Chris Cairns' toes may be killing him but come rain or shine he is averaging more than 30 kilometres a day walking in the name of rail safety and to honour his sister's memory.
The former top cricketer reached the steps of Parliament yesterday and stopped for a quick cup of tea with Prime Minister Helen Clark, completing the North Island leg of his march to raise awareness about railway crossing safety.
In 1993 his sister, Louise, was killed in an accident near Christchurch.
Since then, safety has become a "personal crusade" for Cairns, who established a foundation to teach school pupils of the dangers at New Zealand's often-unmarked rail crossings.
The charity walk began in Auckland three weeks ago and Cairns has been walking every day, clocking up 635km so far. He faces a further 366km walk to the site of his sister's death.
Cairns has wet-weather gear and six pairs of walking shoes, which he changes every few hours. "My toes are pretty knackered but it's a small price to pay. It's been more of a challenge than I thought," he said.
"The public support has been great and all these people have come out of the woodwork who have lost their own family [at rail crossings]. People have come out to walk with me as I go but I move at a pretty decent clip."
He said money was being raised along the way for the Chris Cairns Foundation but he was more focused on raising awareness - especially after two teenagers were hit at a level crossing near Blenheim at the weekend, leaving an 18-year-old in critical condition.
"The economic reality is that not every crossing can have lights or barrier arms so the public have got to be responsible. It's not rocket science, it's just an avoidable situation."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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