The Daily Telegraph - Saturday 8 October, 2005

Wollongong walk on the wild side

IT SEEMED like a basic concept. People do it everyday. Nothing to it really.

As a radio announcer, I was telling my listeners how they could participate in the Annual Walk to Work Day when I accidentally nominated myself.

How hard could it be? Slap on some zinc, pour myself into lycra and jump into the sneakers.

Stroll to work, get a tan and do my bit.

Within hours of committing to participate, Walk to Work officials, sports retailers and local gyms were over me like seagulls on a chip.

Before I knew it I was conducting on-air interviews with Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby -- all of a sudden I had a personal trainer.

The Walk to Work People sent me a T-shirt, hat and pedometer. A sports store donated a $200 pair of purple runners with gel suspension technology, all-wheel drive and a hand that comes out and slaps you if you slow down.

There was no backing out, even though I live an hour walk from work, the forecast was for rain and there was a 90-degree hill on my route.

The personal trainer advised me to get eight hours sleep the night before, drink two litres of water and eat pasta.

I inhaled a combination satay and a Diet Coke, followed by three vodka and cranberries.

The day started well. Feeling rested, I downed two Weet-Bix, a banana and a Berocca.

My boss felt it would be safer if I walked with someone, so he organised a nightclub bouncer.

I felt like Britney Spears -- without the dancer husband and absent bra.

Tiny -- the bouncer -- and I set out on our journey. The first 15 minutes were quite pleasant.

The weather was holding, Tiny had just told me the fascinating story of how he got into the security business, and I'd clocked up 1768 steps.

About the halfway mark I was losing confidence. I was fielding mobile calls from family, friends and colleagues who feared I would become roadkill.

We powered on past the cafe strip but with 15 minutes to go I became ravenous and contemplated eating my Walk to Work Day eraser.

We were yet to tackle ``The Hill that Kills''.

Knowing the end was nigh, my survival skills kicked in and shot me a fresh burst of energy.

It didn't last. Halfway up the hill my shins were burning and I was puffing like the magic dragon. My life flashed before my eyes.

As my workplace came into view, tears of joy rolled down my cheeks -- Tiny was jubilant.

A small crowd of workmates had gathered.

My feet hummed, my face was flushed, my new runners were broken in and my pedometer read 7082 steps.

* Laura Salib works at i98FM in Wollongong

Column:  Opinion / Op Ed
Section:  FEATURES
Type:  Feature

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Daily Telegraph