Meet the retiree who has climbed Mount Everest without ever leaving Murray Bridge

By walking, climbing and rowing each day, Stride 4 Stroke participant Max Merckenschlager has covered some amazing distances.

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Max Merckenschlager has climbed to the top of Mount Everest and rowed halfway to Sydney – all without leaving his home town.

At least, that’s what he figures, anyway.

The retiree walks almost 10 kilometres every day, up and down the gentle slopes of Murray Bridge’s east side, and uses a rowing machine in his spare room as well.

The distances he covered really added up, he said.

It might only be a 44-metre climb from the riverfront to the top of Avoca Dell Drive, but do it every day and you would reach the height of the world’s tallest mountain in less than seven months.

For the rowing machine, he set the goal of travelling 1300km, the distance between Murray Bridge and Sydney.

“I’m 24km short of Ouyen right now,” he said.

“I’ll get onto Tooleybuc after that, and on to the Hay Plains.”

A healthy lifestyle can save your life

Mr Merckenschlager’s efforts have already helped him raise more than $400 for Stride 4 Stroke, an annual fundraiser for the Stroke Foundation.

His main aim, though, has been to raise awareness.

Mr Merckenschlager survived a stroke eight years ago.

He counted himself lucky.

Although he lost many of his memories, he was still able to read aloud in the hours afterwards, and recovered the ability to put his own thoughts into words relatively quickly.

The death of an old school friend after a stroke provided a sober warning about what could have been.

Now he hoped his efforts might inspire others to keep fit and healthy.

At the very least, he has already inspired his wife, Jackie, who exercises alongside him at home.

She didn’t need any imaginary goals, though, she said – “my goals are things like ‘get this done before the tea burns’”.

How to avoid having a stroke

Strokes can cause problems with movement and swallowing, thinking and memory, speaking and understanding, vision loss, incontinence and behavioural changes.

But four out of five strokes can be prevented by living a healthy, active lifestyle and managing your blood pressure, according to the Stroke Foundation.

The foundation’s state manager, Luke Hays, said it was a problem that 12 per cent of Australians did not do any physical activity at all during an average week.

“I thank Max for getting involved in Stride 4 Stroke and leading by example,” he said.

“Boosting your daily moving minutes can make a difference to prevent stroke and other chronic disease.

“I hope his story inspires others.”

In an emergency, think FAST

  • Face – has the person’s face drooped?

  • Arms – can they lift them both?

  • Speech – is their speech slurred, and can they understand you?

  • Time is critical – call 000.

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