Pat Farmer reaches Karnataka

PAt Farmer - School in Udupi_by_kevin nguyen s










Day 8: Vadakar to Thaliparamaba, 80km

Pat Farmer has by now covered around 800 kms of his 4600 km run from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. He has to his credit world’s unique ultra marathon run which include his run from North to the South pole. He ran through some of the most difficult terrains, waterways, mountains that came in his way. There were polar bears, snakes, seals and other animals on the way. At times he had to swim through fast running bodies of freezing water. He met people living in remote regions who are completely untouched by the urbanised world of today. He has run for Peace, Father O’Riley’s Youth of the Street, for Red Cross, Lifeline, Cancer Council of Australia, Diabetes Australia. Pat trekked from the  North Pole to the South Pole running two marathons every day, for almost a year,  over 20,000 kms  through  14 countries and raised  $100 million  for the International Red Cross. Pat has dedicated his life to meeting and making life of people better through his runs. Yet when you meet him in person he is the most humble man when he says that he cannot believe the feats he has achieved, “I was only just a mechanic from Sydney’s west.”

Pat’s ”˜Spirit of India’ run is coupled with the message of ”˜Education for the girl child’. Pat asks all in Australia to donate by visiting his blog:

On his eighth day of run Pat reached a city called Mahe on the way to Kunnar, says he, “A lot of people in India handle their vehicles like it’s somewhere between a weapon and a derailed mine cart. People are cutting into the oncoming lanes, cars are honking like their horns are tied to the brakes, buses and bikes are swerving in and out traffic. A typical Sydney driver would have been pancaked less than 100 metres out of Delhi airport.”

Well one knows that in India the traffic is so unregulated that there is an accident happening every minute.

He further adds, “Of course it all works, even though it seems like everyone is desperate get somewhere, there is a collective understanding ”“ keep moving, and we’ll be alright.

“There was this cow in the middle of the road, it was walking down the road like it owned the place,” Pat said at the end of his run on day eight.

“One thing I find with Indian people is that they’re so accepting,” Pat said. “In Australia they’d be panicking if they saw a cow on the road.

“They’d be screaming about how it could cause an accident and people would would to get it off the road – but here, nobody flinches.”

The film crew told Pat the cow was staring at him the entire time; he began laughing so hard he had a coughing fit. “The cow sees me and he was thinking ‘gee, that’s funny’.”

”‹At the end of the day Pat and his entourage stayed at Green Park Hotel    in Payyanur. Unlike other establishments which adhere to a geometric design, this building makes use of spiral staircases and branching corridors to give it a feeling that it is bigger on the inside.

Day 9: Thaliparamba to Kasaragod, 80km

PAt Farmer - bekal

Pat stopped at Bekal Fort on day 9, the largest fort in Kerala which was situated at the coast near Kasaragod. The fort has stood since the 16thcentury and key battles which helped cement the fate of empires were fought here. From the Tipu Sultan to the British Empire, who used the fort as a base of operations to solidify their presence in southern India and Bombay.

This fort is one of the few which has been built purely for defensive purposes and not as a reinforced centre of administration or commercial centre. The portholes on which sat at the top and bottom of the battlements were used to maximise the distance of launched projectiles while also allowing the defenders to strike attackers who reached the walls. In the centre of the grounds was a large observatory ”“ from there, sentries would have view of the surrounding area for miles. Even in the cover of the jungle, not even a smaller auxiliary force could slip by unnoticed.

Trying to capture Bekal Fort would have been an exercise in futility. When the British East India Company took control of fort it was not earned but bestowed to them following the death of the Tipu Sultan in 1799.

After the rest at night on tenth day Pat is crossing the border from of Kerala to enter Karnataka to reach the city of Mangalore.

Day 10: Kasaragod to Padubidri, 80km

Pat is now slowly getting acclimatised to the heat and dust of India and is able to comfortably do his scheduled 80 km runs. It was only the first two days when the heat got to him and he had stopped sweating. He was given a drip to hydrate and must have wondered how the run will go. But his philosophy that ”˜take each step at a time’ has always stood in good stead for Pat. So he moves on to finish his tenth day run by crossing Manjeshwar the last city in Kerala. Pat finds the road much more cleaner with no garbage dumps on the side as the mayor there says that waste disposal and sanitation are the number one priorities in her district. Pat believes that most of the problems can be solved by education. “If you instil in people a sense of pride from a young age, the problems would be resolved in a matter of one or two generations.”

Part of the fun of being on his crew is guessing what Pa will do next. He asked two boys to come up to the stage and asked them to hold up an empty bottle.

“It’s not so heavy, is it?” Pat said. “Keeping your streets clean is about having a sense of pride for your home? If you saw a group of foreigners like us dump hundreds of bottles on your streets it would make you upset, wouldn’t it?

“We all need to carry a little bit of extra burden with us; we all have a part to play in keeping our streets and our homes clean.

“India is such a beautiful place, it makes me upset to see so much rubbish along the roads.”

Day 11: Padubiri to Maravanthe, 80km

PAt Farmer - school s

English is a big part of the Indian school curriculum, but you’ll come across signs where you understand what they’re saying but objectively on its own doesn’t quite get there. It’s part of the charm of the country and you become accustomed to it.

While we might say “I’ll get back to you” in our emails, they would instead use the phrase “will revert”. Instead of asking for a take-away box, you instead ask for a “parcel”. In context, it makes complete sense, but native English speakers will notice idiosyncrasies about how they employ certain phrases ”“ it’s a combination of being a bit too literal, a lack of nuance and not using the best word for that definition. It’s as if a phrase in Hindi was run through Google Translate several times and they shrugged their shoulders and just went with the fifth or sixth result.

For example one street sign read: “Using cellular while driving can be considered suicidal”.

The Karnataka government had organised a   huge reception for Pat as thousands of school children from the district came and lined up on the sides of the roads to welcome him.

Pat gave high fives to them as he ran across when he suddenly stopped dead at the sight of a nun who had stepped out from the crowd. His crew wondered what it was for which Pat stopped when he said, “I went to catholic school,” adding, “If I didn’t stop, my mum would have shot me.”

Day 12: Padubidri to Maravanthe, 80km

Pat stopped at a huge Shiva deity while running from Maravanthe to Honnavar, some of the crew took a detour at Bhatal Tulak,  to visit the famous Murdeshwar Temple . The tower, or more specifically, the gopura, stands 72 metre over the Arabian Sea. When the sun sets behind it, it can cast an impressive shadow over Murdeshwar Beach where thousands of families, tourists and teenagers spend the day enjoying the waves and sand.

The most impressive feature, however, is the 37 metre statue of Lord Shiva which overlooks the beach ”“ its figure standing defiantly against the horizon. The deity is considered invincible and transcends all life and death, he is found neither born nor dead and is responsible for all things ending.

Creation and death are invariably linked, neither can exist without the other and because all things begin all things must also end. In many cultures we fear death ”“ an honest appraisal of mortality can be found in Larkin’s poem  Aubade, which described it as “an anaesthetic from which none come round”. But for many religions, the idea of death is celebrated and revered.

Every morning the people of Bhatal Tulak and those whose house faces Murdeshwar see the looming silhouette of Shiva in the distance, a constant reminder their lives will end. This could be viewed rather morbidly, but visitors to the temple are instead struck with awe, particularly as they take the elevator in the gopura 18 floors up to get a bird’s eye view of the statue.

Rebirth is a commonly held belief among religious thinkers in India, not just with reincarnation but they embrace the very idea of reconstitution. Pat once said the great thing about sport is that it tears people down, pummels them into submission and then rebuilds them into something better than they were. Many people, including new members of his crew, see Pat struggle and collapse at the end of the day. Their first reaction is of course concern, the human body was never meant to be pushed this hard.

But then Pat gets up and does it again before collapsing. Then he gets up again and again, everyday become stronger and better than he was. His body acclimatises to the weather conditions; his gait becomes steadier and is able to expend energy more efficiently; the road feels more comfortable and he’s able to push himself a little bit further.






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