There’s no telling if the tranquil surroundings will slow competitors down or inspire them, but runners and walkers of all abilities will have the chance to participate in a Warror Run in the Buddhist peace gardens of the Kunzang Palyul Choling temple this Saturday.
Miki Johanison, the event’s organizer, has spent the last few weeks putting the course together in KPC’s 65-acre park in Poolesville. The course, more than a mile long, weaves through thick wooded trails and past the park’s collection of stupas.
A stupa is a mound-like structure or sculpture which holds Buddhist relics. There are more than 10 scattered about KPC’s peace park, some of which are dozens of feet tall.
The temple’s warrior run will be a bit of a “downgrade,” compared to similar, more competitve races, said Johanison, with the objective of having a more fun, less competitive event.
“This is such a fun course ... It’s got something for everyone,” said Johanison, or Sherab Khandro, as she is known at KPC, in an email to the Gazette.
Khandro, who was a longtime runner until a stroke sidelined her nearly a decade ago, was ordained at KPC in 2008, she said, the culmination of a 17-year spiritual search and investigation. Before that, she was a military policewoman. She is one of the more than 30 monks and nuns ordained at the temple, making it one of the largest in the nation.
She decided to host the event “to help people make a connection to the park,” she said. “I hear all the time, ‘I can’t believe you’ve been here for 30 years,’” she said.
The warrior run will wind its way through the park’s five “color gardens,” which the temple community believes represent certain wisdoms, Khandro said.
It will also pass by a meditation garden and the park’s central stupa, which rises more than 30 feet above the ground.
Proceeds from the event will go to helping fund the temple and community’s costs, and the remainder will go to a local food bank, she said. Prizes will be given for best time, oldest, youngest and most dirty participants. She expects 30 to 60 participants, she said.
The temple has been praying continuously — around the clock — for the last 27 years, Khandro said, and hosts an animal sanctuary for injured parrots. Members of the community also work with prison inmates interested in Buddhism and with “Tara’s Babies,” a no-kill shelter based in northern Arizona. It also sponsors stupa construction in other parts of the country and world, including a giant red stupa in Sedona, Ariz.