By Ashok Kumar
Following the footsteps of Pat Farmer, it is now the turn of Samantha Gash, another Australian ultra-marathon runner from Melbourne to undertake an arduous challenge of running through difficult terrains of Rajasthan through to Shillong but with a cause. She will be raising funds for the World Vision engaged in helping the deprived children the world over.
The Indian Sub-continent Times had the opportunity to interview Samantha,31, over phone before she leaves for India on 16 August, 2016. Pat had traversed from South to North but Samantha has chosen from West to East i.e. Jaisalmer to Shillong . Samantha, a former Lawyer turned endurance athlete, made a name for herself as an international ultra-marathon runner. Her thirst for adventure, experience and thrill for life has allowed her to discover what she cares about the most – achieving social change through the vehicle of adventure and running.
Significance of the run is the celebration of World Vision‘s 50th anniversary and raise money for its charity projects. Starting from one of the driest deserts in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan and finishing at the picturesque Shillong, she will run for close to 4,000 Kms spread over 77 days.
The IST: So, why India?
Samantha: I have been to India in 2011 and ran for over 220 Kms then at a stretch in the Himalayas. India has got most diverse cultures and different languages that we don’t see in Australia and I love talking to people and mixing with different communities. I will be starting from Jaisalmer and going through Jaipur, Delhi, Puri and then Shillong.
The IST: Why did you choose West to East?
Samantha: I was told that South to North has been covered several times but West to East was still unexplored. It is the longest run that I have ever undertaken and preparation from training to logistic to fundraising has taken over two years with undertaking several trips to India. However, I know from experience that you can never plan for everything, especially with India’s formidable weather and landscapes.
The IST: Language/dialect changes every 50 Kms in India. Will communicating with local people be a problem, and will you be taking help of interpreters?
Samantha: I have interpreters in my team and also officials from the Wold Vision, India, who will help me in communicating with people.
The IST: How long will be your run and for how many days?
Samantha: My run will be about 4,000 Kms and spread over 77 days, running about 50 Kms every day. And, out of this I will keep 7 days for meeting people and visiting different communities along the way that are engaged with World Vision.
The IST: How did you plan your training/run?
Samantha: Although training is taking up most of my time and headspace, the reason that drives me is the ‘why’. Every time I train I visualise myself in India and I know that any discomfort I could possibly experience will pale in comparison to many of the situations I will see.
The IST: Wish you good luck for the run and hope to listen to your stories on your return. Thank you very much for your time.
Samantha: Thanks and its been lovely talking to you