Walking the 12km from Oreti Beach to Queens Park in the Surf to City will mark a huge turning point for Invercargill man Ken Roberts.
The 65-year-old is eyeing up the challenge and what will be his first attempt at the BNZ-sponsored event, after a year in which he has made major changes to his lifestyle.
After years of relative inactivity and a series of heart events, Roberts has increased his physical activity levels, is more aware of his diet and nutrition, and is reaping the rewards.
He has lost a combined 30cm around his waist, is feeling stronger and more energetic and is eager and motivated to ensure his progress continues.
The changes have been spurred by a referral to Green Prescription, a service run by Sport Southland designed to encourage more physical activity.
Roberts has since joined other Sport Southland programmes, including Introduction to Aqua Jogging and Fit 4 Life - a 10-week introduction to fitness and food.
He is also taking part in sports he has not played for more than 40 years, and now that he has the Surf to City on his radar, he is more motivated than ever.
Roberts is not taking on the challenge solo. He will push his foster son Dominic Holden, 9, in a wheelchair the full 12km.
"I thought, well, I could do it myself or I could do it with Dominic in the wheelchair and that would give me more incentive," he says.
"I will need to be a lot fitter to push the wheelchair.
" I am finding, though, that with aqua jogging and the Fit 4 Life programme I have got more energy and it really helps with looking after Dominic, too."
The Surf to City will be held on February 10.
Sport Southland active lifestyles adviser Ann Robbie, who has watched and supported Roberts' progress, says it is an ideal event for people of all fitness levels.
"The BNZ Surf to City allows people like Ken, who have made fantastic changes to their lifestyle, to set a goal and work towards it," she says.
The Surf to City is one of the biggest participation-based events in Southland and includes a 12km fun run, walk or cycle from Oreti Beach to Queens Park, the 6km walk or run, and the Kids in the City event.
Entries will be open from January 9 and are available at Sport Southland or any BNZ branch.
- The Southland Times