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Day 1: The first step

Kanyakumari to Poovar, 67km

Today was the official launch of the Spirit of India Run. It was also Australia Day and India Republic Day. Thousands of people gathered in Kanyakumari – the southern tip of India, where the three seas met and the sacred site where Gandhi’s ashes were kept – to see Pat Farmer off.

Pat received a call from the Governor General Peter Cosgrove before the run. Mr Cosgrove told him he was a wonderful asset to both countries and asked him to carry on the spirit and nobility of Australia with him over the next 66 days.

At the start of the run, hundreds of people formed an entourage with Pat, including the Deputy Commissioner of Australian to India, Chris Elstoft. Many of the runners were children and they followed him until the border of Tamil Nadu into Kerala. Pat met with school children at the border and continued on until we reached the Estuary Island Resort in Poovar.

The humidity was unexpected and took a lot out of Pat. Later in his room the Race Doctor, Joseph Grace and the crew manager, Katie Walsh, examined him and readjusted his hydration schedule to cope with the extreme conditions. We laid him in a bed of ice – “like a prawn,” as one of our crew put it – and despite the strenuous circumstances, wrote the day off as a success.

Hotel: Our first hotel for this journey was at a luxury beach resort called Estuary Island, which currently has a rating of 4 stars on Tripadvisor. It was truly world class with exceptional service and rooms. We met a British family who say they've been staying there for months - apparently the cost of accommodation was so cheap, they felt it unnecessary to ever leave.

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