Step Up stepped up


When our daughter was diagnosed with low grade serous ovarian cancer and told her likely life expectancy was five to 15 years, I told her I’d do anything I could to support her.

Two Fridays ago that meant walking 30+ kilometres as part of her Step Up challenge for Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month.

Most of those 46,483 steps were along the shore of Lake Wanaka on the Millennium Track, which passes the much-photographed Wanaka Tree.

An hour or so further on I added some height to the challenge, climbing Ironside Hill.


Although I did it by myself I wasn’t alone in accepting the challenge.

Jane and a friend climbed Roy’s Peak, overlooking Lake Wanaka.

Others stepped up in Australia (one of which was five mountains in a day with a jig at the top of each); in Canada (a bike ride  across Quebec) in the UK and in the USA.

If you would like to help fund lifesaving research which is the only hope for too many women, most in the their 20s and 30s, who get the diagnosis Jane did, you can do it here.


Virtual Dundee Kiltwalk


White isn’t the most practical colour for walking shoes when most of my daily perambulations are on farm tracks and unsealed roads.

But they were the only ones selling at a 30% discount that fitted me and the bargain trumped the colour.

Besides, they’re comfortable which is especially important today because they’ll be doing a lot of walking.

My daughter and I are doing the virtual Dundee Kiltwalk.

Our media release says:

While Scotland sleeps on Thursday night, two women will be starting the virtual Dundee Kiltwalk almost as far from the city as it is possible to get.

Jane Ludemann and her mother Elspeth will be walking up Signal Hill in Dunedin, New Zealand, three times. They will begin at 9:30am on Friday New Zealand time, which is 10:30pm on Thursday GMT.

Signal Hill is 393 metres (1289 feet) high.

They chose this  hill because the monument at its summit is hewn from the rock on which Edinburgh Castle stands and they are doing the Kiltwalk to raise money for research into low grade serous ovarian carcinoma at Edinburgh University.

When Jane was diagnosed with this rare form of cancer at the age of 32, three years ago, she discovered that there was very little research on the disease and no way to fund research into it anywhere in the world.

That spurred her to establish Cure Our Ovarian Cancer, a charitable trust dedicated to increasing awareness of LGSOC, supportIng  women with the disease and raising funds for research into better treatments and an eventual cure. The University of Edinburgh is their UK charity partner. Since 2019, Cure Our Ovarian Cancer has raised  £10 000 of their £25 000 target. They hope to part fund a researcher at the University of Edinburgh to develop better laboratory models of the cancer to help find new treatments. 

“University of Edinburgh’s Professor Charlie Gourley has provided national leadership of low-grade serous clinical trials in the UK.  Furthermore the work of his research team is world renowned,” Jane said.

Historically low-grade serous ovarian cancer has been overlooked. It disproportionately affects young women and the overall survival rates are really poor.” “It’s really confronting to stare death in the face at such a young age.” “If I don’t survive, the thing I want most in the world is to know this won’t happen to someone else.” “Knowing that Professor Gourley is on the other side of the world, working hard to improve survival, makes life that bit easier”, says Jane.  

Elspeth said that when Jane was diagnosed she and her husband said they would do anything they could to help her.

I didn’t think that would entail climbing a steep hill three times, but thankfully the Kiltwalk is about distance not speed.”

The rock at the top of the hill isn’t the only link between the Ludemann’s Kiltwalk and Scotland. Elspeth’s father, Charles Sime, was born in Dundee and lived there until he immigrated to New Zealand in his 20s.

“Although Dad ended up living in New Zealand longer than he lived in Scotland, he retained his accent and took great pride in wearing his kilt,” Elspeth said.

“He would be very sad that his granddaughter has cancer but so proud of what she is doing to raise awareness and funds. He loved tramping and would be tickled pink that we are doing the Kiltwalk with its link to him home town.”

The Dundee Kiltwalk has raised millions of pounds since it started in 2016. Covid-19 means people can’t walk together so this year’s will be the first virtual Kiltwalk. All funds raised will be matched by 50% donations from Sir Tom Hunter.

If you would like to help fund this lifesaving research you’ll find all the details here.



365 days of gratitude


After I got over the shock of the diagnosis that my baby had a degenerative brain disorder that would mean he’d have multiple disabilities and probably die soon I started to think about what I could control.

One thing that came to mind was my fitness.

With a baby and a two year-old to care for I had to find something I could do at home, settled on stationary biking and hired an exercycle.

The baby died the day after I hired it but I figured fitness would help with grief and began pedaling the stationary equivalent of 20 kilometres most days.

A year later I returned the hired bike, bought one myself and kept up the cycling through another pregnancy, a second diagnosis of a degenerative brain disorder and life with a profoundly disabled child.

About seven years after I started, around the time our second son died, the routine of biking nowhere was beginning to pall. By then the older child was at school which left me free to exercise away from home and I began jogging instead.

Going somewhere was better than staying still but after a few months recurring joint pain was taking the edge off the enjoyment. As the pleasure of increasing fitness gave way to niggling injuries, I had to find an alternative exercise I didn’t dread doing and began walking instead.

There’s a reasonable hill not far from home. I began walking up it and kept that up most days for several years. Every now and then I’d get a bit slack about it but the purchase of a Fitbit about three and a half years ago keeps me motivated to exercise most days.

I’m built for distance rather than speed and have no aspirations to race.

But the knowledge that regular exercise is better for both physical and mental health and the determination not to be the one who says “you go, I’ll wait here” when an expedition is proposed keeps me walking.

I sleep better and feel better when I’m fitter and I’m grateful I have both the time and ability to exercise.

366 days of gratitude


I spent the weekend in Wanaka and decided to make the most of two spare days by improving my fitness.

On Saturday I went up Mt Roy (that’s what the locals call it but maps have it as Roy’s Peak).

I was wearing walking shoes rather than tramping boots with decent grip and after about 45 minutes in snow and 20 or so minutes from the top decided that even with walking poles it was too slippery to continue.

The view from there was still pretty good.


Mt Roy

Yesterday I walked to Glendhu Bay and back, a distance of nearly 30 kilometres which took about 6 1/2 hours.

Today my legs are letting me know I’ve had a pretty good workout but the endorphins that come from it more than compensate and I’m grateful for that.


366 days of gratitude


Yesterday’s cold wind and rain gave me the excuse I wanted to forgo my morning constitutional.

Today was overcast but more or less dry so I chose the 7km round trip which gives me a mix of flat and hills.

It was cool enough to encourage me to keep up a brisk pace and when I got home I knew I’d exerted myself.

It’s a good feeling. I’m grateful for it and the ability to do the exercise that brings it.

366 days of gratitude


Mid afternoon I was enjoying a book when our daughter suggested we go for a walk.

Not just any walk but one which would involve about an hour up a steepish hill and, owing to the gradient, nearly as long coming down.

I hesitated – a couple of relaxing hours reading vs the same time going up and down a hill made it very tempting to say no.

I said yes and while I huffed and puffed my way up I did have the odd moment wondering why.

But the view at the top and conversation coming down (I can walk, talk and breathe on the flat or downhill but manage only two of those three going up and it’s the talking which gets dropped) made it worthwhile.

Today I’m grateful for the suggestion of a stiff walk and the enjoyment of having done it.

This Girl Can


Love the line I jiggle therefore I am:

Considerate flyer & a wellfesto


Discussion with Paul Brennan on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* 8 ways to avoid being ‘that annoying passenger’ on a flight at Conde Nast Daily Traveler


* 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out at the Wellfesto (which is a blog manifesto for wellbeing).

This post was sparked by an experience at a gym where the work-out coach was exhorting the class to imagine how they’d look.

The writer knew she didn’t want her daughter to be thinking of appearance as a motivation to fitness, instead she wanted her to know:

1. Strength equals self-sufficiency. . .

2. Fitness opens doors. . .

3. The bike is the new golf course. 

4. Exercise is a lifestyle, not an event. . .

5. Health begets health

6.  The bike is the new golf course. . . .

7.  Working out signals hard-working. . . 

8. If you feel beautiful, you look beautiful. . .

9. Nature rules. . .

10. Little eyes are always watching. . .


Get fit hits ACC


RadioNZ reports that the first five days of the New Year are likely to cost the Accident Compensation Corporation about $1 million in claims, as New Year ‘get fit’ resolutions are put into practice.

I ended 2012 with a reminder that exercise can lead to injuries.

As I got to the top of Mt Iron yesterday I reached for my phone to check how long it had taken me, tripped and fell.

My left thumb swelled and my leg is sporting a large multi-coloured bruise and graze but it’s nothing that requires medical assistance or an ACC claim.

It did prompt a resolution for 2013 though – I’ve resolved to take more care to look where I’m going.

Second best day walk


If you’re back at work you might want to skip this.

Labour Weekend hasn’t finished for me yet. I’ve sneaked an extra day in Wanaka and yesterday as part of the get-fit-enough-to-climb- Mt-Roy-before-year’s-end campaign* I walked up to Rocky Point.

It took an hour and seven minutes which is five minutes slower than it took when I last did it in January. Mount Roy is about three times higher so the need for more training is clear.

Rob Roy Glacier is my pick for the best day walk in the country and Rocky Point is the runner-up.

The track starts at a car park about 12 kilometres from Wanaka. It follows an old road to Diamond Lake then the track gets much narrower and steeper.

About 10 minutes from the start, the track divides allowing you to take the east or west route.

The west route goes through bush then into tussock country, the east route is more open all the way. We usually go up the west side and down the east.

Either way you’re rewarded with stunning vistas at the top.

Looking westish up the lake and Matukituki Valley you can see Mount Aspiring:

Looking eastish you get views across West Wanaka Station to the town:

*A friend and I agreed we’d climb Mt Roy (or more correctly Roy’s Peak)  this year – I wasn’t fit enough until mid January by which time it didn’t suit her. For a variety of reasons we haven’t been able to find a day which suits us both since then and we’re rapidly running out of year. We’re both still determined to do it and have pencilled in a day in December. I don’t want to hate every step, hence the get-fit campaign.

Separation just got harder


It’s not easy being in the SAS for the soldier or his family.

His wife and young children are at home while he’s in Afghanistan.

They prepared for his absence as best they could, including making videos of him reading stories which the children can play while he’s away.

But it’s not easy for his wife being a semi-solo mother. It’s not easy for the children who miss their father. It’s not easy for his parents, siblings, wider family and friends who miss him and worry.

It’s not easy for him either, being away for so long in a place where danger is ever present.

Thanks to Wikileaks it’s just got harder.

As Andrei says:

. . . Now Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks is basking in his moment of glory, feted by the media and casting himself as a truth teller.

But he is a traitor, whose actions will undermine the war in Afghanistan and reveal to our enemies our strategies for defeating them.

Hands up anyone thinks the world will be a better place if Afghanistan is lost?

Now if Mr Assange had revealed to the world the Taliban’s strategies and cruelties or Iranian ones that would be something.

Mind you anyone who did that would be gutted (literally not metaphorically) . . .

Leaking what is very sensitive information wasn’t striking a blow for freedom of expression; nor will it help bring peace.

It was playing politics with potentially serious consequences for the people who are trying to make a very troubled corner of the world a safer place.

Assange may have had a higher goal in mind but that will be no comfort at all to the soldier and his family for whom the war isn’t an abstract concept but a day to day reality.

Good trails take time


Much ado is being made of the discovery that the cycle trail initiative has progressed more slowly than some would like.

However, as John Key explained, it’s the planning and consenting process which is taking time.

That’s certainly the case with the Alps to the Ocean cycle trail, the last kilometre of which the PM opened when he was in Oamaru last weekend.

But that was the easy kilometre because it was on public land. Much of the remaining 313 kilometres are on private land and getting permission for it to pass through properties takes time.

Almost all affected land owners are happy with the idea in principle. They realise the economic benefits it could bring to the district, that the trail would be an asset for locals too and some see potential business opportunities in feeding, accommodating and entertaining cyclists.

But there are issues of property rights to work through.

The minimum width of land required is 1.5 metres, which isn’t a lot, even when multiplied by the distance which the track will pass through most properties.

But landowners are being asked to surrender part of their properties and lose privacy with – at least at this stage – no compensation.

I haven’t heard of anyone asking that the trail buys the land it will need but there are suggestions that a little rates relief might be in order.

This isn’t a major obstacle, there’s plenty of goodwill on both sides and almost everyone is supportive of the trail. But sorting through the issues and gaining the necessary permission from each property owner can’t be done quickly.

I am confident the trail will go ahead and that the promise of economic development from it will be realised, but good trails take time to get from the drawing board to completion.

Things I learned


*Walking 3 kilomteres up Castle Hill in Townsville when it’s 28 degrees with 90% humidity is harder than walking about 1/3 that distance up Mount Iron in Wanaka when it’s 20 degrees with 0 humidity.

* Australia has insects which bite, even when you’re moving.

* The bites itch.

* Drinking lots of water and sweating lots without compensating for what you’re losing can lead to cramp.

* Walking down hill with cramp in one thigh isn’t a lot of fun.

* Getting cramp in the other thigh makes it worse.

* There’s a great sense of satisfaction when you’ve done it.

* Doing it the second day without the cramp feels even better.

* Doing it the third day is better still, in spite of the blisters.

In training


Mount Roy stands guard over Lake Wanaka.

It’s  1,578 metres high and those who climb it are rewarded with panoramic views across the lake and up the Matukituki Valley to Mount Aspiring.

My first ascent of Mount Roy was with my best friend and her family when we were about 10.

A hundred or so metres short of the summit we were ready to give up but her father fed us chocolate and talked us to the top.

I’ve walked up several times since then, the last time was New Year’s Eve, 1999. I’ve contemplated climbing it again since then but never got further than good intentions.

However, those good intentions will translate into action soon because the friend with whom I first climbed the hill and I are planning to tackle it again this summer.

I’m taking my training reasonably seriously. It includes a walk up Mount Iron every morning and some days it feels harder than others.

That encourages me to keep training because it’s just 240 metres high and takes me about 30 minutes from the car park to the top. Last time I tackled Mount Roy it took about 3 1/4 hours and as I gaze across to it from Mt Iron I get the feeling it will have got stepper and higher since then.

View from the gym


Looking up Lake Wanaka from the top of Mt Iron this morning.

If you look carefully you’ll see a rainbow.

Is Santa in training . . .


. . . or is he lost?

If thinking about food makes you fat . . .


Japanese researchers have found that thinking about something sweet can cause you to store fat.

If thinking about food makes you fat, could thinking about exercise make you fit?

Tuning in to fun


Anyone who’s had anything to do with children knows that your chances of getting them to do something are greater if they think it’s fun.

It works with adults too.

Making it fun is much more likely to get people to do the right thing than regulations and sermons.

You can preach about behavioural changes or follow Volkswagon and get a serious message across with fun as it has through its website:   The Fun Theory where it says:

This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

I especially liked this idea of tuning in to fun for health’s sake:

Hat Tip: Motella

Now we’ve got hail


The snow I posted on yesterday didn’t last long. By lunchtime the sun was making appearances between clouds and if you could escape the icy wind it was almost warm.

We biked out to Albert Town, up the track beside the Clutha River and back along the  Wanaka lakeside without risking exposure.

It was 5 degrees when we started up Mount Iron this morning, which isn’t too bad if you’re wearing merino and trying to walk fast* up hill. However, the temperature has dropped since then and now it’s hailing.

I hope the lambs which are getting a cold introduction to the world have good shelter.

*fast is a relative term, some days the hill is steeper and today was one of them.

Another day another gym


The view from this gym might not be quite as spectacular as the one from last Saturday’s, but it’s still pretty good:

hp gym 1

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