Epic Christmas Day run for farmers

Harjinder Singh Chander training for an earlier undertaking, running the Queenstown marathon in...
Harjinder Singh Chander training for an earlier undertaking, running the Queenstown marathon in overalls and gumboots. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
As most people start chowing down on Christmas ham, seasonal vegetables, plum duff and some pav, Harjinder Singh Chander will be about halfway through his latest marathon.

The Henley dairy farmer is running around Dunedin’s Octagon for 24 hours on Christmas Day, to celebrate the success of Indian farmers who have been protesting against a new farming law for the past year.

Indian farmers have been fighting Section 13 of the Indian Government’s Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020 because they believed it would gut the country’s Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees.

Mr Chander said the long-distance run was also to raise funds and awareness of mental health issues — particularly among farmers, who were not very good at talking about their mental health.

He showed his support by running and walking, because they were great ways to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and lower blood pressure.

"Mental illness is a serious issue in New Zealand and is often ignored," he said.

"There are almost 500 deaths a year in New Zealand due to suicide and this number is not decreasing. In the world, someone dies as a result of suicide every 40 seconds.

"It has been found that approximately a third of Kiwis will suffer with mental distress in their lifetime.

"This is not an issue we should be ignoring, but it is something we should take action upon and try to make a difference."

Mr Chander’s latest effort comes at the end of a busy running year for the 30-year-old.

In August this year, he ran the 50km Naseby Water Race in gumboots, and in June he ran 139 circuits up and down Baldwin St in 28 hours and 25 minutes — the equivalent length of the route up Mt Everest — both in support of mental health.

He had previously run the Queenstown marathon in gumboots, he ran for 15 hours up and down Mt Cargill in gumboots and overalls, and he completed the 326km Alps2Ocean Ultra.

Mr Chander encouraged others to join him in the Octagon throughout the day.

He said he would be rejuvenating his energy levels during the run with snacks, and if he was lucky, there would be plenty of Christmas dinner leftovers for him to enjoy on Boxing Day.

 - john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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