Early Tuesday morning, Australia’s marathon running legend and former MP Pat Farmer started his ‘Spirit of India Run’ at Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.
Kanyakumari, formerly known as Cape Comorin, is the southernmost point of mainland India where the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet.
The start of the run on 26 January 2016 is a significant date for both countries, marking Australia Day and India’s Republic Day.
Pat Farmer’s epic run along the length of India – from south to north through 10 states – will see him cover over 4,600km in 60 days.
Australian Consul-General to South India Sean Kelly said Mr Farmer’s run from south to north through 10 states was another remarkable chapter in the growing Australia- India friendship.
“This breathtaking journey will further strengthen the relationship between India and Australia,” he said.
“I’m delighted that this run by an Australian known for his endurance abilities will commence from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.”
From Kanyakumari, Mr Farmer will run along the west coast of India passing through Kochi and Kasargod in Kerala and then through Karwar in coastal Karnataka before moving on to Goa and Maharashtra.
Mr Farmer’s aim is to promote goodwill, friendship and trade between Australia and India.
“I am very excited to be running the length of India, never before have I run in a country with such diversity and steeped in such cultural significance,” he said. “I am sure that this will prove to be the most incredible run that I have ever done.”
Mr Farmer will raise funds for girls’ education in India through Mahindra’s Nanhi Kali initiative.
“Young girls grow up to be the mothers of the next generation. They are the first educators to their children and I believe every girl should have access to basic literacy skills as education is the way to change their world and ours.”
A film crew travelling with Mr Farmer will record the entire journey for a film about his marathon undertaking.
“This will allow us to share the culture and diversity of India with Australians and the rest of the world,” Mr Kelly said.
The Adani Group, which is sponsoring the run, said it was proud to partner with Mr Farmer to support girls’ education.
“The Adani Group is committed to improve the quality of education through its programs for free education and other initiatives to improve the girl child enrolment ratio,” said Captain Sandeep Mehta, CEO of Adani Ports, Australia.
“With Pat and Adani showcasing India’s diversity, we endeavour to bring both countries closer culturally.”
Mahindra & Mahindra Executive Director Dr Pawan Goenka congratulated Pat Farmer on the start of his run.
“The Mahindra Group is delighted to support Mr. Pat Farmer in his pioneering run across India with our Ssangyong Rexton and Mahindra Scorpio vehicles. Both embody the values of this Spirit of India run, including toughness and durability. We wish him the very best on this incredible adventure.”
The former MP, who was Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Science and Training from 2004 to 2007, ran from the North to the South Pole in 2011-12 and raised more than A$100,000 for Red Cross International’s clean water programs.
In 2014, he ran more than 1300km in two weeks through the Middle East to raise money and awareness for peace initiatives in the region.