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Kamloops doctor takes on 'Everesting' challenge along Highland Road

If you're going to scale Mount Everest, or at least the equivalent height, you need the weather to cooperate.

Although it was chilly when local doctor Lennard Pretorius set out during around noon today (April 13) to do the "Everesting" challenge in support of Royal Inland Hospital, he was happy the roads weren't wet.

"I don't mind the cold too much," he says. "The wind, it would've been nice without that, but earlier in the week they were predicting rain for most of today, so at least that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Compared to what we were expecting, this is not too bad."

The wind will be just one of many factors he has to overcome as he tries to bike up Highland Road 65 times, a climb of 8,848 m which equals the height of the highest mountain in the world.

While there's no time limit on how long the Everesting challenge needs to be done in, it must be completed in a single activity, with no sleep in between. That means Pretorius will be biking through the night, only stopping for food and bathroom breaks, so exhaustion and even boredom may also prove difficult. 

Fortunately, many members of the cycling community will stop by throughout the day and night to join him for a few runs.

He'll also be joined every step of the way by Francois Raath, literally. 

Raath is attempting his own "Everesting" challenge and will be running the hill over the next day. If completed, he would be just the second person in Canada to do the challenge on foot.

He's hoping to complete the run in around 20 hours.

"Things happen on these long events, so you never know what's going to happen," says Raath. "I've done various ultra trail races. The longest continuous I've done was 43.5 hours, so hopefully, I can tap into some experience and keep me going."

While Pretorius will cycle up Highland Road in the bike lane and coast down on the road (the bike lane speed limit is 20 km/h), Raath will have a driver meet him at the top and take him down the hill. Otherwise, the challenge would be too taxing on his knees. 

Pretorius says he chose this particular hill because of the bike lane barrier and the fact that it was paved so he could use his road bike. The proximity to home was also a plus. 

In terms of the money he and his team have raised, Pretorius has already topped his initial goal, collecting over $4,300 for the RIH Foundation. 

"I was thinking initially if we got over $1,000 I'd be happy.," he says. "If we top $5,000 I'd be super happy and even more than that would be great."

He's hoping as more people stop by throughout the day and evening, they can continue to raise funds for a cause the Thompson Rivers Medical Clinic physician thinks everyone can get behind. 

"My patients use it all the time and so will all of us at some point, if we live long enough in Kamloops, we're going to the need the services of our great facility so we might as well support it."

If you want to stop by and show your support, or even climb the hill for a few trips, they have a base camp set up at the entrance to the Valleyview Arena. To see if they complete the challenge, follow their Facebook event page HERE.

And of course, to donate to the cause click HERE.


Eric Thompson

About the Author: Eric Thompson

It's 2019 and Eric Thompson still gets paid to write about news. What a world we live in!
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