Eat the Globe sat down to have a chat with Pat Farmer, an ultra marathon athlete who has run from the North to the South Pole in one go! Pat has also served as a Member of Parliament in Australia. Pat is a man on a mission - he has raised millions of dollars for charity, and has made it his life mission to help humanity. His running adventures around the world has lead him to experience many interesting foods and cultures.
I was inspired by Cliff Young, a runner who won the Sydney to Melbourne Ultra marathon when he was 61. At the time, I was a motor mechanic and my boss told me the runners were running past the shop for this Sydney to Melbourne run, and he asked me to come and watch it for a bit. I was amazed that they were going to be running such a long distance, and never really thought it was something I could do. Then, towards the end of the running pack, an older guy runs past, and I started thinking, if this old man can run so far... maybe I can too? In the end, this older man, Cliff Young, ended up winning the race. This spurred me on and motivated me to look into running for the next race and that's how it all started. So, I was motivated to start because I saw Cliff Young run past me that day, many years ago.
Running certainly didn't come naturally for me, it's been a lot of hard work and dedication, and lots of trial and error.
I knew that running was going to hurt, and be a lot of hard work, so I really needed to find a bigger purpose beyond myself - I needed a good reason to persist.
I found my motivation by supporting causes that I care about, and I've managed to raise over 3 million dollars for charity since I started running. When you have a bigger purpose, it makes all the pain and hard work worth it.
My most memorable experience was the campaign we did for the East Timorese community. When I visited the local community, I was saddened by the poor sanitary conditions, and the lack of clean drinking water. Water was so scarce that in the local hospital, if you were bringing in a patient, you also had to bring a bucket of water, as the hospital had no water to service the patients. To help this community, I raised funds for the Red Cross, who then set up wells and a water supply for this local community, and I have seen with my own eyes that we have been able to make a fundamental difference to their daily lives, which makes me very happy.
On the horizon, I am looking to support Love Mercy, a charity based in Uganda, who supports women with micro loans and seeds. I am also looking to support Saint Francis in Egypt, who help communities who live in poverty in the desert. To break the cycle of poverty, they are teaching mums to read and write, and they are providing food and clothing for the community.
I have run in all the continents...as far as countries, I have run in around 30 countries so far. In 2017, I am looking to run in UAE, Cuba and the Philippines.
I am an optimist at heart, and I believe if you can change one person's life, then it's all worthwhile, as every single life is important.
When I ran through Lebanon, I was treated so kindly by the locals but a lot of the locals cautioned me to not go to Jordan and Israel, as they feared it was not safe. When I got to Israel, I heard the same story the other way around ("don't go to Lebanon, it's dangerous").
However, I was later approached by an Israeli lady who ran with me - she saw my run covered on TV, and she noticed that as I was interacting with the Arabs on my run, that they seemed very friendly (but she's always been told that Arabs are the "enemy"). As a result, she decided to visit a local Arab town for the first time in her life, and she found they were actually very friendly and nice. So, as a result of my run, her judgment of the Arabic community has changed, and she has decided to go to the Arab towns on a regular basis and also to bring her daughter, so she can help break down the tension and bring more harmony to her community, and inspire the next generation to do the same. This is just one example. I also had many other locals who joined me on my run too, as I ran through the local towns.
The peace run was all about giving hope to the people, and letting them know that there are other people on the other side of the world that care enough to do something about the situation. So, in that respect, I am very glad I did it, as I could see the positive impact it made for the local people. I think in order to achieve world peace, it's all about educating and inspiring the people.
At the time, I was a member of parliament, and I was sitting in my office in Canberra (Australia), thinking "what next?". I was thinking I wanted to do something big, something no one had done before. So, I started researching, and realised that no one had run from the North Pole to the South Pole. When I told people I was going to do it, a lot of people said it wasn't possible and that I couldn't do that. That, ironically, gave me more motivation to give it a go.
After lots of hard work and preparation, I remembered being dropped off in the North Pole, and then thinking, what have I got myself into and will I survive? Then all I could think of was I need to get myself out of this fridge. (It's minus 40 degrees in the North Pole) - it took me 39 days of running before I got out of the North Pole!
I started off experiencing "Frozen Hell" (ie. North Pole) to feeling like I was "reborn" when I reached the end of the run.
To read more about Pat's incredible Pole to Pole run, check out his book below:
I was in Shandong province in China in the 90's doing a run, and I remember a few quirky things we tried. First of all, my son asked me to buy some ice cream for him, and it ended up being chickpea ice cream, which he wasn't very fond of, but an interesting experience nonetheless.
I was also offered deep-fried scorpion, which sort of tasted like deep fried prawn shells. We also ate soft shell tortoise, which was a bit of a spectacle, as it was brought out with the shell on the plate. It tasted ok, but my poor son was a bit distressed as he really likes tortoises...it certainly was an eye opener for my little boy.
I have an Italian and Irish background, so I do love my Italian food, it's my comfort food. I also love a good Apricot Chicken.
I am in talks with the Philippines government to potentially do a run there, to help highlight it as a tourist destination, and hence help boost the economy for the local communities there. I also have plans to do a UAE run, and run through the 7 emirates (7 kingdoms). I also plan to run the length of Cuba this year too.
My runs are all about increasing awareness and understanding of other countries. So, it's going to be a lot of running this year, and I'm looking forward to it.
Pat Farmer (Ultra-marathon athlete / Motivational speaker)
Province/State: New South Wales
Zip/Post Code: N/A
Location Tips: N/A
N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc