Trail Chat #16 with Pat Farmer


RECAP: Trail Chat #16 with Pat Farmer

On Wednesday evening, before the Tillies took to the pitch, we caught up with Pat Farmer AM from Foster, NSW  where he’d just wrapped up his ~5th speaking engagement for the day.  Pat is approximately 115 days (who’s counting?!) into a 6-month journey around Australia, running 14,000 kilometres to raise awareness for the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament.

Although incredibly impressive and hard to fathom, this feat is not the most significant undertaking of Pat’s illustrious ultra-running career.  This is in fact the second time he’s run around Australia – he did in 1999 to celebrate the Centenary of Federation.  Pat’s longest effort was from the North Pole to the South Pole, which took him across continents, ice shelves, and through jungles, covering a staggering 23,300 kilometres in 2012.

Due to Pat’s busy schedule and the looming semi-final kick-off, we kept this Trail Chat short and sweet, and focused on Pat’s incredible and decades-long career in the sport.  Although he prefers to be likened to Tom Cruise, Pat is today the same age as Cliffy Young was when he ran (and won) his first Sydney to Melbourne in 1983.  When asked what his key motivator was, Pat replied ‘I’ve run all over the world, and I’ve done this because Cliff Young inspired me.’

Cliffy Young during the Westfield Run, which went from Parramatta to Doncaster, covering 1050km. Source: Getty Images

Pat was 18 when he ran alongside Cliffy in 1983, and ~40 years on, he is still taking on huge adventures, such as Run for the Voice.  I asked Pat what spurred him to pull on the runners one more time when he’s in what some would consider the twilight years of his running career.  Of this, Pat said,

“I think that as you get older, you realise that you only have a certain amount of time on this planet, and it’s significant that you make your life count for something.  Raising money for all of those causes was great,  and supporting those causes, and maybe even saving some lives through all of that was fantastic and very noble.  But, those causes will always be there, those needs will always be there.  But with this particular run, a change in our constitution to support the First Nations people of this country will give them an opportunity to be able to change their lives forever.  To be able to significantly shape their own destinies and for generational change to occur.  Year after year after year, generation after generation, to improve and to be better.  And that’s why this is such a significant time in history and that’s why I feel so strongly about this run.[Because] there are very few runs that you can do or very few things you can stand up for where you can actually make your mark in history, change the course of history for the better and support people long after you have gone.”

When asked about longevity, Pat explained that with age, comes experience.  After all that he’s put his body through, he can read the signs and understands the signals when it’s telling him something is wrong.  Yes, there is the general tiredness, weight loss, aches and pains – but as the formidable Cliffy Young once told Pat, ‘You can’t win unless you finish’.  Pat has never not finished an epic undertaking he’s started, which is a testament to his relaxed and patient attitude, and the authentic and personal reasons for running that motivate him.  

All of Pat’s runs are available to follow on Strava, and you can track his location live here. Pat would love for you to join him along the way for a yarn.  He may have already crossed Tasmania, WA, Northern Territory and Queensland, but he’s still got a long way to go to get to Uluru by mid-October.  To hear more about the conversations about the Voice Pat has had along the way, watch the Trail Chat recording here.

Published: 18th August 2023

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