Tauranga man plans to climb Mt Maunganui on 100th birthday

Les Marsh has raised $300 for the Cancer Society by doing laps of his garden.
Les Marsh has raised $300 for the Cancer Society by doing laps of his garden. Photo credit: Sunlive / RNZ

Les Marsh plans to climb Mauao on his 100th birthday.

He is keeping fit each day by doing laps of the garden at Radius Althorp retirement village where he lives.

The laps began when the country moved to level 2 again and a lot of rest homes increased restrictions, this meant Les needed to stay within the grounds.

He does five to 10 laps of the garden and finishes it off with 50 standing push-ups.

"There's not many blokes at 100 that are silly enough to do this sort of thing," he laughs.

His daily routine has also raised $300 for the Cancer Society through sponsorship from staff and residents at the village.

Les could be seen as the New Zealand equivalent of the United Kingdom's 100-year-old Sir Tom Moore who raised more than £40 million ($NZ63m) for healthcare workers by doing laps of his garden.

Les says $300 isn't a huge amount but it's better than a kick in the ear.

His quest to climb Mauao came about after walking around the base track for his 99th birthday in January.

Les did the walk with his sons in memory of his late wife Hazel. They did the same walk for her 90th birthday so Les felt it was fitting to do it for his 99th.

Never one to shy away from a challenge Les isn't sure if he'll make it to the top but he's going to give it a go on 16 January 2021.

At the return of level 1, the first thing Les did was get out of his building and head off on a two-hour walk which has given him a bit of confidence to take on the task.

"I thought: 'well maybe I could get up the Mount'. You've just got to live one day at a time these days."

Climbing mountains is a bit of a tradition for him. He would climb Te Aroha with his son John every year for his birthday but at 82 he decided it was time for a change.

"I said to John: 'this is the last time we do this. It's too hard on your blimming knees' and I said: 'I wouldn't mind doing a marathon before I peg out'."

He and John ran five marathons together during Les' eighties, he took out first place in the Masters category for one as well.

The running family joke is I took out first place because I was the only one over 80 running the race, Les recalls with a grin.

His trek up the Mount might not win any records but he's determined to make it happen.

This story originally appeared on SunLive.