ST. PETER’S: The students and staff of East Richmond Education Centre were told what it takes to achieve the near-impossible as Brad Farquhar, a man who’s accomplished many things that seemed near-impossible, visited the Richmond County school.
“Anyone know what the Idiorrod is?” Farquhar asked an assembly of youth last Friday morning.
Farquhar got varying responses from the students, but it’s a safe bet the children left the auditorium knowing a great deal about the Alaskan dog sled race reaching from Anchorage to Nome. Farquhar is an authority on the matter.
The race lasts between eight and 15 days, and it features mushers leading a team of 16 dogs through blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. Depending on conditions, the route can change from year-to-year. However, the length is generally considered to be 1,688 kilometers.
It’s a race Farquhar completed last March. And that’s just his latest adventure.
“My story starts just like yours does,” Farquhar told the kids. “I grew up over on the mainland not too far away from here. I graduated school, went to St. Mary’s university, and from there, I got recruited to work in California. I had a business partner who, one day, asked if I wanted to run a marathon.”
Four days later, he was running the 42 kilometer race. Interestingly, neither Farquhar nor his friend were regular runners and, although the race started well, the final few kilometers proved to be brutal.
“I had a choice,” he said. “I could choose to sit down on the curb and give up, or I could choose to push through that pain and misery. I kept going, and eventually I could see the finish line in the distance.”
After that, Farquhar stepped up his game by visiting the Sahara Desert in Morocco for the Marathon des Sables, an ultramarathon that generally takes six-days to complete. Just after that, he found himself in Alaska to challenge himself by climbing Denali, the tallest mountain (20,310 feet) in North America. He also swam the English Canal.
“The reason I’m sharing these stories with you today is not to say that I’m different from you,” he said. “I’m exactly the same as every one of you, but one thing that was instilled in me at a young age is that, when somebody tells you that you have a crazy or silly or funny idea, maybe it’s not so crazy or silly or funny.”
The Idiorrod, he said, was the most difficult of all his adventures. To give the kids an inside view of what the race was like, he brought a video featuring footage of his time in manning the dogsled.
Hard work and determination can do amazing things, Farquhar said. Indeed, the things that might at first seem impossible can be achieved, he said, if someone sets their mind to the task. With that, he added having a support team in place always makes the journey easier.
“Accomplishing something like this is not possible without the support of your friends and family and loved ones,” he said, adding that sometimes loved ones can have four legs.
“When I was on the trail, two of the dogs decided they weren’t going to lead anymore. A leader is so important on a dogsled team – they decide if you’re going to run, how fast you’re going to run, and when two decided they weren’t going to lead, I was left with one leader, Jerry.
“He’s not the fastest dog, the strongest or the smartest, but when I needed him to step-up, I didn’t have to ask twice.”
Jerry was taken out to visit with the kids, and his appearance was very well received. Farquhar mentioned work ethic isn’t the only trait in which Jerry leads the pack.
“He also has the best smile,” Farquhar said.