An Australian ultra-marathon athlete who holds records for the fastest run around his own country and across its vast desert center yesterday launched a bid to run non-stop from the North to the South pole.
Pat Farmer, once dubbed Australia’s “Forrest Gump,” aims to raise US$100 million for Red Cross water and sanitation programs during his 21,000-km journey through 14 countries in the Americas.
“I believe I’m born with a gift,” Farmer, 48, told AFP.
“My gift is to be able to run long distances faster and perhaps further than any other person on Earth, so I figure I’d be a fool if I had this gift and didn’t use it.”
Though the trip has been some 10 years in the making, Farmer said it was a recent trip to southeast Asia that inspired him to dedicate it to the Red Cross.
“I saw children covered with needlestick injuries in a dump trying to break syringes down to sell the metal inside for bottles of water,” he said.
“It was a heartbreaking turning point for me.”
His 11-month voyage will take him from freezing tundra through the tropics, and Farmer expects to go through more than 40 pairs of shoes and 300 pairs of socks.
“This is by far the greatest challenge of my life,” he said, adding that he had been training “like a man possessed.”
“To be quite honest with you I don’t know if I can run from the North pole to the South pole,” said Farmer, who also served for a decade as an Australian government MP.
“But I do know that I can run for 80km, or 85km or 90km or 100km a day and I do know that I can get up the next morning and do the same thing the next day.
“I will take it one day at a time and I will achieve this enormous goal.”
Farmer’s run starts at the North pole in March and will continue through Canada, the US, Mexico and 10 South American countries before he arrives in Argentina to be airlifted to the final South Pole leg.(afp)