Pat Farmer arrived home today after becoming the first person to run from the North Pole to the South Pole.
Thursday February 23, 2012
Pat Farmer is greeted by his children Brooke and Dillon.
Australian Pat Farmer, who arrived home today after becoming the first person to run from the North Pole to the South Pole, says he's a different person to the one who set out on that epic journey back in April.
'I was dropped off by Russian helicopter on the 6th April in the North Pole. You could just imagine how I felt when that helicopter left … thinking to myself that all the things I told people I was going to do, now I have to do … I stood at one end of the earth and I gazed down at the other and by simply putting one foot in front of the other I achieved this enormous goal.'
Pat's superhuman effort was about much more than breaking records or personal glory.
His purpose was to raise awareness and money for Red Cross water and sanitation programs around the world, a cause about which he is extremely passionate.
Unsafe water and poor sanitation have claimed more lives worldwide over the past century than any other cause; and some four million people die each year from diseases associated with the lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
Pat Farmer completed his 20,919km fundraising pole to pole trek last Sunday (19 February at approximately 10am local Argentinian time - 12midnght, 20 February AEST).
Today, after seeing his two children, Brooke (17) and Dillon (14), he said the thing he was looking forward to most was a meat pie. "I was asked by many people what did I miss most about Australia and I have to say a meat pie, I absolutely craved a meat pie.'
Every day of the last ten and a half months had been difficult, he said. 'I felt broken and beaten so many times … Every day I felt terrible, I had aches and pains in my legs, I had blisters, I had bruises. Luckily I had a great regime where I looked after my body in the evenings … I went through 22 pairs of running shoes, one pair of snow shoes, two pairs of boots.
'(But) I can't help but feel I am better person as result of what we have been able to achieve over this run; there's something about doing distance, something about fighting the elements … there's something special about doing something for another person, hurting yourself to be able to improve their quality of life.'
The whole run was done on a shoestring budget, said Pat. 'Because the focus was on the International Red Cross, and it was about raising funds. We have raised money in Canada, in the USA, and we raised money in each of the countries we passed through. We are continuing to raise money and will do for the course of this year, and who knows how much longer beyond that.
'The purpose of this journey was not about Pat Farmer, it was not about setting records … it was about trying to bring home a very strong message, and that was the message of humanity.'
Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner told the press conference, to rousing applause, that Pat had got one thing wrong. 'You said something that was wrong, dead wrong; you said 'I'm not special'. You are a legend.'
Pat has cemented his place in the history books, he said afterwards. 'He's successfully done what no one has ever done before in running from the North to the South Pole, and he's gone a huge way towards changing the lives of people in Timor-Leste. Pat has truly done us proud.
'It's not too late to get behind Pat. You can still show your support for his incredible feat by donating to the cause so dear to his heart.' Donations can be made here.
Pat's run took him through Canada, the United States, Central America and South America to Antarctica. He has passed through 14 countries has clocked up an average of 80km a day, the equivalent of two marathons, with no days off. He has suffered dehydration, stress injuries and unimaginable pain, battling through the extreme cold of the Arctic, the dangerous jungles of the Darien Gap, and the heat of the deserts of Peru.
Funds raised by Pat have already been used to fund a project in Timor-Leste connecting a school and a clinic on the outskirts of the town of Com to the settlement's clean water supply. The money will also be used to build extra latrines at the school and fund hygiene education for the students and teachers.
The local village chief says the new infrastructure will make a huge difference to the health of the people in Com.
'Chronic water and sanitation problems are one of the greatest issues facing the world today. Unsafe water and poor sanitation have claimed more lives worldwide over the past century than any other cause - more than war, more than malnutrition, more than natural disasters,' Mr Tickner said.
For everyone, no matter where they live on this planet, water means life and wherever there is a lack of clean water and sanitation then disease, death and economic hardship take over.
For media inquiries or more information contact Kim Batchelor on 0457 542 113 or email. Images are available of Pat's arrival back in Sydney and of the press conference, as well as from his run