Our different challenges give us the opportunity to meet people who share the idea that sport is a vector of communication and integration. So, we wanted to introduce to you Ignacio Packer, winner of the Ultra NORWAY Race 2015 but also secretary general of the child rights organisation, Terre des Hommes (www.terredeshommes.org).
“I believe in the impossible”, Ignacio Packer
I enjoy the physical, emotional, and spiritual journey of outdoor events and the chance to meet great people. I took up trail running, ultra running and other endurance adventures because I believe in the impossible and I practice believing every day.
Working for development and humanitarian organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières and Terre des Hommes for over 25 years, I am privileged to have trained in over 100 countries and in some of the most adverse conditions of war torn contexts such as in Liberia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria or the Occupied Territories of Palestine. I have adapted by doing laps in small compounds, running up-stairs, training day after day in a small room as security conditions would not allow to run outside. But most of my running experience has put me in contact with people in sometimes very remote places, enabling me to better understand people’s life and the context. It has put me in contact with nature and with… myself.
Whether working in close proximity with vulnerable populations, advocating for child rights at ministerial level, experiencing crazy family projects or living my “sane madness” for endurance sports, I have encountered passion, friendship and love. Many of my professional and sport challenges have been long and tough and pushed the limits. I cannot imagine them otherwise.
As secretary general of the child rights organisation, Terre des Hommes (www.terredeshommes.org), reaching yearly over 4 million children in 70 countries, my position requires a great deal of endurance and disposition for complex situations. Endurance sports help me in my development and accompany me in my professional life. Running allows me to have a freer mind and and more clarity and distance to relativize problems.
The use of sport and games as a means to provide psychosocial support to children affected by disaster is an area of sport and development that has an important place in Terre des Hommes model of intervention.
The emotional link than sport can offer is an extraordinary experience. In 2015, participating in the first Ultra Norway Race of Canal Aventure was intense. The before, during and after the race, tackling difficult weather conditions, not only left me with and incredible sport experience but created long lasting friendships. I came for a challenge, I also returned with friends.
The power of sport is used for social causes and I give my contribution linking it directly with my professional life. In 2014, I self-organised a 400 km running challenge. Completed in less than 80 hours from Milan to Geneva, I handed over to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council powerful views and opinions of migrant children collected at their arrival by boat from Libya.
Last year, I ran the 4K Alpine Endurance Trail Valle D’Aosta 350 km 25’000D+, creating awareness around the solutions to avoid human rights violations in the organization of major sporting events such as the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup (www.childrenwin.org).
This July, I intend to cycle, run and kayak from Berlin to Vukovar in Croatia. Self-organised and in full autonomy. 1’150 km in 9 days for 9 principles to create awareness around the Destination Unknown campaign to protect migrant children (www.destination-unknown.org).
More than ever, I believe in impossible things as the way to make them possible. Our passion for endurance sport can create awareness and fundraise for social causes… even the most impossible ones.