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YMCA Coast To Coast ‘No Sweat’ For 84 Year Old Walker

14th September 2012

YMCA Coast To Coast ‘No Sweat’ For 84 Year Old Walker

The YMCA of Christchurch this year commemorates 150 years of community service. As part of the celebrations, on September the 22nd and 23rd a contingent of 40 keen YMCA staff and members will be undertaking to walk, run and cycle the 230kms between Kumara (on the West Coast) and Christchurch City. What makes this unusual is that the members are all aged between 70 and 90 years old!

Evelyn ‘May’ Campbell, a member for 15 years at the YMCA, is 84 years ‘young.’ “I don’t think about my age, I just get on and do it!” says May. “I don’t drink or eat much, and I have exercised and played sports all my life. That is probably the secret to staying healthy and living to an old age. The YMCA staff are going to make sure I eat when we do the Coast to Coast though!” she said with a laugh.

May is just one example of a large crew of Life Fit members – a fitness, recreational and social club for men and women over 60 years of age. May is an inspiration to members and staff alike with her positive attitude towards life. She comes to the gym many times a week and recommends it to her friends. She walks everywhere and anticipates she will walk a minimum of 30kms during the YMCA Coast to Coast event.

The Life Fit members, along with the support of 8 YMCA staff and many family and friends as ‘support crew,’ will overnight at Arthurs Pass between Kumara and Christchurch. Each participant will choose which sections they walk, run or cycle so as to reach their own personal goals, while also being encouraged by their mates and enjoying the stunning West Coast and alpine scenery.

Roger Whitley, a 71 year old who has been involved with the YMCA for 40 years, is another excited participant. He said when asked what motivates him to undertake such a challenge: “Fellowship. Challenge. Achievement. Fun. That pretty much sums it up.” Roger comes to the YMCA gym 6 days a week for 2 hours, and also runs every day. He expects to run at least 60kms for the event, in between walking alongside his Life Fit friends.

The YMCA Life Fit programmes have been life-changing for many of our members and this challenge is to showcase how far they have come in their journey towards leading healthy lifestyles. A woman from Montana, America has travelled over especially for the event after hearing of the event when staying at the Christchurch YMCA earlier this year. Another participant has used this event as a 'carrot' for his cancer recovery. All in all many of the group face various health issues and for many the event has been a big factor in motivating them to train hard over the cold winter months.

Funding for the event has been raised by those participating through individual sponsorship and donations. A ‘grand finale’ finishing awards ceremony will be held at the Bishopdale YMCA on the evening of Sunday 23rd September.

The Coast to Coast event is obviously inspired by Robin Judkin’s iconic Coast to Coast event that has been an annual South Island event each February since 1983. “Our event won’t be as epic as that of course, with no kayaking involved and with a lot of ‘rest stops’ and probably less sweating and more talking en route! However, we think it is pretty inspirational considering the age of our participants… it is an appropriate way to see in our 150th year and a credit to the YMCA gym trainers who have encouraged our older members to give it a go,” said CEO Josie Ogden Schroeder.

The YMCA of Christchurch is a Charitable Trust which is in its 150th year of community service. The YMCA works in a range of sectors – including outdoor education, health & fitness, recreation, accommodation, early childhood education, youth training, youth development and camping. The YMCA vision is ‘Building Strong People, Strong Families, Strong Communities.’


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