Wednesday, February 28, 2018

World Walk Interview # 4 - Post New Zealand

World Walk Interview #4

Post-New Zealand interview with Irish adventurer Tony Mangan who has just walked the 20,000th kilometer of his world walk. In this extended questions and answers interview, we ask some of the questions you may have wondered about. February 27th will be the second anniversary of the start of his global march for cancer awareness. This is his third lap of the world. When he was younger he cycled it. Then between 2010 and 2014, he completed a four-year, 50,000-kilometre world run.

Questions compiled by Scott Richards, Florida, USA.


SR:  You walked New Zealand without your pushcart which you call Karma. Why did you choose to carry your gear in a backpack instead of
using Karma? Did it work out like you figured? 

TM:  I ran on those same roads on my world run five years ago. On that run I also didn't use my cart as in the south island, in particular, there are so many narrow roads and especially narrow bridges which I found to be extremely dangerous without the added danger of pushing a
cart. In addition to all of this, I noticed a definite increase in traffic in those five years. Widening the roads is going to be a major problem for New Zealand as in many places there is just not enough room. A friend of mine (Kevin Carr) ran with his cart a few years ago.

I suspect that he took more back roads than I did. I could have done that also but as I have so many special friends there I would have had
to take a different route from my world run and away from them. I didn't want to do that, I wanted to meet up with them again. So, I guess it worked for Kevin and though it was an extra effort, it worked well for me too. I researched this well, I made my decision and don't regret it. There were times on narrow sections when I wondered how I would have managed to push Karma. I also wondered about the safety and even without the cart I still had my safety issues with some tight roads that had little or no shoulder and I also had some moments with the police!

SR:  Did you have to explain to the police at any point what you were doing and please tell us some of the run-ins with them?

TM:  Yes, several times. Though it was mostly 'a welfare check' as American cops sometimes call it! However, a couple of months ago I was
pulled off a bridge while crossing the the Ashley River by an arrogant cop who wouldn't let me run the last 120 meters. When I asked if I could  run in front of his patrol car. He screamed, "Get into my car NOW or I will lock you up." I did, but as soon as I got across I asked him to take me back to the far side of the bridge from where I had just come so I could wade across the river. He took me back and left me while still shaking his head.  Interestingly, years earlier on my world run, I ran through Tongariro National Park and I was enjoying the stunning views of the active Tongariro and Ruapehu volcanoes. When I got to Waiouru a cop car pulled up on the hard shoulder. A police officer got out and he was followed by a television cameraman. The cop asked me questions about what I was doing while the cameraman continued to film. Then I realized that I  as filmed for a police television show similar to the tv show Cops. Later, I got an email asking me for my permission to use the segment in their New Zealand show called: Highway Cops. Years later I still get messages from my friends back in Ireland and in many other countries to say they have seen the episode which is still being repeated! I believe it's in the first season of the show. The filmmakers wouldn't give me a link to use, so I'm on the lookout for someone to record it for me!

SR:  From your Facebook posts, you seemed to have met up with a lot of your old friends from when you ran there in 2013. But also in New
Zealand, you seemed to be meeting people every day along the roads who offered you help, a place to stay, food, and even transporting your
backpack forward, etc. Why do you think this was?

TM:  People all over the world are friendly and hospitable. It's not just in New Zealand. I only feel comfortable accepting such help in
the richer countries. In the poorer countries all I need is shelter, company and when I can do it without offending I use my own food and
offer stuff like a jar of coffee, sardines or some small money. Yes, it was wonderful meeting up with so many of my Kiwi friends again. Some others have moved on to other places and others I lost contact with them as I didn't do as much Facebook back then. That was a shame, that's part of travelling. You are right that so many people, including strangers, just came up to me and offered all kinds of help and assistance. I guess us Irish are popular! Seriously it wouldn't have mattered where I was from as Kiwis are such a friendly race.  Frankly, I'm not surprised that the country was recently voted 'the best place in the world to live in.' That was the result of a huge survey by the Legatum Institute.

SR:  Why are you walking with a cancer awareness message and how receptive were Kiwis towards this message?

TM:  Pretty much so. It seems that almost everyone I speak to these days is touched by it. I had a lot of roadside conversations, in cafes
and in people’s homes.  It's a tough message to share as so many people have a harrowing story. During my world run, my mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer. We didn't have a history of cancer in our family.  Mam was healthy. She was also active, ate a good diet which included lots of fruit and veg. She didn't smoke or drink alcohol. Perhaps with an early diagnosis and early screening things could have been
different. When I decided to hit the road again it seemed like a good way not only to honor her but hopefully for others listen to my message and that they may be more fortunate than her.  My message is that: Life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives.

SR:  I understand that there is little or none ozone layer in New Zealand? Is cancer a much-discussed topic down there?

TM:  Yes, it's in the media so much and there are information signs up in many places encouraging people to watch out for the symptoms of
breast and prostate cancer. As in Australia people also get home testing kits free of charge from the government once they turn fifty.  Yes, you are correct about the ozone layer and whereas Kiwis are pretty outdoorsy types, many people I met just flaunt the sun, others cover up or use a good sunscreen.

SR:   How was the weather in New Zealand for your walk?

TM: Though NZ is not as hot as Australia but it was a lot warmer than I expected. Many people mentioned that I could expect a lot of rain.
Coming from Ireland I am well trained in that regard, lol! Still, there was not as much rain as I was prepared for as they seem to be going through a semi-drought in much of the country. It's definitely not as green as Ireland is now, or even as New Zealand once was,
perhaps a sign of global warming? (NZ route see map3)

SR:  I understand you are now going to walk more in Australia! Why are you walking this extra distance when you have technically walked the
continent already? Can you give us a rough idea of all of your 'extra distance?'  What was the idea of your NZ timeout? Did you plan it so it would be that? Sorry for being so long-winded!

 TM:   That's okay Scott! Initially, I only planned to walk in the region of 4,300 kilometers from Perth to Sydney. (Map 2)  I'm not interested in
any speed records. After enjoying Australia so much I decided to walk this extra leg. Another factor was that I had such a positive interaction with people regarding my cancer awareness message that I decided that I would continue the Australian leg of my world walk up to Darwin. There was one problem though! The heat in Queensland and also in the Northern Territories. That was the reason I took a summer timeout from Australia. I wish I could have walked for another month in New Zealand, but I had to return when I did to get another six months on my Australian multi-entry visa. Going to NZ for the Aussie timeout was the logical thing to do because of the milder weather there and that way I can return to my exact location in Toowoomba City, Queensland. Crucially, I wouldn't have any gaps in my route.    My extra walking route from Sydney to Toowoomba City was about 900kms and from Toowoomba to Mt Isa to Darwin is going to be about 3,600 kilometers (see map 4.) So I guess I am walking twice the minimum distance required to complete the continent from Perth to Sydney. As much as my Kiwi mates hate hearing it, my 1,600 there was also extra as I could easily have ticked off the continent in Sydney! There was no way I was going to miss out on an amazing country like New Zealand.

SR:  Did you see many other people running, walking or cycling the country?

TM:  I didn't come across any other journey runners or walkers but as the country is so beautiful cyclists were pretty much 'ten-a-penny' in New Zealand. I probably came across more cyclists there than the rest of my world walk combined.

SR:   Were accommodation and food easy to come by?

TM:   Pretty much. Because smaller towns are not as far apart in New Zealand I was never far from a supermarket or even a fish and chip
shop. Though still expensive they were also much cheaper than in Australia. If you look hard enough you can find bargains and many
small towns and cities have 5 dollar pizza specials as the popular pizza chains are having a price war. Fish and chips cost about seven dollars (five Euro) and many restaurants have a takeaway section and don't mind you sitting there. The result is you can eat a twenty dollar meal for a fraction of that, you just need to use your imagination.

Re: Accommodations
I have a lot of friends there and they helped me enormously and then they sometimes kindly set me up with their friends. I was also grateful to at least eight hotels that generously gave me complimentary accommodation. In addition, there were places where I asked to camp and I was often invited inside and given a bed, or at least a plate of food. So-called freedom camping is pretty much forbidden in New Zealand. I probably camped in about three campsites and as I hate paying about 15 dollars for a patch of grass, so I usually try to secured a discount or a  complimentary night by presenting my mission card which I use to promote my global walk.

About four times I hid in forests and another few times I asked for permission at farms or houses with some land attached. People were 100
percent obliging. My experience is that people respect what I'm doing and are delighted to help. Others may not want to do what I'm doing
but in a strange way, they see in me someone living out their dream and are incredibly supportive.

SR:  What kind of tent did you use there as I imagine weight was an issue?

TM:   I pretty much planned to rough NZ without a tent. But the day after I arrived I saw a Macpac, Microlite 1.3 kilogramme tent in a camping shop.  I purchased it for 200 NZ dollars ( originally 400 NZ dollars ) as I was offered a 50% discount to help out with my mission. So I kinda wimped out and bought it as I wondered about roughing it! I love the tent as there is a huge vestibule (outside storage area under canvas) where I can store my smelly boots and pack.

SR:  What about a backpack, other equipment,  your cooking gear and how heavy was your backpack when it was fully loaded?

TM:   About eight kilos total. I could have gotten the weight down more had I not bothered with such luxuries as a blow-up airbed! These days
my poor aching body needs to be pampered a bit more than it did when I was tough! The backpack I initially planned to walk the country with
got damaged and besides, I doubt if it would have been big enough.  Thankfully the manufacturer, Oz Trail gave me a great replacement. It's a 40-litre capacity which was perfect for the job! I particularly liked the yellow rain cover which not only made it high-viz, but it meant I could also write my cancer awareness message on it. I also used a 500-gram summer sleeping bag. I didn't bother with cooking gear but I picked up
two thermos mugs from op (charity) shops. I just added the boiling water, after presenting my Mission Card and asking permission, that I obtained from petrol stations, cafes, houses etc. to add hot water to noodles or porridge and most important of all, for my coffee in the morning. I also carried sardines, raisins and peanuts. I charged my phone up wherever I stopped to snack or sleep. I also carried two spare battery packs which I charged whenever I could, more weight! It's also important to keep everything dry so I have a few dry-packs for my clothes, electronics and other important items.

SR:   Between your world run and now this world walk you must have tried every shoe brand. How many have you worn out and which is the best shoe?

 TM:  On the world run I used 50 pairs (50,000 kilometers) On the walk I'm on my 16th pair. Regarding the best shoes; that's always the easiest question of all to answer. Free shoes!

SR:  In New Zealand were there any long, looming stretches or desolate roads like in the Australian outback?

 TM:  Not really. There was one stretch of about 65 kilometers between Waiouri and Turangi which is called the Desert Road. As the name suggests there was nothing there. I just did a commute back and forth from Turangi to my route and stayed in a backpackers hostel for two nights. In comparison to Australia, New Zealand is the ultimate in luxury!

SR:  As you prepare for your return to Australia-part two what are you going to miss about New Zealand?

 TM:  The first thing I'm going to miss is the security of being able to walk worry free on grass. New Zealand has no snakes or venomous spiders etc. So, I'm obviously going to have to watch every step I take as there are a lot where I'm going. I can't leave my backpack and shoes outside my tent and I will have to zip it up fully. Aussies are equally hospitable as their neighboring brothers and sisters but because I'm going a lot more remote I will be having fewer people contacts. I will miss that but I still expect to have a blast there. I have no doubt I will soon be missing the cooler Kiwi weather when I hit Queensland!

SR:  What are you particularly looking forward to on your return to Australia?

TM:   I'm looking forward to the outback adventure again. There is something uniquely special about Australia and camping under the stars
in the bush. I look forward to being able to cook my meals over a campfire and as strange as it sounds I miss the kangaroos. I never got bored looking at them hop through fields and across the road right in front of me.

SR:  Where are you going to after your extra walking in New Zealand and Australia?

 TM:  I have also walked Asia, but I want to go back there for extra walking, lol :) Extra walking might make a good title for me someday!  Seriously, I have always wanted to walk in Japan and before Perth when I walked south from Russia to Mongolia to China to Vietnam, (see map 1) Japan was not on my route at that time. So, that's why I'm going back to Asia.  As I'm a purist I am particular about keeping my route continuous I will be starting back there in Asia from an ocean location in China which was near my route when I previously walked through. So I will be  reconnecting my route back up.

SR:   Are there rules regarding an attempt to run or walk around the world and if so what are the main rules?

TM:   Yes. The World Runners Association  ( WRA )drew up some guidelines based on the experience of previous around-the-world runners. Though intended for runners walkers are also encouraged to register and follow these rules. Following a successful attempt in which the adventurer will have been observed he/she will be invited to submit their logbook and other proof, they may have. Currently, the WRA has
six members, of which I’m one of them.  The most important rules are: Minimum distance on foot is 26,232 Kilometers, 3,000 km minimum per continent. Four continents coast to coast with no gaps. You must Start/Finish in the same location. You have to cross and then recross the equator. Lastly, while crossing the globe you must visit two antipodes. Antipodes are complete opposite locations in the world  (Click the link for a map to find antipodes ). In other words, if you dug a hole dead straight through the earth, it’s the exact spot that you will come out at! Mine are at my friend's house in Hamilton, NZ and  also at a location in a field just outside of Cordoba Spain. Because they’re harder to find than you think, there is an allowable tolerance, but as I say I prefer the purist way and will touch the exact spot.

For more info on the WRA rules please see:

SR:  When are going to finish your world walk?

 TM:  I love this so much, so obviously my answer has to be 'whenever!'

SR:  I'm sure there are many people wondering how you fund this world walk!

TM:  As you can see from my posts this is a pretty low budget expedition. I do the odd paid talk and when they happen I put that towards hefty expenses like travel insurance. It would be nice to do a few more but they are difficult to organize. In the western world, I also get a lot of offers of places to stay and so many people are extraordinarily generous. I have absolutely no financial sponsors other than readers that chose to sponsor a day or whatever on the Paypal link. ( found here…  ) In a good year that covers my travel insurance and the odd flight at the end of a continent. Please see the link on my website

My main source of income is the rent differential between what I get for renting out my house. After I have paid my mortgage repayments, insurance, repairs, expenses and tax. It works out at about ten Euro a day, which isn't that much and can go quickly if one's not careful. Next I rely on donations from friends and readers to my PayPal account  ( found on my web page ) to supplement the help I get on the walk because normally if I don't stay in a dirt cheap hotel or hostel ( which I usually only do when I need to do laundry or it's going to be bad weather for a day or so ), I camp. Other times I cook and or get invited to a meal with someone who I met earlier in the day That I gave one of Mission Cards to!  Believe it or not, there have been only a few flights, that I've had to take to get this far in the trip in 2 years. I live a pretty Minimalist existence and not in the materialistic world. So, obviously unlike most people I am not paying to put children through university, I sold my car, so I don't have those other associated expenses. Nor do I pay rent, pay 100 dollars a month for Sky Sports or pay electricity. My only water and gas charges are when I buy a rare bottle of water instead of filling it up at a tap and buy a camping gas container for cooking! Most people are astonished at how little is needed to do a trip like this. Sometimes I sense that their mindset is still set on their own wild and expensive holiday in Bali or the Costa del Sol and multiplying that by two years rather than the reality of how I'm actually doing it!  I'm aware that if you are on a long backpacking journey and paying for buses, hostels, restaurants, beer etc. it costs a fortune. But when you slow it down and elect for one of the three best ways to travel: Journey run, walk or cycle then it's a whole different ballgame. The sky is your limit and I believe the slower one travels and the longer it takes the self-sufficient traveler to get from one place to the next that the experience is multiplied and the monthly cost is diminished.

SR:  Why do you think you have no sponsors?

TM:  Perhaps because I'm always acknowledging even the smallest help that I get that people might think that I don't need sponsorship. I could do a lot more and even have the odd steak dinner if I had sponsors. I also don't like talking about myself and hate interviews. I know I have a conflict there with spreading my cancer awareness message, but I believe that I have a better effect when I meet people one-to-one.  Every interview I do its because I'm approached. I honestly can't remember the last time I sought out an interview. Even at the end of my world run, I had no interest in doing the whole media circus. Perhaps that is the reason that I don't fare well with sponsors is that I never make such lists as ' the 50 most daring adventurers.' That said, a big highlight was when I was picked up by the BBC and interviewed for their Outlook programs '50 most inspiring people of the last 50 years' It was a special moment to make the shortlist!

SR:  Finally, do cynics ever accuse you of being just on a prolonged holiday and if so what is your response?

TM:  I get the occasional snide remark along those lines. Almost as if I'm a bum who is too lazy to work! Then after speaking to me for a while, they realize just how passionate I am about my walk and most importantly about my cancer awareness message. Sometimes I mentioned that people have actually listened to my message, gone to their doctors and discovered tumors. I ask the cynics one simple question.  "What have you done for cancer awareness in the last two years?" That is usually followed by silence.

SR:   Thank you, Tony, for your honest and interesting responses. Good luck with the Australia Part 2.

TM:  Thank you, Scott, so much for your time and interest in my cancer awareness world walk. Life is precious and early cancer screening
saves lives.

Friday, February 23, 2018

My world walk blog New Zealand 22 "My return to walk extra in Australia."

My return to walk extra in Australia.
My immediate plans are to walk some more in Australia. After a short break, I want to continue walking from where I left my Australian route almost three months ago:  I now expect to start burning leather on the road on Wednesday, 28th Feburary from  near Toowoomba City which is near Brisbane. I will walk to Mt Isa and then continue on to Darwin. Depending on my exact route it will be in the region of 3,600 kilometres. See last map below for rough route plans. This is all extra walking on the Oceanic continent. Before that, I will take a short rest break and use that time to catch up on some other commitments.
After Darwin, I will return to East Asia for more extra walking (I have also walked Asia.) That's a long, long way ahead for someone who likes to live in the moment. All I know is it will be shortly before my six-month Australian visa expires on August 14th. Another reason I'm taking this short break as it's still hot in Queensland and besides I have so much time on the Aussie visa. I will wait a bit before rushing back to my route.
New Zealand stats: 1,603 kilometres walked in 60 road days. Please see my last two maps which Benjamin, my map man in Berlin kindly provided.
Total: 20,088 kilometres in 558 road days.

My world walk blog New Zealand 21 " Thank you New Zealand"

Thank you, New Zealand!
New Zealand has been walked! Despite heavy rain, my spirits were not dampened on the final day of my walk across the land of the long white cloud 😁 That day it was more like the land of the long black cloud.
I was delighted when my fabulous host's Alan Knox, a retired editor for the National Radio station and Sue, his wife, an IT software trainer specialist came out to accompany me for my last 18 kilometres in the country. Our route was from Papatoetoe to Mechanics Bay. In the end, Alan did the driving and Sue the walking with me. It's always such a joy when people can walk with me. Alan wondered if he would finish his book: War and Peace before I finished walking across New Zealand 😂
There was also a double-delight when two Irishmen who both live here and who had separately been communicating with me also came out to brazen the elements. Bizarrely,  both men had recent accidents and were bandaged up, as was Alan.
Belfast man John Mcalister picked up a painful rib and neck injury after a freak fall and Dubliner, Sean Nolan a wrist injury when he slipped while out for a run.
John who works for a gas contractor walked the first half hour with us. We laughed when he told us that like many Kiwi companies, his job doesn't expect their workers to work in the rain.  In Ireland, because of our constant downpours, not much work would be done! He would have liked to walk the entire distance but had to be careful not to aggravate his injury. Unfortunately, his Kiwi wife took him home. We made an arrangement to meet in his house for tea on Monday morning.
I walked along with Sue and we dodged puddles and splashes from passing vehicles. Luckily, it was a warm rain, 23 degrees Celsius according to my smartphone but it sure didn't feel that warm.
As we walked we had an interesting conversation about the amazing properties of the inside of banana skins! Next time you run out of shoe polish just rub the inside of a skin on a shoe and then buff it with a white cloth. Teeth whitener: After you eat your next banana rub the inside of the skin on your teeth to whiten them. Apparently, the magnesium and potassium help whiten the enamel of your teeth. Wart Cure: It only takes 1-2 weeks to remove a wart with a banana peel. Other uses include cures for acne, dry skin, itching, insect bites and many other uses.
I had planned for us to walk on the back roads which led through housing estates and ran parallel to the highway, called the Great South Road. Due to the rain wetting my phone when I checked my phone map I decided it was easier to stay on the highway which thankfully had decent footpaths. We walked down Broadway, Parnell Road and eventually down Gladstone Road. At that point, Sue and I were joined by Sean who had been delayed by a business appointment arrived in time to walk the last kilometre. Thrilled to bits, I walked right up to the ocean, Mechanics Bay. The same spot where I began the Kiwi leg of my world run five years ago. For my reward, Sean presented me with two products that so many Irish abroad salivate for; a box of Barry's tea and a couple of packets of our much-loved Tayto crisps. 😂
Alan who has a bandaged up face from a recent melanoma operation parked his car also walked that final kilometre. I have also picked up a foot injury. So, that day it was a case of the four walking wounded males!
Naturally, Sean and I wanted to chat and we were grateful when my hosts invited him back to their house for tea, Barry's tea of course!
We laughed at the weird introduction we got! A year and a half ago I had a strange request for my friend Avril Conroy who works in Moscow. She is a go-getter who gets things done. I was walking in central Russia and marching towards what I expected to be a cold Mongolia and China. I got a strange notion to equip myself with a pair of (waterproof) neoprene socks as I expected a lot of snow and dampness. Where to get them. I asked Avril and to cut a long story short she emailed Sean who was in Canada at the time. He went to an outdoors store, picked them up along with a compass and even made Facebook friends with the store owner for me! As he was on the way to Ireland he just got them to Avril's husband who just happened to be in Ireland on a business trip. Next day he returned to Avril in Moscow who posted them on to me!
Sean is a high achieving entrepreneur who fills a gap in the shortage of New Zealand's social housing market. He sources high-quality prefab houses from a factory near Moscow. They are then shipped to New Zealand. He also does this business in several countries which involves a lot of travel.
Thank you, New Zealand for such a wonderful time. It was pure joy, hospitality, friendship and beautiful scenery all the way from Slope Point to Auckland. I will never be able to repay your great kindness and humanity.

My world walk blog new Zealand 20. "The Honesty Box"


The Honesty Box.
20,070 kilometres in 557 road days.
Friday the 9th February I walked 23 kilometres and finished at Gasoline Alley Service station in the Auckland suburbs. Many Maori place names leave me flummoxed, however, the fun names like this one, Papatoetoe I can remember easily. That left 18 kms still to walk on my route in the country. I'm going to take a rest day on Saturday so as my hosts can walk with me on Sunday as they are busy tomorrow. I wanted to walk more today, but I was a rain wimp!
New Zealand may be an expensive country for the budget traveller. However, one can still have treats by checking out long-term special offers from pizza chains like Domino's Pizza and Pizza Hut. Why go to the burger chains and pay twice as much for half as much?
Also, many restaurants have a takeaway fish and chips section and don't mind the customer sitting inside. Those take away meals cost about seven dollars, about a third of the cost of the cheapest regular meal.
In the countryside, many houses and farms supplement their beer money, lol 😂 by selling vegetables like a bag of tomatoes or cucumber or even fruit or eggs for a couple of dollars. They leave the products outside unattended and drop their money the appropriate cost into an 'honesty box' bolted onto a stand beside the food. That way, unlike when purchasing from shops we can be sure the produce is fresh and it's usually cheaper.

My world walk blog new Zealand 19 Alas the end is nigh

Alas, the end is nigh.

For the fourth day on the trot, I got to walk on quiet rural backroads and loved it to bits. However, for the first two hours, I followed the moderately busy highway 22, after which my walking was bliss. My day was set up well when Hoss, my host offered to take my backpack on to Murphys Law Irish bar in Drury 38 kilometres away.

 I walked past broccoli, corn and onion fields and stopped to talk to a farmer and his Indian foreman. Gone are the days when farm workers planted seeds by hand. This farmer had four  Indian workers driving a farm vehicle through the field while three workers who were sitting in it hurriedly fed broccoli seeds into a revolving plate which punched them into the soil. The growing time for broccoli and onions is ten weeks I was told. No sooner where the onions pulled up when it was time to plant the broccoli. I ran over a narrow bridge which was about two hundred metres long and had no footpath. Anytime a vehicle came from behind I had to jump up on a ledge.

That took me to a small town called Tuakau for lunch. I dined on a couple of meat pies, the staple diet of Kiwis the owner of the supermarket joked, and they sure do like their pies. I also bought a litre of milk and as the pies were cheap I bought a couple more for the road. The weather was mild, about 23C. These last few days I walked over short leg-sapping hills. Just before eight o'clock I made it to Drury and was treated to a drink by a Wexford barman in Murphy's Law bar when I picked up my pack. He has been living here for six years and I'm afraid to say that I missed his name and he went home early. Thank you, my friend. The manager let me stay for free in a campsite around the back of the bar.
All good things must come to an end. Alas, the end is nigh. I have enjoyed New Zealand immensely, so much that it's my favourite country of the walk so far. Almost certainly tomorrow, Friday will be my last road day as I walk into Auckland. I have decided that I will end New Zealand at the same spot where I began the country on my world run five years ago. At Mechanics Bay in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour. Please see photo map, its 41 kilometres from where I am tonight in Drury. I plan to walk that tomorrow and perhaps connect up with a couple of Irish men who live in the city as they have been messaging me a lot lately.

My world walk blog new Zealand 18 - 20,000 kilometres walked

20,000 kilometres walked

 Iwalked a glorious 36 kilometres and finished near Huntley where I camped on the banks of the sacred Waikato river. I haf been following this river, New Zealands longest for a couple of weeks now. A couple of people told me that it's one of only two rivers (after the Rhine) in the world that flows upstream. Next day, Wednesday t'was a dirty drizzly day and I  made a big effort to get close to Pukekawa, 42kms away. 
After just 32 clicks, I had reached my 20,000th kilometre of this global odessy. 
Thanks so much to each and every person that I met that made this happen. That day I was twenty days short of two years on the road. Countries walked so far: England, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Australia and now New Zealand..
Please remember that life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives.
After walking through km 20,000 I walked for another two hours and came to a junction on Old Highway 22. There was a brightly lit building and a man called Thomas told me to go inside and ask for Terry, his father. Several men greeted men, some of them claimed to be of Irish descent, including John O'Brien. I was in the Onewhero Golf Club. These lads were were relaxing after their weekly  9-hole twilight tournament. After a few exchanges a man called Hoss offered me a bed for the night 😂
Back at his house, I had a shower while  Noeleen, his wife cooked me a delicious steak  dinner. What a beautiful and an amazing country!
41 kms today. Please see map for todays walk details.
The next day I was aiming for Drury, 39 kms away and Hoss took my pack on ahead!

My world walk Blog new Zealand 17 The immaculate conception.

The immaculate conception.
Once again, it was time for me to say goodbye to yet more wonderful people who have kindly hosted me on my global walk. This time it was Ger Sheehan and his wife Caroline in Cambridge. I got an escort out of town through a nice park where young children rode their bicycles with delight as parents walked or cycled alongside to keep them in check. My escort included my hosts two children Carrie and Kate, aged 5 and 7. Definitely, the laugh of the weekend was reserved for Kate who said: "Daddy can you tell Tony to hurry up because I want to cycle faster?"
As always it was difficult saying goodbye. It's so easy to make friends, but so difficult to just walk away and out of their lives. These kind people I met through an intervention from our mutual friend Maeve Hegarty. Thank you, Maeve and it was such a joyful bonus meeting two of Irelands rowing world champions, Mark O'Donovan and Shane O Driscoll, along with their coach Dominic Casey.
That glorious Sunday I walked my entire 25 kilometres on park footpaths and minor roads, such a joy. I wished all of the world's roads were like that.
When I got to within ten kilometres of Hamilton my old friends Roger and Silvia came out to greet me. Roger is a runner and a cyclist and walked the remaining two hours with me to their swanky home in a posh side of Hamilton. Silvia is making a comeback to running and plans a half-marathon after an absence from the sport. Cycling and running are also her main pursuits. On our walk that day Roger told how he met Silvia. He and his brother were in a bicycle rental store in British Colombia as they planned to cycle in a national park. Silvie who is from French-speaking Quebec just happened to be in the store at the same time but was speaking Spanish to help some Chilean tourists select their bicycles. She is also fluent in Spanish as her mother was Mexican. After taking a shine to Silvia, Roger just said to her: "You are probably going cycling to the same place as us, so why don't you just come along?" And the rest is history as she eventually moved to New Zealand and found a job as French and Spanish speaking interpreter.
It was great to be back, I also stayed with them on my world run. They are also great friends of my world runner friend Tom Denniss. When Tom was running across America, Rogers brother, Don who lives in Colorado provided a car for Carmel Denniss, Toms wife to crew him with.
At Roger and Sylvia's house, we were joined by their friend Rob Hammington. I was kindly treated to a bar-b-que in my honour. We had a great chat about old times and about my walk.
On Monday I took a rest day and enjoyed a coffee with Roger at a downtown award-winning Scott's Epicurean coffee shop. We spoke about sport, some of the local social issues and even about New Zealand's new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Aged 37 she is the countries youngest leader in over a hundred years. She is the leader of the Labour party who are in a coalition with New Zealand First party. She was drawn to politics when as a young woman she was perplexed by many social issues and the sight of barefoot children running around her native Hamilton. Mormon-raised she obviously had a rebel streak as fell out of favour and with that church when she disagreed with their anti-same-sex marriage beliefs. Eventually, in her twenties, she left the religion.
Many mischievous Kiwis have been at pains to tell me that she and her partner Clark Gayford, a popular radio host are expecting their first child. She discovered she was pregnant only six days before assuming leadership of the country. It was well known that the couple had been trying unsuccessfully to have a child and had even received fertility treatment. Doctors thought her chances of conceiving was a longshot. Then suddenly she was pregnant. During a gleeful press conference when the joyful couple tried to explain this to the assembled press she muddled up her words and said: "I just don't know how I got pregnant!"
You can imagine the laughter that greeted that!
When the baby is born in June Ms Ardern will take a six-week maternity break but will still be kept up to speed with the day-to-day running of the country which will be temporarily taken over by her deputy, Winston Peters. Aged 72, he is almost twice her age. Clark Gayford is taking a career break from his radio show to be a stay-at-home dad.
Ms Ardern is also set to be only the second elected leader to have given birth while in power. In 1990 Benazir Bhutto gave birth while she was the leader of Pakistan.

My world walk blog New Zealand 16

High-Performance Athletes and their coaches.
I took a rest day with Ross Steel, a long time supporter of the walk. That worked out really well as the weather was pretty wet in the afternoon. It is said "Life is a journey" and I'm certainly enjoying it.
Ross is a keen prolific marathon runner and as his name suggests, a man made of steel. He also has a novel way to decorate his Christmas tree, with his race numbers and the tree is still standing. We also enjoyed a visit to Blue Spring Park and followed that up with some good old fashioned fish and chips and a couple of beers. 
 Back on my route and before I started walking we had lunch together and had a nice chat with a man called Jim McAllister. His father was born in Ireland and he is obviously is proud of his Irish heritage for he went to a $700 expense to get his own "Irish 02" vehicle number plate registration.
My host, in Cambridge, Limerickman Ger Sheehan came out to me and I commuted forward from Tirau. Thanks to Ger and his wife Caroline for a wonderful time. She hails Skerries, Ireland. They moved here last March along with their two young daughters Kate and Carrie. They all love the outdoor life that New Zealand has in abundance. "When we arrived here at first our girls were going around looking at other children walking around barefooted, as is the Kiwi culture. They wondered why this was, because back in Ireland if people walked around barefooted they would be considered poor!"
"Naturally, our kids loved this, we all love New Zealand sports culture and feel so safe in the country. Many schoolyards have two children's play areas and unlike the litigation-conscious culture of Europe or America. Here if you don't want to get hurt you have a choice. "Don't play in the schoolyard?"
Caroline is a Sports Scientist and Physiologist and is now working for High-Performance Sports NZ where she is a lead Physiologist working with the New Zealand rowing team. New Zealand is among the highest achievers on a global level. There are four Irish rowers here at the moment and are gaining immense experience in a seven-week training camp. There are also many championship races they enter and that means that they can pitch their wits against their hosts and gain valuable experience.
Back in Ireland, Caroline was a Head of Performance Sciences for the Irish Institute of Sport where she worked for 18 years. She also worked with most of the Irelands leading Olympians over the last two decades.
Ger is an engineer and a Health and fitness coach and still loves rowing after getting addicted to the sport 30 odd years ago. He helps people with their physical and financial health also as part of their online Nutrition programs. He is proud of his wife and even said to me:
"Tony, the missus is a bit of a legend but please don't tell her I said that!" Indeed she is the reason they moved down-under when she was offered a job here. Ger was fortunate that the company he worked for also do business in New Zealand, so he managed to get a transfer.
Two of Caroline's proteges: Silver medal-winning Irish Olympians from the Rio Olympics are brothers, Paul and Gary O'Donovan. They are here on a seven-week summer camp. Coincidentally, also hailing from Skibbereen, County Cork and on the same summer camp is Mark O' Donovan. Despite Mark sharing the same surname as the brothers Gary and Paul and the three of them are from such a small town in Ireland they are not related. Along with their Rowing Ireland coach, Domnick Casey they are all here for warm weather training, far away from the cold Irish winter.  Paul also went on to win Gold at the World rowing championships two weeks after Rio and the following year in the Lightweight Singles in 2017. Mark and Shane O Driscoll rowed in the Lightweight pair category (one oar each) they won Gold at the worlds 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately, this is not an event in Olympics for that boat class. However, they plan to go up several weight divisions to make the heavyweight grade for the Japan 2020 Olympic games.
That night I had a great chat with Mark, Shane, Ger and coach Domnick Casey. The lads normally do two training sessions per day in their boat and three times a week they do an additional gym session. Much of their training is pretty much the same as a marathon runner would do including some speed and interval sessions. Their standard training distance is about 20 kilometres. Unfortunately, Paul and Gary O'Donovan were busy and I sure hoped I could meet them that Saturday after I walked the thirty kilometres from Tirau to Cambridge.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

My world walk blog 15 New Zealand

    Lake Taupo.

I spent four nights in Lake Taupo town and a huge shout out of thanks
to my host Steve Mcaneney for his incredible hospitality. He
transported me back and forth from my route and that gave me three
extra days baggage free walking and he told me to keep his spare key!
He is a mechanic, a swing bridge mechanic to be exact, so naturally,
he has to diversify and find other work for the town council.
Those days were glorious. One day I sat on a grassy bank looking out
at Lake Taupo, a majestic clear blue volcanic lake. I walked on
further and in Te Rangiita I sat and enjoyed a chicken salad sandwich.
Then I rambled along the banks of the lake and even down many
beautiful trails and a sandy shoreline. I stopped and had a swim as I
was in no hurry to finish off that 27 kilometre day in heaven. A 32
kilometre day followed when I finished about 27 north of Taupo. I
managed to walk about 15 kms of those on backroads where I walked past
llamas and stooped at a cow crossing. It was a nice change from busy
route 1.

Then a lazy Monday when I downed my four coffees. We are chatting with
his friend Sandy that hot 33C day. She asked me: "So Tony do you walk
fully clothed?"

"Well, Sandy I don't walk in the nude!"
Then Steve dropped me back to my route. I was not looking forward to
carrying my pack again as I have only carried it eight kilometres in
about nine days, so good have the people been and with three locations
to base myself from I was able to commute.
Refreshed I stormed to a two hour non-stop ten km march as far as
Atiamuri Village before lunching at a bus shelter, thankfully with the
oppressive sun at my back. I studied my map as Steve had told me that
there is a really popular backpackers accommodation called The Bull
Ring five kilometres further up the road. As I had so many messages to
answer it turned into an hour-long break. An hour later upon arriving
at the Bull Ring Cafe I paid for a fish and chips meal and enquired
about the accommodation. It was 55 dollars per room, per night.
Obviously, that's a bargain when there are a couple of people wanting
to share but not for me. When I asked Lance the friendly owner if he
could give me a discount, it seemed that he just couldn't do enough
for me. Kind man that he is, he not only gave me a complimentary room
but refunded me my dinner money. He also upgraded my dinner with a
salad, an extra fish and an energy drink. The Bull Ring accommodation
is not only spotless but spacious, luxurious and has a self-catering
kitchen. So, that night after my short 15-kilometre day I rested up in

Later I had an interesting chat with Lance. He wasn't always in this
business. Now 56 years old he worked on farms for 40 years, managing
for 30. The last job he had was managing a 45,000 mixed stock farm
(cows and sheep) When the farm was sold he wondered what to do for the
rest of his life. That's when he bought the Bull Ring. It was in bad
condition but he totally refurbished it. Now married to Paradee, his
Thai wife, they have a six-year-old son.
Lance is a stickler for detail and works extremely hard to get repeat
business. I was sipping a drink that man called Andrew bought me. Just
then Lance asked me if I wanted an ice cream, and of course, I did! He
returned with a super-duper sized boysenberry ice cream cone. "That's
what many of my customers come back for. I have gotten miserably small
ice creams in other places that I will never return to. To make an
extra large dollop of ice cream costs just cents, so why shouldn't I
give it to them?
"Its this same with our toastie sandwiches. We give three slices of
bread with our toast sandwiches, after all, a slice of bread only
costs about ten cents and they always leave feeling satisfied.
"There are a lot of little things that I do that customers notice. For
example, we never serve food on a cold plate, we always heat the plate
up before putting food on it as that keeps the food hot."
Then he told me something astonishing that I haven't heard before. It
seems that the New Zealand government has an ambitious plan to make
the country smoke-free by 2025. Yes, cigarettes will be totally
banned. I guess this is helped by the fact that the country is a
couple of thousand kilometres away from Australia, its nearest major
neighbour. There are a few Pacific Island countries which are
marginally nearer. There is good money in cigarettes as the cost of a
pack of 20 can be as much as 25-30 dollars and the cost of restocking
the vending machine costs 15,000 dollars fortnightly, with about a ten
percent mark up.

Come on Eileen!
I walked about two kilometres down the road and stopped to sit down on
an irresistible grassy ledge to check my emails. Just then a friendly
woman called Eileen came out to check her mailbox. She is originally
from Derbyshire in England and her family moved here seventy years
"I'm really a Kiwi now Tony. It's a different world now"
I got invited in for the coffee that I was longing for this morning
and not to mention a bowl of much forgotten Shreaded WheatI chatted
with Eileen and her husband John who is also from Derbyshire, they met
when Eileen's family went back for a holiday when she was 17. Upon
parting, she said to him "I will see you in ten years time as it's a
six-week ship journey via South Africa.
After many letters, he came out six months later and eighteen months
later they married. They just celebrated 55 years married.
After two coffees Eileen took the jar of coffee back inside. Jokingly,
I asked her to go get it! I noticed she didn't take away the jar after
that, but I did refuse a fourth! I needed to walk on, a lovely chat,
thanks so much Eileen and John. I always believe in slowing down and
to live in the moment. One parting comment from John: " Tony looks a
bit like my brother Frank!"
So I asked if Frank lives nearby.
"No, He is dead!"
So, I guess I look like death warmed up!
 I stopped for a snack at a shady entrance to a farm. As I was taking
off my backpack I got a smack off the electric fence I was sitting
beside. Not much, just an unpleasant jolt! That day I arrived in
Tokoroa town with 20 kms walked. After a stop in a Subway restaurant,
I decided to take a 14-kilometre route via backroads, thereby
bypassing the town and getting off the busy highway for three hours.
It was only a kilometre longer than the highway route. Later I camped
on a farm, 27 kms walked.

Monday, February 12, 2018

New Zealand 14

The Desert Road and reliving my 'Highway Cops' television memory from my world run.

Jim had offered to bring my backpack on ahead to Waiouri and meet me at an Italian restaurant. On the way, I met a man called Deejay who stopped and amazingly gave me his address and said I had a place to lay my head that night. Kiwis are so incredible! It was a pretty hilly day but I took it all in my stride. Poor Dermot the Irish cyclist I mentioned in my previous blog was having a hard time in the mountainous north island. Some other cyclists I met mentioned the same thing to me. I wasn't sure why, but I didn't find those hills as difficult as these cyclists did. Perhaps it was because of my slower, the more gradual approach. I have always loved mountains, they are in my blood and that's why I lived in Colorado for eight years. 
When I finally caught up with Jim and Raewyne they had a feed of fish and chips waiting for me at the restaurant. I gave the Deejays address which was in a military housing residence. They went on ahead with my pack. Jim, as ever was fast on the draw and joked to Deejay that he had only one Irishman that night whereas they had two!  
"Well Jim, the January sales and two for the price of one are over!"
I had a pleasant evening over dinner talking to my latest host about military life. 
In the morning he had to rush off early and I was told to just pull the door closed when I left. 
That took me to the start of the so-called desert road, a road that often closes in the winter due to excessive snow. It was a little hard to believe the extent of the winter here. Jim told me that they can't get their car in their driveway in winter and have to park it outside on the road. Another man told me about a walker who was pulled off the road by the cops because of snow. 
Just then the clouds darkened and it looked like rain was on the way. I had stopped at a sign of a Kaimanawa wild horse, named after the mountain range of the same name. These horses are a protected species and are usually highly-muscled. Their feral existence has enabled them to adapt to the harsh environment and to survive on very little. They are usually sure-footed and tough.
Just as I was taking a photo of the sign an off-duty police officer stopped and spoke about a rainstorm which was on the way. I had only walked eight kilometres, there was absolutely no shelter and as the area, I was in was a military training area camping was prohibited. In a flash, I weighed up my situation. I could go 55kms forward to Turangi and dump my pack in the Extreme Backpackers hostel. I could use the hostel as a base. That meant I could hitch back here and walk to Turangi in two easy days, escape the rainstorm and in the horse picture I had the perfect return point. 
The officer that picked me up also stopped for a Malaysian hitchhiker. As we drove over a short pass he told us that he was glad for our company as he had been up until 4:30 am filing reports! I had planned to return that day as the storm didn't manifest as the officer had mentioned. After a while trying to return to my route that day I decided to pull the plug on my day, eight kilometres walked, what a waste of a day. Instead, I hung out talking to people at the hostel.  
  Then I had lots of luck hitching to and from the hostel to my route. I walked two memorable days of 24 and 31 kilometres. That first day Alex the owner of an electrical maintenance company took me back to where I finished at the horse sign. He was on his way to Waiouri to install street lighting. As his company employed 28 people he arranged for a couple of his men, Jay and Larr to pick me up on the road that evening and to collect me from the hostel the following morning. 
On the road, a friendly woman from Perth, Australia who was on a short holiday stooped to check on my welfare. She thought I needed a bit of fattening up and went to enormous trouble preparing me a delicious tomato, salami and pepper sandwich and an electrolyte for the road. I sat chatting with her in her hired car. She was on her way to a rock concert.
 On the left we could see two volcanoes, Mt Ruapehu is considered active and last erupted in 2007. Just down from it is Mt Ngauruhoe which has been marked down as unlikely to erupt. Several movies, most notably The Lord of the Rings had scenes shot on the slopes of these volcanos. In fact, as I ran this same desert road in my world run five years ago I had my own piece of television drama!

 The following is an excerpt from my blog at the time:
"Next day, I ran the rest of the desert road, 60km of nothingness through Tongariro National Park with stunning views of the active Tongariro and Ruapehu volcanoes. Then I run through Waiouru I am about to call Gill to come out and pick me up at the end of my day. A cop car pulled up on the hard shoulder. A police officer got out and then a television cameraman. The cop mentioned that ‘they lost a driver' because a motorist didn’t expect to see a runner on the road! I was not sure if that meant a cop or one of the community was killed. I backed off from that conversation but I really wanted to ask why he was making problems for legal runners running on the verge and not directing his grief towards motorists for reckless driving. He told me I couldn’t run on the road after dark that night, I didn’t argue as I was going back to Gills that night anyway. The cameraman continued to film. Then the cop asked me about my world run and seemed to have a particular interest in South America, and the food there. His tone had changed, as these are not normal police questions!
”Bolivian, Ecuadorian and Peruvian food is the most disgusting food, I lost 6 kilos while I was there.”  when the cameraman turned off the camera I asked him where he was from.
”Ecuador! And you don't like our food?
Oh! Yes, once again I put my foot in it!
Then I realised that I was filmed for a police television show, a bit like the tv show Cops. Later, I got an email asking my permission to use the segment in the New Zealand show called: Highway Cops. Years later I still get messages from my friends back in Ireland and in many other countries to say they have seen the episode! I believe it's in the first season of the show.
I emailed the program makers and they won't give me a copy without signing a "no share" agreement. Naturally, I don't want to do it. Perhaps someone in NZ or elsewhere might like to keep an eye out for it for me and make a recording!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

New Zealand 13
Hurricane Higgins

On I walked through some more hilly terrain. It was damn hot, perhaps in the region of 27C. New Zealand reminds me a lot of Ireland, green, lots of sheep and though each of the two islands is roughly the same size as the UK the total population is around 4.5 million, also similar to Ireland. However, unlike in Ireland, the country is currently going through a drought. I'm also told that the whole of New Zealand can fit into the Australian state of Queensland 14 times, and that's just one Australian state, it just goes to show how big Oz is.
That day I was feeling the effects of my eight-kilo backpack and made frequent stops. A picnic rest area is always a welcome sight. 
It was about 8 pm with fading light and I was about 15 kilometres before Taihape when a man in a white Ute pulled up and asked if I wanted a lift. After a quick chat when I determined that he lived 25 kilometres up the road I asked if he had a garden where I could pitch my tent.
"I have a 150-acre farm and you are welcome to a bed!" Said Jim. I made a quick bookmark location on my map on my smartphone also, I left two water bottles in the drain for easier identification of my finish spot as i would be returning to that exact same spot in the morning. 
On the way to Jim's farm, he kindly said that he would return me there in the morning and I could also stay another night as the distance was a nice easy day walking without my backpack. I gave him a large crescent wrench that i fou found on the road. Rather than leave the tools that I find to gather dust I rather kick them out into the hard shoulder for someone to find. Other times like this I give them as a present to someone that helps me. Jim thought that hilarious and told me not to return the next day without a full toolbox! 
At the farm, Jim and Raewyne, his lovely wife cooked me a delicious fried dinner. 
When he was younger he culled deer, now he breeds them. 
Next day, I walked the remaining 23 kilometres back to the farm. I was excited as these last few weeks I was in contact with fellow Dubliner, Dermot Higgins to arrive! Like me, he is on a world journey. The man from Rush has cycled 23,000 kilometres since he started his long global pedal last June. He is also aiming to be the oldest world cyclist. While we waited, Jim, a man with a great sense of humour said "So why is Ireland exporting all of its old buggers to roam around New Zealand.
We had been communicating for several weeks and here we were meeting up. 
Dermot though differs from me in so far that he is a man focused on his finish, a couple of months further down the road. In that time he will be flashing across the USA. Me, I prefer to live in the moment and not a finish date in the distant future.
I thoroughly enjoyed our encounter but had to make a huge effort just to slow him down from his hurricane persona and to have a relaxing conversation without a rushed conversation! 

In his Go Go Dermo blog Dermot wrote:
"Earlier, Tony had sent me the exact GPS coordinates for James's deer farm but I still managed to miss the turnoff from the highway. Fortunately, both Jim and Tony anticipated this and they went out looking for me. A white Ute drove past. “Hey Dermo!” shouted a voice from inside and out hopped a sprightly figure in shorts. Of course, I knew who it was but I couldn’t stop myself uttering my version of Stanley’s famous phrase- “Tony Mangan, I presume!”
And so ensured our historic encounter! That day, Sunday, January 21, 2018, 8:55 pm.- a moment of real historic importance with regard to international endurance and adventure stories.
Here, on a lonely road in the interior of the North Island in New Zealand, the Irishman who is cycling around the world was greeted by another Irishman who is walking around the world with a cancer awareness message.
Jim and his lovely wife, Raewyne run a marvellous mixed stock farm with deer, sheep and cattle. It’s quite an amazing place with the beautiful Bambi like fallow deer, coming right up to the patio door.
Tony and I chatted long into the night, we drank a few beers while Jim prepared a huge feed.  It must have been strange for him to be hosting two strange adventurous Irish vagabonds in the same night but he’s led such an interesting and varied life and took his new role as gracious and generous host in his stride. It was another night to remember and one to treasure forever!
Next morning, Jim prepared a delicious fried breakfast and we chatted for a few hours, in no hurry to venture into the drizzle which had been falling during the night and which would gradually become heavier during the afternoon. 
It was after 11.00am. when the Irish walker and the Irish cyclist headed off, after our farewells, down the steep hill from the farmhouse to the highway. 
Tony obviously covers shorter distances than me, generally, sources accommodation in people’s homes and is much more interested in promoting awareness of cancer screening than he is in breaking records or raising funds.  We discussed tentative plans for our own further adventures.
We walked together for a while and it was interesting to discuss the similarities and differences between us. 
We both shared the same inspirational friend, -the legendary Maurice Mullins from Skerries, who died a couple of years ago. Maurice is credited with bringing triathlon to Ireland. His sharp sense of humour and generosity was fondly remembered as we rambled down the country lanes. Eventually, I had to leave Tony and push on northwards."
Yes, and I have my own memories of the great Maurice. When ultra running was in its infancy in Ireland Maurice kept the candle burning and even served as chairman or Ultrarunning Ireland. He was a selfless person and always there for anyone who needed advice. He was at the tail-end of his Irish career when I made my debut for the Irish team in the world 100-kilometre championships in France. My mother and sister came over to support us and rented a caravan. I hired a car and Maurice had us in stitches for the man could tell yarns all night long