By running an average of 50 km a day for 76 days across deserts and mountains in India, Australian athlete Samantha Gash has finished a 12-week challenge to raise funds for children’s education. The 31-year-old ultramarathon runner from Melbourne had started her journey from Jaisalmer in Rajasthan on August 22 and finished on November 5 in Shillong, capital of the northeastern state of Meghalaya, after running for 3,800 km across diverse terrain. “It was like running across several countries as the culture, geography and climate is so diverse. It was an incredible experience and an eye-opener,” Gash said over the phone.
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During the journey she ran a campaign for NGO World Vision India’s projects tackling barriers to quality education. In the first two weeks of the expedition she had a physiotherapist to take care of her health, while during the remaining ten weeks all she had was a small team to take care of the logistics.
Although she ran alone on the roads, groups of people in Australia joined her virtually by running for short distances in their home cities to express support for the cause.
“I used to wake up everyday around 4 AM and within 45 minutes I was on the roads. After a short warm-up session of walking I use to run about 50-60 km a day,” said the athlete, who uses sports as a tool for activism.
In her free time, she had meetings with different communities which are facing tough times in educating their children. The former lawyer-turned-endurance athlete has made a name for herself as an international ultramarathon runner. The experience has not only improved her understanding of issues at the grassroots level but also inspired her to write a book about the diversity of India.
Gash says that she found travelling to be safe in most parts. “There were a couple of instances where risks could have been involved, but it was pretty safe for me,” Gash said.
Besides raising funds, the Aussie athlete also hopes that all those men, women and children who saw her running for a cause will get inspired. “I hope I am able to inspire others because individuals have the power of change,” she said.
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