Em­bark­ing on South Is­land walk solo

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - CATRIN OWEN

While many peo­ple will be hit­ting the beach on Box­ing Day, De­bra Bal­lard will start walk­ing the length of the South Is­land solo.

The Hills­bor­ough res­i­dent will fly to In­ver­cargill and start walk­ing the gru­elling 1300 kilo­me­tres from Bluff to Ship Cove in Nel­son.

Bal­lard will be trekking along the Te Araroa Trail to raise funds and aware­ness for Mo­bil­ity Dogs New Zealand, a char­ity train­ing as­sis­tance dogs for peo­ple with long term dis­abil­i­ties.

It costs about $55,000 to raise a mo­bil­ity dog and the char­ity re­ceives no Gov­ern­ment fund­ing, re­ly­ing solely on pub­lic sup­port.

Bal­lard, a Girl Guides leader, hopes to raise $5000 for the char­ity and has started a Givealit­tle page.

‘‘We had a boy with mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy come in to Girl Guides with his mo­bil­ity dog and see­ing the bond be­tween him and the dog was amaz­ing,’’ she said.

Bal­lard’s jour­ney is ex­pected to take up to two and a half months and she aims to walk 20 to 30km a day.

She has been in the gym most days do­ing a com­bi­na­tion of cir­cuit and strength train­ing and has spent the week­ends tramp­ing in the Waitakere Ranges and Ran­gi­toto.

But it’s not en­vi­ron­men­tal wor­ried about.

‘‘Be­ing alone is po­ten­tially go­ing to be more of a chal­lenge than the walk­ing. It’s more the psy­cho­log­i­cal chal­lenge,’’ she said. the walk en­gi­neer the is

Bal­lard will only take the bare min­i­mum of sup­plies with her to keep her pack light.

She has three pairs of trail shoes that she will ro­tate, one t shirt, one pair of shorts and wa­ter­proof gear.

Along the way she planned to stay in huts where pos­si­ble, and with eat­ing food you don’t nor­mally with walk­ing so long.’’

De­spite walk­ing the 1300km alone she was not con­cerned of get­ting lonely or bored.

‘‘Every­one I’ve met so far who’ve done long dis­tance walk­ing says all they do is sleep and eat.’’

CATRIN OWEN/FAIRFAX NZ

De­bra Bal­lard is ready to em­bark on a 1300km walk from Bluff to Ship Cove.

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