Legendary ultra marathon runner Pat Farmer has embarked on a 20-day run, with his aim being to increase awareness and promote tolerance in the region.
Farmer, 52, who has previously run from the north pole to the south pole, will run for 20 days and pass through Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, all for the sake of peace in the Middle East. Having landed in Beirut, which will see him kick-off the Middle east Peace Marathon, the run will be supported by a broad scope advertising campaign and daily reports to the various media networks.
He will run through four countries with runners from various countries, nationalities, religions and communities. The 1,500 km route will commence in Beirut, pass through Jordan, Israel and the West Bank and end in the holy city of Jerusalem.
Dubbed “The Middle East Run for Peace”, the run is set to begin in Lebanon, continue to Jordan, from there to Israel and through the Palestinian Authority areas. He will arrive in Jordan, and will then run from Amman through Petra to Akaba. From Akaba, he will cross the border to Eilat on 9 May, then stop off at Kibbutz Neot Smadar the following day and Mitzpeh Ramon the day after. He then takes in Be’er Sheva on 12 May, Sderot on 13, with the leg between Sderot-Rishon Lezion run on 14 May. The next day takes him from Rishon Lezion to Jissar al Zarka on the Mediterranean coast, and then Pardess Chana to Tivon.
The next route planned on 17 May is between Gan Shmuel to Nablus on the West Bank, with the following day seeing him running from Nablus through Rowabi and Ramallah. The final day, 19 May, sees him runfrom Ramallah through Bethlehem, before crossing the finishing line in Jerusalem where he will be greeted by a festive ceremony that will be held in his honor.
The objective of the marathon is to encourage and reinforce all those aspiring to peace in the Middle East, by showcasing the efforts of one man to overcome all the prevailing obstacles, linking sports teams to an historic event in the Middle East, encouraging the positive values of sports, empowering children and teaching values of inclusion, tolerance, responsibility and non violence, exhibiting the magnificent and special vistas of tourist attractions in Israel and the local population. A film crew will accompany Farmer and produce a documentary of his endeavor. In addition, daily live reports will be broadcast through the various media channels that will accompany the run.
Farmer hopes to raise awareness and promote tolerance through the medium of the Middle East Run for Peace.
He said: “I decided that I want to present the positive facet of these places. When I see some a news item about the Middle East, including Israel, it always involves violence, problems and difficulties suffered by all in the region, which is in direct contrast to what I hear from friends who live in the Middle East.
“There is a common denominator linking all people all over the globe” he adds “and that is why I think that if I am able to mirror it, then I can disseminate a message to everyone on the face of Earth: We are all human, we are identical, without any relation to our geographic roots.
“I am thrilled to do the implausible, even if it contributes but one iota to promoting the peace process in the Middle East.”
Farmer, a father of two, served as a Minister in the Australian Parliament, where he raised three million dollars by running marathons benefiting childhood diabetes. In 1999, he ran 15,000 km. across Australia, which took 191 days and in 2000 won the Australian Prize. In 2004, he served as the Secretary of the Australian Parliament and as the Minister of Sport.
The official launch of the Middle East Run for Peace was held on 23 April and was attended by the Australian Prime Minister, who gave his blessing . The project was initiated by Danny Hakim, the proprietor of “Budo for Peace”, an educational Israeli organisation established by Danny Hakim 10 years ago, expounding values of traditional marshal arts and teaching children the values of peace.