Australian ultramarathon runner Samantha Gash, still has sore legs, but is walking tall after finishing her remarkable run across India.
Taking 76 days, Samantha, 32, ran close to 3,200km West to East over some of the most punishing terrain. She started from one of the driest deserts on earth, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, traversed the chilly foothills of the Himalayas and completed the epic run in Shillong, Meghalaya, last Saturday.
Battling dehydration, stomach illness, monsoonal weather, air quality and injury, she had only one goal to keep her going – raising awareness and funds for World Vision Australia projects tackling barriers to quality education; a cause extremely close to her heart.
“The focus of this project isn’t about running a large distance across India. For me, it’s been a chance to identify how individuals and the community can come together to overcome adversity. My constant source of motivation was having the perspective that no struggle I’ve faced in this run would come close to what many people in India experience on a daily basis,” said Samantha.
Samantha’s ‘Run India’ campaign has raised almost $150,000 for World Vision Australia projects tackling issues such as malnutrition, access to appropriate water and sanitation, underage marriage and gender bias in North-West Delhi, Kanpur, Jaipur, Barmer, Hardoi and Pauri. The money she has raised will assist more than 13,000 children to access educational opportunities in communities across India for one year.
“The community visits are some of the most powerful moments along this journey. I was inspired by the strength of the women I met in Pauri and Lucknow; women who rallied their community together to devise initiatives to support those in need and establish small businesses. I was also confronted by my visit to a malnutrition clinic in Alwar. There I met ill babies whose mothers dealt with life and death issues relating to food security, lack of education and resources. It has been powerful to see how the smallest things can help but empowering to realise how much more needs to be done,” added Samantha.
World Vision Chief Advocate Tim Costello said Samantha’s amazing run demonstrated the power of one and the ripple effect it has on many.
“Samantha began this epic journey with a deep desire to use her passion and talent to make a difference in the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Her completion of this awe-inspiring run across India is a reminder to us all of what can be achieved when we have determination and an open heart,” Tim Costello said.
“What began as one person’s dream has not only turned into a reality but has impacted the lives of many Australians at home; shed light on the issues of child poverty and education in India; and brought the stories of the ‘everyday heroes’ who battle adversity daily to our doorstep.”
Australians can still donate to Run India until January and the 12 Week Challenge teams until 13 November at www.runindia.org.au.
Follow Samantha’s return and join the conversation via #RunIndia, on Twitter @WorldVisionAus and Facebook www.facebook.com/WorldVisionAustralia.