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In Escalade race, “Pilgrims” find meaning running

In Escalade race, “Pilgrims” find meaning running

Part of the WCC team running the Escalade race on 2 December in Geneva. ©WCC

04 December 2017

Joy Eva Bohol was running the Escalade race on 2 December in Geneva as part of the World Council of Churches (WCC) “Pilgrims for Justice and Peace” team when she realized a young woman nearby was having trouble continuing.

There was noisy cheering, and other runners rushing past, when Bohol, WCC programme executive for Youth Engagement, stopped to help her fellow runner, a high school girl, to get water and catch her breath.

Then Bohol went on to finish her own race.

“I reflected that this race was a time for me to not only focus on myself and how I finish, but to be sensitive and aware of the people I was running with,” she said. “This was an example of how we need to listen and observe.”

Bohol said she was proud to be part of WCC’s Pilgrims for Justice and Peace team, which included 10 runners and walkers as well as a dedicated support crew, all wearing eye-catching shirts and smiles of accomplishment with spiritual meaning in their physical movement.

They all had the courage to face freezing temperatures and a stiff wind, alternately huddling together and jumping up and down to stay warm.

For the Pilgrims team, participating in “l’Escalade” was a way of strengthening team unity and expanding WCC’s visibility.

Bohol reflected: “It was about not leaving anybody behind - like who we are as an ecumenical movement.”

She crossed the finish line along with record 50,000 other runners who participated in one of Geneva’s most beloved events, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Runners and walkers coursed through Geneva’s Old Town, leaving from the rue de la Croix-Rouge and arriving on the Promenade des Bastions, buoyed by bands playing lively music and crowds of spectators lining the course to cheer: “Aller, aller!” (“Go, go!”)

WCC represents the voice of half a billion Christians across the world, but it is also a vital part of the community in Geneva, noted Dr Ani Ghazaryan Drissi, WCC programme executive for the Faith and Order Commission.

Ghazaryan Drissi was instrumental in getting the WCC involved in the race for the first-time last year.

“The event is an excellent possibility for team-building, bringing together colleagues from different programmes and departments,” said Ghazaryan Drissi. “It is also a good opportunity for their well-being as individuals.”

Finally, she added, “it is a way to join with others on the WCC journey, the pilgrimage of justice and peace in celebrating life and transforming injustices and violence.”

Learn more about the WCC's Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace