Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on August 11, 2016
Pat Farmer was 18 when he knew he wanted to run.
Now a holder of several world records, he ended up running around Australia, through the Middle East, and in 2011, more than 20,000 kilometres from the North Pole to South Pole.
“It was, without a doubt, the most incredible feat of endurance I think anybody’s ever done,” he said about the trek, which took more than 10 months.
“I reflect on it now and I don’t even know how I did it myself. You’re in the moment, you plan these things for years, then you just get out there and give it your best shot.”
As a kid, he was inspired by Cliff Young, a potato farmer from Victoria.
Young, at 61, won what Farmer called the “toughest race on earth” – the Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon – in the 80s.
“The wonderful thing about that was it showed me that ordinary people could aspire to doing extraordinary things, not just the elite,” he said.
“Cliff will always be the factor behind all my fundraising and everything I’ve done.”
Farmer dedicated his running career to charity from the word go, and has since raised millions for several organisations and causes.
“For me, it’s not even so much about the running, but what I can use the running to do,” he said.
“It’s taking the emphasis on me setting records, running and racing, and putting it on the needy.”
Farmer said that no matter what field he is in, whether it be sport, business or politics, he is always driven by a love of helping others.
Farmer was elected the Liberal MP for Macarthur in 2001, and served in Parliament as the secretary for education, science and training. He says he is disappointed by Australia’s current political climate.
“I think in my days [they] were certainly more focused on public outcomes than their own personal interests,” he said.
“Today’s politicians need to focus on the community that they represent rather than themselves. At the end of the day, you can talk as much as you like, but you really need to hit the ground running and show people what you’re made of.”
Farmer said that if he wasn’t kicked out of the Macarthur seat by his party in 2009 for living out of the electorate, he would still be in politics.
This year, Farmer is training and running alongside the Cancer Council Gold Team – 25 runners doing The Sun-Herald City2Surf, presented by Westpac.
The team hopes to raise more than $165,000 for the charity, and Farmer said they were well on their way.
“As you can imagine, for me, the distance is much shorter than what I would normally compete in,” he said. “But it’s an opportunity to support other runners to realise their best.”
“You’ll see in the City2Surf, ordinary people from all age groups, and even people with a disability, will complete the distance. To me, that’s a gold medal performance and they are the inspiration for ordinary Australians.”
The Sun-Herald City2Surf will be held in Sydney on August 14.
Register online at: www.city2surf.com.au