Val Lewis Conquers Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge

The Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge always produces amazing stories of participants who register with an unknown ability to do even one of the sixty-eight climbs to scale the height of Mt. Everest using the local maunga of Titirangi.

The saying “you are never too old to learn something new” is very applicable to Val Lewis who is participating for the first time in the challenge with her workplace team Te Runanga O Ngati Porou.

What started as a wero team challenge to engage in a range of nutrition, wellness and fitness activities continued on to the Titirangi Mt. Everest Challenge. One of the wero challenges was to climb Titirangi 14 times amongst your team. Val’s response to this was “no way can I do this, I’ve never walked or run Titirangi in my life!” However, with her wero team mates together they took up the challenge.

Some, like Val, had never in their lives attempted the walk. At 66 years of age with her work team mates Val did her first climb of Titirangi. It was hard, there were many stops along the way but together they successfully completed their first climb. After logging her first climb and seeing that she also achieved a badge also provided the motivation to accumulate more badges. She is now sitting on 67 climbs with one more badge to achieve, Mt Everest!

Val has also encouraged her son and four mokopuna to join her in the challenge. Son Terry, and moko Norris (14 years), Jacob (13 years), Tyrone (20 years) and Connor (17 years) have all logged climbs as part of the Te Runanga O Ngati Porou team. Val says that the boys won’t walk with Nan as she’s too slow, but she takes pride that they are doing this with her and that they will join her to do her 68th climb.

Prior to starting the challenge Val suffered from asthma, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and painful arthritic joints. Now 6 weeks into the challenge her joint mobility and blood results are all remarkedly improved, she hasn’t needed to visit her doctor and managed a bad asthma attack without having to get further medical treatments. Her doctor has been really impressed with the positive results of her overall health improvements. Val has seen a big change in her general wellbeing. Energy levels are far higher, her mental state is improved, she doesn’t feel the same fatigue in the mornings, and she understands how important it is for her to get out and walk up and down the maunga to keep the balance she needs.

Along with the challenges of full-time work, Val’s partner also suffers from dementia. At times caring for him can be extremely frustrating. She has noticed that she has more tolerance and energy when there are tough days. On those tough days she now just heads out to walk the maunga and clear her head so that she can be a supporting and caring partner for him. Her eating habits have also changed with better food choices at mahi and home.

Te Runganga O Ngati Porou have really got behind their staff and whānau team to support this hauora kaupapa with weekly incentives to keep motivation high. There are 52 registered participants in their team, and they currently sit third on the team leaderboard for the Titirangi Mt Everest Challenge. Val is determined to keep her team on top of the leaderboard, and she has set herself a goal to complete 100 climbs. Regardless of whether she makes this by the end of the challenge on 13 November she will continue this journey until she reaches this goal.

“Val’s experience and journey to date epitomises what the challenge is all about.” Said Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti Events Advisor Debbie Hutchings.

“It’s about improving your own health and wellbeing, inspiring others, connecting with the community and achieving something that you never thought you could or would be able to do. We know there are many stories of people just like Val and just admire those that participate in the event and have similar experiences of overall improvement in their daily lives”

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