Aussie ultra marathon runner Pat Farmer minced no words to appreciate the beauty of Kashmir after culminating his 4600 kilometres ‘Spirit of India Run’ in Srinagar today. The 53-year-old former Australian Member of Parliament who started his marathon from Kanyakumari on August 26 completed his 64 days marathon on March 29 after taking his last running steps at historic Mugal Garden Nishat at 11 am today.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Lone, Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood A Shah besides other officers from tourism department, travel trade and hospitality sectors received him at Nishat Garden where he along with his team were felicitated.
“The Spirit of India Run is my way of making a difference. I feel elated to have finished this marathon at this Garden. This is historic day for me to have finished it in Kashmir. I had never imaged Kashmir would be this much beautiful,” Farmer said. He said he would promote Kashmir for tourism on his social networking sites including twitter and his personal website.
“I have already given interviews to international media especially from Australia where I talked about Kashmir’s beauty. Kashmir is very beautiful. I would definitely promote it among Australians and in other countries,” said Farmer.
Farmer said the purpose of the run was three-fold which include strengthening the relations between Australia and India, to raise funds for disadvantaged girls in India through the Nanhi Kali Foundation and to inspire people, both in India and Australia, to follow their own dreams and make a difference as individuals.
The distance runner and former Australian Member of Parliament enjoyed support from the state government especially the J&K Tourism Department. Pat reached Kashmir on March 28 and he was given rousing reception at Banihal Tunnel.
The team of ‘Spirit of India’ Run was accorded a warm reception at Jawahar Tunnel at 7 am yesterday by Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, Muneer Ul Islam, Director Tourism Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, SDM Dooru and Bollywood Actor, Imran Khan, besides prominent citizens of the area, media persons and officials of Tourism department.
Today, Pat ran from Awantipura at 4 am and reached Nishat Garden at around 11 am.
Speaking on the occasion, Director Tourism Kashmir Mamhood A Shah said it was a historica moment for Kashmir that world renowned marathon runner completed his Sprit of India Run in Srinagar. He said his last leg of marathon to Kashmir would promote this Valley not only in India but in Australia and other countries.
“These steps would help generate awareness about Kashmir’s beauty and hospitable people,” said Shah.
The Director Tourism said the Valley is blessed with all tourism products and these programs would help us promote all the products.
Deputy Director General Union Ministry of Tourism Arun Srivastav who is also part of the Spirit of India Run team said the centre was giving special focus on J&K state to promote it as the best tourism destination.
He said a documentary on Spirit of India Run would be screened at many platforms where Kashmir’s beauty would also be showcased.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Lone said this marathon would showcase Kashmir throughout the world which would promote Valley as a tourism destination.
Deputy Director Kashmir (Publicity) Peerzada Zahoor, Deputy Director Registration M Shafi Kakroo, Deputy Director Recreation Ghulam Jeelani besides other tourism officials, travel trade and hospitality sector members were present on the occasion.