India runs with Pat Farmer

Pic 1 - Pat Farmer Kerala s - Kevin Nguyen











By Neena Badhwar

Patrick Farmer, Australia’s Ultra Marathon runner, is in India running a daunting journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir covering 4,600 km in about 60 days.

We remember the famous 250km ”˜Dandi March’ by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 to protest against the British rule by breaking the law through making salt. It had left a strong impact on the country as Gandhiji walked from village to village with people following him and welcoming him wherever he went.

Since then many more marches have come and gone, but the ”˜Salt March’ in pre-Independence India sent shivers through the British. Non-cooperation movement of Gandhi ji woke up India to liberate itself from the clutches of foreign rule.

The ongoing, much publicised marathon run is by Pat Farmer, known for his ”˜Pole to Pole’ 20,000 km run when he collected for Red Cross close to a hundred million dollars. This Spirit of India run has Pat supporting ”˜Nanhi Kali ”“ Education of girl child’ program.

Pat has completed by now more than half the journey having crossed Kerala, Mysore, Maharashtra, Gujarat and now moving towards Rajasthan even as summer sets in. According to Pat, “It is an arduous journey. I try taking just one step at a time”¦” People are amazed at his stamina, will power, and inner strength as he passes through some of the hottest states, dusty roads, never ever stopping. He says, “I am a prisoner of my journey” when he does not have the time or luxury to stop to see the beautiful buildings, heritage sites and temples he passes by. But he promises, “Next time I will visit India to see all the beautiful places that I have passed.”

Pic 3 - Pat Farmer Maharashtra

He does have time for the smiling crowds who welcome him, plonk a turban on his head or a tilak on his forehead or a garland around his neck. His tired face lights up at the sight of people, school kids, mothers with children touching his feet in reverence as if Pat has turned into something of an itinerant sadhu for the simple village folks passing through their towns.

He wants to bring a change, and an awareness about the education of girls in India. “Educate a girl, you educate a mother who will then go on and educate the whole family,” is Pat’s message to bring about that change.

At times he has felt dehydrated, hurt a tendon in his ankle, and is tired after running 80 km each day which are equal to two marathon runs a day to reach his destination, Kashmir. There is a whole contingent in toe with an ambulance, a film crew, photographer, a doctor and the officers of the Indian tourism who follow him, run along with him, even when he insists to be left alone. As Pat passes various towns he stops at schools, gives inspiring messages to the students who wave flags of both India and Australia. At times he is welcomed by thundering drums, dances and people dressed in regional costumes.

In a very short span of less than a month Pat Farmer has become a hero with channels and radio and print covering his marathon extensively. At times he is looking at himself on those big billboards erected to welcome him whenever he enters a new state.

Pic 2 - Pat Farmer - Mumbai - take big

Says he humbly, “I who is a mechanic from Sydney’s west is able to meet so many important people, am really blessed.”

He asks everyone to donate for the cause he is trying to fundraise from this marathon. He asks all in Australia to donate to ”˜Nanhi Kali’ foundation by visiting his blog:

Sydney community’s recent valentine cruise collected proceeds to donate to Nanhi Kali. This is your opportunity to donate, fundraise on behalf of Pat Farmer who as we sit here in the comfortable confines of our homes, must remember someone is running over there in the heat, dust and crowded roads of India. And for a good cause.

Come on! We should donate generously and encourage and cheer Pat all the way to Kashmir.

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