Review Blog

May 24 2012

Pole to pole: One man, 20 million steps by Pat Farmer

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2012. ISBN 9781742377841.
Pole to pole is Pat Farmer's diary of his 21,000 km run from the North Pole to the South Pole, which he successfully completed between April 5, 2011 and February 19, 2012. Before this adventure he was already a highly experienced ultra marathon runner - an extreme athlete who had been running all his life - and he was looking for the next challenge.
Pat Farmer was a Federal politician for almost a decade, but tired of endless meetings talking about ways to improve the world. He wanted to make a practical difference. At the time of this extraordinary undertaking he is 49 years old and the devoted single father of Brooke and Dillon since the death of his wife in 1998. He is buoyed by running with his children on some sectors of the journey and he communicates well his heart-warming relationship with them.
Pat details the complex team effort required to stage such a run including the preparation, the lengthy training in extreme conditions and the promotion required for fund-raising. One integral goal of his run was to raise money for the Red Cross' clean water and disaster relief campaigns.
There are many joys and charming descriptions of the multitude of people met along the way in North and South America. There is also a lot of pain. Each day he fights his way through pain and one of the hardest tasks each day is getting out of his sleeping bag!
This is a paperback book of 313 pages with many colour and black and white photos accompanied by Pat's quirky comments. There is a Contents page, which divides the run into 6 stages. There is no Index, which is fine, because the book needs to be read as an adventure rather than as an information book.
This book has been written for an adult audience, but it is suitable for Biography/Autobiography studies in Years 11-12. The diary format and information boxes eg Pat's blister fixer, How to tell a classy hotel, and Nazca Lines, make the book easy to tackle and thus suitable for a young adult audience.
M. E. Strickland

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