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Aussie Pole Walkers power along the pathways of France:

A natural progression you could call it to combine your love of hiking in the outdoors, and pole walking, the two combine seamlessly. So when the idea arose for Steve & Gail Biggs to do a walking holiday, it didn't take long to reach the conclusion that the famous pilgrimage walk "the Camino de Santiago de Compostela" which starts in France and finishes some 1900klm later in Spain would fit the bill. With stunning scenery; challenging terrain; a different cultural and language and a sense of history walking the path millions of pilgrims have taken since the 9th century.

After a wonderful few days spent in Paris in the midst of Rugby World Cup fever, they travelled by train to the south central region of France to begin their pole walking adventure.

They started in the medieval town of Le-Puy En Velay in the "Massif Central", a high mountain region in France. Because of time constraints, they mapped out a route of approximately 280 klms, to finish the walk in the beautiful French town of Figeac. Their walk took 12 days averaging 24klms per day and was all very well way-marked. Travelling along various tracks and paths, with spectacular scenery, meandering through many small French villages Steve & Gail stayed in various accommodation places from B&Bs (Gites) to Monasteries, and found the French people to be most gracious and hospitable.

Their walking poles proved to be invaluable, as they carried all their total belongings in backpacks. The poles made the hilly terrain much easier to conquer, and improved our stability greatly on the uneven surfaces.

We look forward with great anticipation, to continuing our journey on the ‘Camino' walk plus taking our new founded trusted friends along with us in our walking poles.

Passionate Pole Walkers Profile:

Meredyth Pembroke

"Powering through life on poles" is what this lady is all about. Meredyth was introduced to pole walking back in 2002 by her Pole Walking mentor/coach Mike "Walking Wizard" Gates. Mike has since empowered Meredyth to ‘never look back' as she pushes through many of life's challenges with a lot more positive energy and power.

Meredyth is fit, fabulous and in her early 50's. Not a bad achievement for this mum and grandmother, who is now living life to its fullest thanks to being fitter, with less body fat than what she had in her early 20's. This dynamic lady currently holds down a full-time job plus several part-time jobs, as well as giving generous motherly assistance to her 4 daughters, plus taking regular care of her two grand-children - one of whom has special needs.

Meredyth has conquered many challenges in life, but she always powers over the top of them and she places all the credit to the power of the poles. In recent years, she has been heavily involved with assisting her mentor & coach through his various world record-breaking feats in pole walking. In May 2006, Mike decided to return the support by encouraging her to be the first woman ever to Pole Walk 24 hours Non-Stop in Finland, the birthplace of Pole Walking. Meredyth accepted this challenge with a gleam in her eye. Why?, you may ask. This gave Meredyth the greatest opportunity of all, as it was not about her and a world record; it was about being able to inspire women all over the world of all ages. She wanted to demonstrate that women can be like a "sensational bottle of red wine", where you can get better as you mature. Her life's passion is she wants to show women – that through the "Power of the Poles" they can stay "forever healthy, active and young in spirit".

PoleAbout Ultra Sports Walking Team conquer the Adelaide City to Bay Fun Run/Walk:

As the dawn broke over the city of churches, the Adelaide sky promised a day of rain and wind. The early morning silence of the city was broken by another noise... that of thunder on the pathways. This was the footsteps of 24,000 people who travelled from far and wide to compete in the annual Adelaide City to Bay Fun Run/Walk.

The Adelaide locals noticed the presence of an elite-looking walking team, all decked out, with uniform and walking poles to suit. The PoleAbout Ultra Sports Walking Team made the journey from the sunny Tweed–Gold Coast to join up with some of the local Pole Walking Coach colleagues for this year's event. It was the first time Pole Walkers have been allowed to participate in this event.

The team comprised of Meredyth Pembroke, Jay Gates, Bob Townsend, Jerry Bliss, Dale Hansen, Donna Walkley and Norman Trubik. After being allocated to start last, at the rear of all other runners and walkers, the boys and girls of the team took off at a blistering pace, dodging and weaving as they rapidly approached and consumed the other competitors and left them in their stride. The official course was a length of 12 kilometres, but may have been artificially extended an extra 2-14kms, due to the pole walkers having to take many side steps along the way to get past the thousands of slower race participants.

All the Pole Walkers did exceptionally well, with all achieving their personal best times. This is fantastic considering all the upfront slow traffic they had to pass along the course route. Meredyth and Jay came in under 1hr 30mins for the 12km + course, with Jerry, Bob and Dale hot on their heels, closely followed by Norm and Donna within their sights. Now that's really moving!!!! Wow, there's definitely some power in those poles... Also many thanks must be extended to the PoleAbout Roadies Team of Barbara Bliss, Janine Townsend and Ray Bell for their tireless & tremendous support for the walk team over the weekend.

Happy Feet in warmer weather:

The main foot problem during the summer months is perspiration. The waste matter, which is secreted with sweat, has to be removed by daily washing, to eliminate foot odour and to give your feet that fresh and clean x - factor.

While bathing, all body parts should be scrubbed and washed well, especially the areas where germs tend to accumulate. The feet are one of these places. Pay special attention to your feet while bathing. After washing them well, dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes, and apply talcum powder.

If you regularly wear closed-in shoes, some form of talcum powder can be sprinkled inside the shoes. However, in the hot season, slip-ons and open sandals are best worn when not being physically active, as they allow for maximum ventilation, help the perspiration evaporate and allow your feet to breathe.

But remember, open footwear attracts dirt and, therefore, foot hygiene becomes all the more important. After a hot day, soak your feet in cold water to which some salt has been added.

A foot problem called 'Athlete's Foot' or 'tinea pedis' develops more easily during the hot and humid weather because it thrives on soggy skin that is kept in moist socks and enclosed in shoes. If neglected, it can become a stubborn problem, with a fungal, itchy and soggy condition. Athlete's Foot normally starts as a fungal infection.

So, if there's dry scaling on the feet, especially between the toes, with some itching, you may wish to consult a dermatologist without delay. Or even consult your local Chemist, as some anti-fungal preparations can be effective in dealing with the problem in the initial stages.

In the hot and humid season, the feet should be exposed to the air as much as possible. But on the downside to exposing feet in summer, when the weather is dry, cracked heels are quite common. Dry weather not only causes depletion of moisture, but also hampers proper blood circulation to the extremities. The skin of the feet suffers as a result.

The skin on the heels is harder and thicker than most other parts of the body. Cracked heels can be prevented by giving the feet daily care, by way of massaging the skin with certain creams and protecting them from dryness. Its best to consult your Chemist on recommendations for the problem, as it can normally be tackled with proper foot care.

A one-week intensive treatment may help to keep the skin of the feet in good condition. At night, before retiring, soak the feet in warm water for about 20 minutes. Add some coarse salt and a gentle shampoo to the water before soaking the feet. Warm water helps to soften the dead skin on the heels. With the help of a pumice stone or a heel scrubber, rub the heels gently, in order to remove the dead cells. If there is any pain, avoid using a coarse scrubber and seek professional medical advice.

After washing the feet, massage with a professionally recommended cream, rubbing it into the skin. Take a rich moisturising cream and apply it generously on the heels. One trick that can work is to bandage the heels with cheesecloth, or cotton wool and surgical gauze, then wear cotton socks and go to sleep.

This way, the cream will remain on the heels and not get on to the bedclothes. Keeping the heels smeared with cream all night softens the skin and replenishes moisture loss.

Summer is brutal on feet, as people are more active outside and may be wearing improper shoes or, sometimes, no shoes at all. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk and to treat warm-weather foot problems, such as athlete's foot, fungus of the feet and nail fungus during summer. An increase in blisters may occur because people start new walking & jogging programs without wearing the proper footwear.

Some common summer foot problems and how to reduce your risk:

Keep them clean

There is more foot and nail fungus around, largely because many people slip on dirty shoes to work outside on their lawn and garden. Many of these sweaty, dirty shoes aren't cleaned and are kept in damp, dark garages where fungus soon grows.

Shoes should be replaced if they are beaten up. If the shoes remain in good condition but are dirty, wash them in the washing machine with an anti-fungal liquid and let them dry in the sun.

Always wear socks with the shoes to reduce skin contact with fungus and to reduce friction that may lead to blisters.

Remember sunscreen

Don't forget to apply sunscreen to the top of your feet - people often forget to apply sunscreen there.

Medical professionals suggest you wear pool shoes or slip-ons in public showers and locker rooms, as the humidity, combined with the variety of people who use these areas, mean the floors can be a hotbed for fungal growth. This can lead to athlete's foot and viruses, which may lead to warts.

A virus may find its way through an opening in the skin, causing a wart. People whose resistance to viruses is low are more susceptible to warts.

Summary of the common summer foot problems are:

Athlete's foot

  • Flaky, dry, cracked, itchy skin.
  • Caused by warm, dark, humid environment that encourages fungal growth. May be contracted in locker rooms, shower rooms, dressing rooms and hotel rooms.
  • Reduce your risk by inspecting your feet for unusual growths; keeping shoes and socks dry; washing feet with soap and water and drying regularly, including between the toes; changing shoes regularly; and wearing slip-ons in public showers.
  • Consider moisturising skin (but not between the toes) with over-the-counter topical medications recommended by your chemist.


  • Painful, fluid-filled lesions caused by ill-fitting or stiff shoes, wrinkled socks, excessive moisture or foot deformities.
  • Reduce your risk by keeping feet dry and wearing socks with properly fitting shoes.
  • Do not pop a blister. Treat a mild blister with soap and water, cover with an antiseptic ointment and a protective dressing, and use padding such as moleskin to reduce friction. If the blister becomes large and painful, carefully open a corner of the blister closest to the bottom of the foot with a sterilized needle, drain, apply antibiotic cream and cover with a bandage.

Fungal nails

  • Thickened, discoloured, loose or deformed toenails.
  • Often starts in the skin as athlete's foot, then spreads to the nails. May also be inherited or caused by a medical condition, such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer and psoriasis.
  • Reduce your risk by trimming toenails straight across, keeping shoes and socks dry, washing and drying feet daily, changing shoes regularly, and wearing acrylic or cotton socks.
  • Ask a podiatrist or doctor about special treatment.

Foot odour

  • Sweaty, smelly feet that do not itch nor appear to have a rash. The medical term is bromohidrosis.
  • Caused by increased bacteria on the skin and closed shoes that allow bacteria to grow.
  • Reduce your risk by keeping shoes and socks dry; washing feet daily with soap and water and drying thoroughly, especially between the toes; changing shoes regularly; and wearing socks that wick away moisture.
  • Rub cornstarch or special foot odour powders directly on the soles of the feet or apply into shoes.

What's the Walking Wizard Been up to?

Wow, the Walking Wizard has been busy with many things during the last months of spring and into the early summer, with just a few things listed below:

  • He has again been on his walkabout with PoleAbout travelling up and down the eastern seaboard and across the great southern land and onto the western plains of Oz. He's been to many unknown towns and regions educating in excess of a 150 coaches and leaders in the past several months. Now that these keen individuals have become successfully accredited by Mike and are warmly welcomed into the PoleAbout International Network, they to can go out n' about and spread the infectious virus of walking with poles to many communities within our great land.
  • During the weekend of 13th -15th October, Mike presented at the Australian Conference of Sports Medicine & Science with the concept of the "World's Smartest Way to Walk"... adding poles to the walking process. His lecture was attended by a professional audience of Sports Physicians, Sports Scientists, Sports Physiotherapists and Sports Podiatrists who warmly welcome this innovative way to walk.

  • Plus the Walking Wizard is back doing some serious training (read on below)

Join the THUNDER DOWNUNDER ON THE POLES in 2008 on the Gold Coast- Tweed in Australia:

Watch out for the assault on 3 Pole Walking World records that look like they will tumble in the months of April & May 2008 (More info in the New Year).

Jay Gates to attempt to break his own Non-stop 36 hour Pole Walk

Walking Wiz will attempt to break the Non-Stop 24 hour World Record in uncontrolled environment for weather and course terrain in the men's category

Meredyth Pembroke will also attempt to break the same as the Walking Wiz, but in the female's category

On the first weekend in May 2008, the Walkfest weekend will also be happening again with the "Go Walkabout n' PoleAbout" Kids Charity Fundraising Walking Challenge. You and your loved ones and walking buddies are all invited to come and participate - either walking with poles or without poles at this awesome Walkfest party weekend. This invitation is warmly extended to all individuals in regional, rural and national Australia and to any interested international fellow walkers, with or without poles. There will be non-stop timed categories of 3 hours, 6 hours, 9 hours and 12 hours.

So you all better start planning your trip and training for this event. This is a not-to-be-missed national & international fun Pole/Walk event for any age or ability. (More info early New Year).

  • We will be extending a personal invitation to the two legends of modern Pole Walking, that being the father of walking with poles, Tom Rutlin of Exerstrider USA, & the son of Pole Walking, Marko Kantaneva of PoleAbout Finland.
  • Please note the diary date for the 2008 "Go Walkabout n' PoleAbout" Walkfest Party weekend is the Friday 2nd to Sunday 3rd May 08.
  • And there will be even more and more steps to be taken in 2008, so you will just have to stay tuned.

It will soon be Christmas:

Trading Christmas food consumption for Christmas footsteps

When you sit down for the traditional Christmas lunch this year, you may wish to consider some things before you tuck-in to all the food that is put in front of you.

How many steps does it take to burn it off...?

  • Roast Dinner with medium portions of roast pork, carrots, beans and roast potatoes = 15,775 Steps
  • Mixed nuts = 6,075 Steps
  • Baked potato = 4,950 Steps
  • Pot of beer = 4,075 Steps
  • Glass of red wine = 3,125 Steps
  • Snickers chocolate bar = 7,775 Steps
  • Glass of white wine = 2,175 Steps
  • Can of Coke = 3,475 Steps
  • Kit Kate (one finger) = 1,525 Steps
  • Cafe latte with full cream milk = 6,500 Steps
  • Green salad with French dressing = 3,050 Steps
  • Magnum ice cream = 6,500 Steps

Now this has definitely got me thinking, and I love walking!! ... What are YOU thinking now about the Christmas pudding?

Last minute ideas as Christmas gifts; why not focus on the greatest gift of all the gift of good health through walking. Some suggestions:

  • The gift of a pair of walking poles
  • The gift of a good pair of walking socks
  • The gift of sun smart walking sunscreen or hat or sun glasses
  • The gift of a hydration pack or a bum-bag & water bottle
  • The gift of a good pair of walking shoes
  • The gift of a pedometer to measure progress
  • The gift of a headlamp for night walking
  • The gift of a heart rate monitor to measure progress
  • The gift of warmer walking wear if your expecting a white Christmas
  • Or one of the greatest walking gifts of all become someone's walking buddy

All of us at Team PoleAbout would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families the merriest of cheer and good fun at this special time of year - the Christmas festive season - and a very happy, safe and productive New Year... especially while you're out about walking with your poles, wherever you may live.

Take care and pole well...

Warmest Regards

Mike Gates ‘The Walking Wizard'

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