Polewalker Michael Gates (right), and supporter Meredith Pembroke, stride it out along Minjungbal Drive, Tweed Heads.
Polewalker Michael Gates (right), and supporter Meredith Pembroke, stride it out along Minjungbal Drive, Tweed Heads.

Polewalker raises $20,000

By ROXANNE MILLAR

ONLY 12 hours into his marathon 24hour polewalk on the weekend, it was nearly all over for Michael Gates.

At 2am the charity fundraiser passed out in Tweed Heads and fell onto the pavement, where he stayed until police following him approached to see if he was okay.

"When the police car pulled up and asked if I needed an ambulance I was like 'hang on a sec, we're only halfway' and got back up," he said.

With the stamina of a team of Afri- can long-distance runners, Mr Gates continued with his walk to raise money for Tweed Valley Early Intervention Service and the Premature Infant Parents Association.

Adding a swag of new lumps to his blister collection, he finished the walk yesterday to the cheering of dozens of supporters at the South Tweed Sports Club. In the 24 hours he walked 138 kilometres, took more than 275,000 steps and and completed seven and a half laps of a circuit from South Tweed to Kingscliff.

Hours after finishing yesterday he was still wary of taking off his shoes.

"I'm pretty tired. My feet are really feeling it...and the lower back," he said. "The good thing about polewalking is that every muscle works. Tomorrow I will go for a massage for sure."

Mr Gates said a diet of protein shakes, Gatorade and rice kept him going physically during the walk, but emotionally his worthwhile causes kept him focused.

"The hardest part came at the ninehour mark for me and then the 12-hour mark when I had a few problems there - my sugar was playing up and I ended up on the footpath," he said.

"But from the community profile it was quite energising. It was encouraging that people joined the walk and became sponsored to walk, and that the community got behind tooting their horns."

Mr Gates estimates he raised $20,000 through the walk and will be doing it again next year.

"It is great helping lower-profile groups in our own backyard," he said.

"You only have to look in the eyes of the children using these services and why wouldn't you want to help?"



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