Australian ultramarathon runner Samantha Gash has started her gruelling 3,800 km record run across India, in a bid to raise money for World Vision projects tackling barriers to quality education in India.
Starting yesterday at one of the driest deserts on earth, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, she will pass through the foot of the Himalayas and end in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. Running, on average, the equivalent of just over a marathon a day, Samantha will take 77 days to run West to East across India, being the first person to run the route.
During her run, she will also be visiting the World Vision projects that she is fundraising for. She has already raised over $76,000 and is calling on Australians to join her by taking part in the Run India 12 Week Challenge, whilst following her virtually as she runs across the seventh largest country in the world.
“This is the biggest challenge I’ve ever undertaken, but when you consider the challenges many children face on a daily basis, this is not comparable,” Ms Gash said.
“Through Run India, we are aiming to raise funds to support six World Vision Area Development Projects that focus on education. These are in Jaipur, Barmer, Kanpur, North-West Delhi, Hardoi and Pauri.
“This project will showcase the human stories and practical realities that are faced in these communities and demonstrate World Vision’s approach to sustainable development, which is about providing a hand up, rather than a hand out.”
World Vision CEO Tim Costello said Samantha is an inspiration:
“Samantha’s passion for shining a light on some of the world’s most vulnerable children by undertaking this huge challenge is formidable and impressive,” Tim Costello said.
“Samantha’s goal to run 3,800km across India may seem too big, too ambitious, but similar to our goal of ending child poverty, no target is too difficult to achieve when we have determination, passion and work together.”
The World Vision projects that Samantha is supporting tackle issues such as malnutrition, access to appropriate water and sanitation, underage marriage and gender bias, which all present major obstacles to quality education for young women and men in India.
In India today, 4 per cent of children never start school, 58 per cent don’t complete primary school, and 90 per cent fail to finish high school. Combined with the fact that 67.7 million India youths are living on less than one dollar a day, the barriers to accessing education are highly complex.
World Vision’s 12 Week Challenge invites runners and walkers from all ages to form teams of up to 10 people to track their distances against Samantha’s run and fundraise. To donate directly to Run India or join the 12 Week Challenge visit www.runindia.org.au.
Follow Samantha’s journey and join the conversation via #RunIndia, Twitter @WorldVisionAus and Facebook www.facebook.com/WorldVisionAustralia.