Pat Farmer starts his marathon run today on January 26!

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Pat Farmer at the start of  his marathon run from Kanyakumari as people run along with him in great spirit

By Neena Badhwar

Spirit of India run by Australian ultra-marathon runner Pat Farmer started today on 26th of January. This run will help strengthen relations between India and Australia.

Pat Farmer will run close to 5,000 kms from the southern tip of India from Kanya Kumari to the north to Kashmir with him running about 86kms every day which he will complete in 60 days.

Pat Farmer will be passing through 300 important archaeological sites along the way. He will be be touching Cochin, Mangalore, Mumbai, through Gujarat, through Rajasthan, Udai pur, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi and then to Sri Nagar. Pat will be passing through some important tourist destinations which will increase awareness about India and its heritage places to people in Australia. Pat was asked many questions by sports journalists and others through google hang out about his ambitious marathon run through India.

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How did he get into running  marathons where he has completed 20,000 kms. Says he, “I was inspired by 63-year old marathon runner Cliff Young as he inspired the nation no matter how old you are. This run is a metaphor for that reason.

Why India? “Highest migration at the moment is hapening from the Indian sub-continent. There is a great comraderie between us as sporting nations right now as we are at the moment playing cricket with each other.”

India’s High Commissioner Navdeep Suri says, “We felt that through Pat Farmer’s run can we get a visual of India through his eyes. This kind of diplomacy can help connect the two countries.”

Cultural sites Pat will be running through is rather more than a 1,000 sites and the stretch that he will be passing through will also include  13 important world heritage sites. Three in Delhi, another three in Agra, also in Rajasthan. Pat will be looking at these beautiful sites and many stories he will be able to relate back to Australia.

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Pat Farmer says about the run, “There is so much more to see than just my run from the southern tip to the north and the sense of adventure that goes along with this run.”

Pat Farmer is running also for the cause of and support the girl child of India.

What is his advice to amateur runners is that running is just being active, “There are so many health issues these days like diabetes. Whether it be Cricket, Soccer any other sport its all about movement. My advice is just come out with me if you put your mind to it and participate with me putting one foot in front of the other. You know you can do it too.”

Says he, abour girl education,, “I was a member of parliament and my portfolio was education, science and training for nine years. I travelled around the world when I visited other places and found that girls do not get as many opportunites as they have in Australia. If you educate the girls, you educate the family. If you educate the family you educate the nation. In India there is a great emphasis on education of girl child and I feel it must be supported.”

What motivates him, says Pat, “Running makes me mentally and physically active. It opened up so many opportunities for me. I was only a motor mechanic from western suburbs and for me to meet important people, people in sport, in Bollywood is just so inspiring for me.”

Says Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, “Best way to showcase a destination is through Pat’s eyes, his experience, his travalogue that he will be doing everyday. He is doing it though with a lot of granularity and feel that is why we have pulled out all stops and got all the states lined up for Pat whereevr he goes.”

Pat Says says about his heart rate and all the technology will be available on his blog:

Any personal danger he has faced during his marathon runs, says he, “I have come across wolves, polar bears, big black bears, very close encounters with them and when people ask how I can run so fast. When you are being chased by a bear you can imagine.”

He says about the run, “It is not a journey from point A to point B or set a world record. It is the messages that we aim to get out to the world. Along the way there are schools to reach on time, I could be running30kms to make on time, and the distance is only done in daylight hours and there are functions along the way where they offer me flowers and then I am on my way to meet the next schedule. It can be quite busy. It is about engaging the public as much as I can.”

What is your day’s schedule, “My day starts at 6am, having gotten up at 4am with some stretches, warm ups, there will be TV cameras shooting my run, what my diet is, the heartache I go through. People can ask questions on my blog, my diet, how many pairs of shoes I go through.”

80 kms a day for sixty days is a tough ask, race against time, what’s the preparation like, says Pat, “It is trying to live upto that role model character. I already see the vision in my mind somewhere way up there in Kashmir when I only take my first step. I have been racing around the beach of Bondi to try and increase my stamina. There is nobody there to clap you, nobody there to cheer you on or hand you a drink, even when you are carrying an injury and no one to help you is when you call on your inner self and you build your inner strength.”

“Many years ago I ran around Australia as I heard the roar of the crowd and Stave Waugh asked me to talk to players when I remember saying ”˜take one step at a time’. And when Steve went on to score a double century he had said ”“ I listened to Pat Farmer and played that one ball at a time and before I realise I had scored these runs. Its all about one step at a time.”

To prepare himself Pat was doing 50kms everyday during his training.

Without a doubt, the toughest run for Pat was from north pole to the south pole. “From minus forty degrees and going through as ice cracks apart, facing polar bears, hungry seals changing clothes many times, running through Canada, USA, Mexico, Nicragua, Guatmala and South America I still wonder how on earth could I do it. It is amazing what you can pull out of human beings. That is what this is for me this journey and my life is about, trying to show people the power that they have locked within themselves to achieve goals simply when they give it a go.”

“You are only as good as your last event that you did. Nothing in the past what I did matters. I need all you to suuport me for this journey now in India.”

Whole of India is with Pat Farmer and the spirit they have shown to be with him every kilometre he runs as he runs through various cities and all the people run along with him in a spirit of goodwill.

What a great way to help build bridges and relation between two nations ”“ and to start it on January 26 ”“ on India’s Republic Day and Australia Day. And it is for the support of education for the girl child.

TIDU and its readers wish all the best to you Pat!







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