to run a circuit though, which felt very much like a continuation of my run at Olympia and other Greek adventures. It would have been nice to clock up a time trial 2 miler but there just wasn't time, so after a single lap of the Circus, to the sound of soft footfalls on the grass and trails rather than the din of horses and chariots, I had to head on to but the cornetti and coffee we needed to get ourselves up and out ready to sing.
The performance was a great experience - the colosseum echoed to the sound of God's Beauty in His Oneness-Home and some of Sri Chinmoy's UN songs that Paree Atkin had woven magically into an arrangement for 5 vocal groups - then after the function was over we had a gap of around 2 hours before our next meeting (a visit to the Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity).
Gelato came first - you have to tick that box in Rome - but I realised I could squeeze a 45 minute run in and maybe that would be enought to reach the Quo Vadis church on the Appian Way and get back in time to shower and meet everyone at the Colosseum to walk to the convent. It's not often I run twice in a day these days, but the first session had been fairly easy so I headed out with a bottle of water and google maps to find the Appian Way.
Navigation was easy and soon I was on the ancient highway - which did not disappoint. Although it was cobbled rather than still being surfaces with the ancient Roman stones (you have to go further out of town to get to that section) the atmosphere was just what I expected and there was a tangible feeling of being transported back through the centuries. I turned at Quo Vadis church, built on the site where St Peter had a famous vision of Christ, and ran hard to get back in time. Entering Rome through the mighty gates in the Aurelian Wall was really something. It had a familiarity about it - maybe a feeling of connection with all those Pilgrims who followed this road over the last two millennia or maybe something more personal, who knows?
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