Stepping stone to adventure

By: Dr Peter Hall

If you see an old grey-haired guy wandering up your street, don’t ring the nearest rest home. It’s probably me. I am, I’m proud to say, in training for a trek to Everest Base Camp in September. This is a long-held dream. I read Edmund Hillary’s Nothing Venture, Nothing Win as a teenager and, ever since, have wanted to walk in his footsteps.

But Everest, really? Did you know that the highest point in Whangaparaoa is less than 500ft? And EBC is 17,600ft? How am I meant to prepare for this? Besides the physical exertion, there is 50 percent less oxygen at that altitude. I quickly came to the conclusion that my weekly stroll round the estuary wasn’t going to cut it. So now I walk 15 to 20km on a Sunday, and on Fridays, I go up and down the Wenderholm hill a couple of times. I’ve even invested in an exercycle as a wet weather option.

Nobody is more amazed at my effort than I am. I get a bit bored going to the gym and my bung Achilles has ruled out my previous favourite sport, squash. On holiday I usually bury my nose in a book. But somehow I’ve found the drive to work really hard to achieve this goal. Which leads me to the question of motivation.

We are always trying to encourage people to make positive health changes. Without a doubt the success or failure of that depends on the person’s internal motivation. And this Everest thing really matters to me. Not only have I paid money to get there, I desperately want to avoid the embarrassment of being carried off the mountain on a yak’s back. So I’m out pounding the streets, with my flash new pack that has so many straps, buckles, pockets and tabs that I had to consult Google to find out how to put it on.

My particular regime is working because I’ve chosen an activity that is enjoyable in itself and because it gets me to a personal goal. If I can do it, I think anybody can. The key is to find something that you really want to do. And you know what? I’ve found the Hibiscus Coast is eminently walkable. There are great little beaches, footpaths, leafy streets and, best of all, the stunning panorama from the lookout at Shakespeare Park. It’s only 300ft above sea level, but for me it’s a stepping stone to adventure.

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