Pat Farmer has finished his two-month ‘Spirit of India’ trek – running from the south to the north of the country to raise money for girls’ education.
Pat Farmer’s 64-day Indian odyssey is over – with Australia’s ultra-marathon great surviving a second-day hospitalisation and weather extremes to complete the 4416km trek.
Farmer ran 80-85km each day – equivalent to two marathons – for more than two months in travelling from the south to the north of the country to raise funds and awareness for disadvantaged girls’ education.
The 54-year-old captured the imagination on the way, often looking like a new-age Forrest Gump with up to 200 locals running with him at any time.
As well as making it a diplomatic mission meeting with government ministers and officials, Farmer was allowed access to India’s most revered iconic attractions and rituals – all of which will be shown in a film being made of the epic trek.
“I’m absolutely elated,” he told AAP on Tuesday after crossing the finish line to huge applause in Srinagar.
“It’s been a hell of a journey. Sometimes it’s been incredibly arduous and other times it’s been magnificent.
“I’ve seen things and done things here that you don’t get to do as a tourist, so I feel very blessed.”
Farmer completed his `Spirit of India’ run a day early after upping his pace to avoid rockslides and mudslides in the Kashmir mountains that threatened to cut roads into his Srinagar finish line.
“I was worried that they might postpone the finish for a week,” he said.
“I was absolutely desperate to make sure that didn’t happen.”
It could have, and possibly should have, been over on day two when the former federal MP was hospitalised and put on an IV drip after suffering from severe dehydration, heat exhaustion and muscle meltdown.
But Farmer was back on the road the next day and ran between 10-14 hours every day since, running past many vehicles – from buses to scooters to donkey-drawn carts – on the congested roads.
He lost 13kg in his first week for his weight to drop dangerously to 52kg but was at 59kg when he crossed the line on Tuesday afternoon.
“To do this sort of job in a country like this you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” he said.
“Most days I’ve been running with really severe stomach cramps. That sort of thing makes it really difficult to get the job done.”
Now Farmer says he’s most looking forward to a hot bath, a cold ale and the Maroubra sand.