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April 2022 Issue
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Step by step

Alistair Hall, editor.

There’s a dad joke that goes, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ Answer: One bite at a time. Yeah, it’s cringe, but its also a phrase used to describe how we can tackle big, seemingly overwhelming, tasks. Do it gradually, one bite – or step – at a time. 

That’s how I’ve been tackling the Walk1200km challenge. I’ve walked for 168 days in a row now. Bite sized walks with a few big ones thrown in to boost my total distance walked. 

That’s how you build a habit out of walking and exercise and rather than new places visited, though there have been plenty, or big trips completed, it’s that habit which will be how I judge my personal success in completing Walk1200km. I want to be healthier and fitter every day – for my daughter, my wife and myself. 

If you’re not already doing the challenge, it’s never too late to take that first bite. Really, open the door and just get stuck in.  

Of course, there’s another way to knock off a big challenge: go hell for leather to complete it. You won’t find many tougher tramping challenges than thru-hiking Te Araroa Trail. That’ll have you over the Walk1200km line in a matter of months. 

When I talked to Michelle Campbell, who wrote the main story in our special TA feature, ‘The long path to the heart’, I broached the subject of walking the trail with your partner and whether it would be better to go solo or with someone near and dear. She (and those she ended up interviewing) was adamant: doing it with someone close to you is better than doing it alone. Fights will erupt, but this is nothing, we’re told, compared to the joy and pleasure of sharing an adventure and accomplishing something so monumental with another person. Finishing a long trail and returning to civilian life can leave people feeling deflated. Doing it on your own and heading home to friends and family who don’t know what you’ve been through can make it even harder. But with a companion – your husband, wife, partner – getting back into the routine of life can be easier.

I guess the lesson here, no matter the challenges you face – whether chosen or thrust upon you – sharing them with others and tackling them slowly and carefully, will help you make it through.