Cycling fundraiser payback for heart patient

ALANA DIXON
Last updated 05:00 13/10/2012

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After a series of heart attacks, Invercargill man Murray Mason decided it was time to do something about improving his health - so he turned to cycling.

Mr Mason, who will take part in today's Great Southern Cycle Challenge - an initiative of the Invercargill South Rotary Club to raise funds for the Heart Foundation - said it was after having surgery to insert a stent that he began to change his lifestyle for the sake of his health, and cycling had been a revelation.

Lifestyle changes like adjusting his diet and exercise regimes had improved his overall health tremendously, especially that of his heart, and he encouraged others to do the same even if it was something as simple as parking their car further away from the supermarket to begin with, he said.

"Before, it was hard work to go 75 metres to the shop and come back and now I can ride 75 kilometres," he said.

"I never thought I'd be able to do 7 kilometres. It was a scary prospect at the start, because in the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘I don't know if my heart can take all this'. You don't want to upset the good work everybody else has done." In fact, his goal to better his health ended up being because he did not want to undo their hard work. "I think what's kept me going, apart from just loving the sport, is the people who did all the hard work. It's payback time . . . I feel if I hadn't changed my ways, all that good work they'd done for me would be a waste," he said.

The 150-kilometre Great Southern Cycle Challenge takes in a host of Southland towns, including Winton, Wyndham, Mataura and Hedgehope.

In its fourth year, the event - sponsored by Fonterra - is dubbed a mini Tour of Southland. Cash raised will go to the Heart Foundation to help fund a pilot programme to test every Southland male over 45 for heart disease. alana.dixon@stl.co.nz

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