First five days of Pat Farmer’s run in India

Girls School Attingal_Kevin Nguyen s


Pat Farmer, ex politician and Australia’s ultra-marathon runner is running 4,600 kms from Kanyakumari, in the south of India, to Kashmir in the north. Pat has run the longest and the most difficult marathon in 2011-12 from North to the South pole when he raised $100,000 for Red Cross International.

Alleppey East School_Kevin Nguyen s










Now he has taken this another difficult mission of ”˜Spirit of India’ run as he passes through many interesting and famous Indian tourist destinations. And it is not just for nothing. Pat is doing this time for ”˜Education of girl child of India’ supporting government of India’s project ”˜Nanhi Kali’. Pat would like all in Australia to donate for the cause by visiting his website:

Rest before Karuvatta_Kevin Nguyen s

Here we give excerpts of his first five days out of the scheduled sixty with Pat having covered around 300kms already of the ambitious 4,600 km run.

1st Day: 67km, From Kanyakumari to Poovar

Today was the official launch of the Spirit of India Run, it was also Australia Day and India Republic Day. Thousands of people gathered in Kanyakumari ”“ the southern tip of India where the three seas met and the sacred site where Gandhi’s ashes were kept ”“ to see Patrick Farmer off.

Pat received a call from the Governor General Peter Cosgrove before the run. Mr Cosgrove told him he was a wonderful asset to both countries and asked him to carry on the spirit and nobility of Australia with him over the next 66 days.

At the start of the run, hundreds of people formed an entourage with Pat including the Deputy Commissioner of Australian to India, Chris Elstoft. Many of the runners were children and they followed him until the border of Tamilnadu into Kerala. Pat met with school children at the border and continued on until we reached the Estuary Island Resort in Poovar.

The humidity was unexpected and took a lot out of Pat. Later in his room the medical director and the crew manager, Dr Joseph Grace and Katie Walsh, examined him and readjusted his hydration schedule to cope with the extreme conditions. We laid him in a bed of ice ”“ “like a prawn,” as one of our crew put it ”“ and despite the strenuous circumstances, wrote the day off as a success.


Day 2: Poovar to Varkala

Pat Farmer’s second day was the most difficult days of his life. The humidity had reached 88 per cent with temperature staying steady at 36 degrees. Doctors and crew on standby were quite concerned as Pat stopped sweating which can indicate severe dehydration. But he soldiered on to reach a school where hundreds of girls were waiting to greet him.

He spoke to the girls and challenged them to find something in life that they would like to achieve. Girls smiled and giggled shyily and ran with him for about 500 metres as he moved on under the hot Kerala sun.

That day he was hardly able to do around 40km of the scheduled 80km a day. Since he advocates ”˜one step at a time’ it was not easy for Pat who has decided to cover 4,600 kms in all.

”‹Day 3: 80.3km, Varkala to Karuvatta

In India, many residents pile their garbage on the side of the road and burn them at noon. Over the past two days, while Pat was running down the streets during this time, he felt like his lungs were burning. The smoke from plastics, leaves and god-knows-what-else meant he had to take shallower breaths; he would avoid the smoke and pollution, but he loses carbon dioxide and as a result would become light-headed.

Only after exhausting first two days Pat was able to catch up on the third day and was happy that finally now that he had got used to India and its heat.

The film crew that followed Pat covered the state festival with over 60 elephants marching in the parade. We are sure Pat Farmer is experiencing India from up close what it is all about and the crowds that came to cheer him.

Day 4: 65.2km, Karuvatta to Kochi

Pat writes in his blog: “The coastline of Kerala could be mistaken for a billboard or a brochure. There were open and sprawling coastlines of blue seas and white sand. If we weren’t a stone throw away from it, we wouldn’t believe our eyes. More inland, winding rivers cut through the towns; their surface caked with lily pads and green. The bridge we used to cross into the city of Kochi divided the salt water from the ocean to the fresh waters of Kerala.”

“Magnificent,” Pat said. “This place is beyond our wildest imagination.”

He visited another girls’ school on day 4, this time in Allappuzha.

Pat did a tour of the classrooms and once he got his hands on some chalk, he began mapping out his Pole to Pole run for the children to see.

Pat spoke of every worldly thing which crossed his mind ”“ from the scenic landscapes of the Americas, to the people of the middle-east and to polar bears and kangaroos. The children were attentive, they may not have even fully understood what he was saying but they were  engrossed. “So many people in developed countries die in the same corner where they were born, but not us. We sincerely hoped all those girls would be able to travel and see the world like we were doing; but to do that they needed an education and to be able to read and write.” Pat says.

He stopped at Yuvarani Residency and met Mayor of Kochi, Soumini Jain.  Pat and his crew were bestowed with gifts that comprised ornate frames, scarfs, elephant statues and wall decorations. Pat has this habit of keeping all the souvenirs from his travels and would soon have to send them home to Australia or add another vehicle to the convoy.

Pat says about his marathon in India, “I wanted to do this at a grassroots level. I wanted to do this face to face. I want people back home in Australia, and indeed the world, to see, hear and smell India through my eyes.

“It’s about showcasing the kindness, the generosity and the magnificence of the people themselves.

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