Forrest Gump eat your heart out, Australia has its own running daemon – he’s barefoot and he’s a man on a mission: to Stop Adani.
Ben Ferris, a.k.a. Ferris Gump, began his Barefoot Run from Lismore to Brisbane yesterday at the Lismore Organic Market.
Ben will be taking the opportunity during the run to raise funds for the Wangan and Jagalingou, Aboriginal custodians of the Galilee Basin where the Adani Mine is situated. The Wangan and Jagalingou have recently lost their court case against Adani.
The Wangan and Jagalingou spokesperson Adrian Burragubba, has been served with a bankruptcy notice for almost $640,000.
Ferris is a serial runner and has run from Byron to Noosa to raise money for drought relief and from Byron to the Whitsundays raising funds for the Seabin Project. The longest he has run in bare feet in the past is a 42km marathon.
Why barefoot? ‘I want to show how extreme this issue is for me, the farmers and the environment,’ said Ben at the end of his Lismore to Byron leg.
My pain will reflect the pain that the Adani mine will cause if it goes ahead
‘My pain will reflect the pain that the Adani mine will cause if it goes ahead. The pain is already evident in the many farmers who have taken their own lives. They have left their families behind, who will always carry this pain.
‘I am very concerned by the emotional worry and stress that our kids are facing about the climate changing. It will only get worse in the future if we don’t act now.
This gives me the motivation to push through the pain barrier, for our next generation.’
Ben started his run from the Lismore Organic Markets yesterday at 9.30 am and ran to Byron Bay arriving at 3.30pm. ‘From Lismore I ran a distance of 47kms in 5 hours and 50 minutes. My average pace was 7 minutes and 37 seconds per kilometre.’
Today Ben will leave Byron at about 9.30am after a press conference in the park near the Byron Surf Club from 8.30am. He will be stopping in Mullumbimby briefly on the way then onto Brunswick Heads where he will stay the night.
Ben said his feet were very painful and tender after the first day and he says he expects his feet will be very tender and sore today. ‘It’ll be twice as painful.’
My main concern is the effect that the Adani mine’s water use will have on farmers and the environment in the region
Ben says it’s worth it to highlight the issue. ‘I grew up on a farm at Kyogle and my main concern is the effect that the Adani mine’s water use will have on farmers and the environment in the region.
‘The Adani mine will take unlimited amounts of groundwater and 12.5 million litres of water each year from the Suttor River for 60 years.
‘I am affected by this directly as I have seen my father suffering from stress as he experienced the biggest drought ever this year. He didn’t have feed for his stock and I felt helpless.
‘This is my way to try and make a difference through my ability to run long distances and raise awareness for this serious issue.
‘I’m extremely concerned about coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef and the thousands of big ships transporting fossil fuels across the reef. This is killing the Reef and all of the marine life like turtles and dolphins along with millions of other species that depend on the reef. The next generation won’t see the Reef or experience it as we have, they will miss out on this. We all have to act now to stop this from happening.’
He will continue on Thursday via the Gold Coast to Brisbane, hopefully arriving in time for the Extinction Rebellion protest on August 6.
The distance from Lismore Showgrounds to Byron Bay, Mullumbimby, Brunswick Heads then Brisbane via the Gold Coast is around 225kms
Wearing no footwear, it will be a very difficult and painful run. Ben thinks it will be the longest on-road barefoot run attempted in Australia.
Ben will be running whether it’s rain or sunny and he doesn’t have a support crew on the road with him. ‘I had an electric car drive with me at the beginning of the run, to show that electric cars are the way of the future,’ he said. ‘I push a trolley in front of me with all of my supplies in it I’m carrying a surfboard to symbolise looking after our oceans and the marine life that doesn’t have a voice.’