Every day except Sundays, Arrowtown octogenarian Max McDermid wakes early, eats a bowl of porridge, and goes to visit his doctor.
But he doesn’t see a local GP – he visits “Doctor Tobin”, otherwise known as Tobin’s Track, for his daily fix of exercise.
It’s the secret to keeping him fit, healthy and able to enter the inaugural Miner’s Trail race held as part of this weekend’s Motatapu event.
“Some days I feel very old,” McDermid, 81, says.
“So I go to Dr Tobin sick and come back feeling great.
“If you tell him how crook you are he says, ‘Use your imagination’.
“That’s what life is all about; you’ve got to have exercise.”
McDermid is entering the tough 15km off-road walk/run race with long-time friend and neighbour Hec Smith, 72.
The pair first met about 20 years ago when McDermid introduced himself to Smith over the fence and asked him if he wanted to join him walking.
“We’ve been walking ever since,” Smith adds.
Over the years, the men have walked to Lake Marion and the Gertrude Saddle in Fiordland, up Southland’s
Takatimu mountains and each year tackle more than 1000 vertical metres up Brow Peak behind Arrowtown.
Smith also walks Tobin’s Track regularly, but usually later in the day.
“We just wander up and have a look, there’s always something different going on,” McDermid says.
“I never time myself … it depends who I meet and talk to, like if I meet the local councillor and chew his ear off,” he jokes.
The new Miner’s Trail race begins at Tobin’s Track, on to Glencoe Station, climbing 600m above the start line via an old water race. Competitors continue along an original miner’s trail before a steep descent to the Arrow River, joining the final leg of the Motatapu mountain bike and marathon course to the Arrowtown finish line.
They’ve been doing a bit of extra training for the event, but “we’re not going to be breaking any records”, McDermid laughs.
“In fact, I might take a wheelchair and Hec can push me the last bit.”
The race, in which 350 competitors take part, also comes with a trophy that’ll be presented to the oldest competitor home.
With McDermid being the oldest entrant, followed by Smith, the pair joke they’ll cross the finish line together and keep the jade and gold trophy for six months each.
“We’re looking forward to it. We’re hoping we can do the full distance,” McDermid says.