By Jennifer Hoegg
A familiar face will be out in front at the Valley Harvest Marathon this weekend.
Anthony Wheeler was flattered to be asked to lead walkers at Sunday’s start line, he said.
The New Minas man is well known to many drivers along the 101 who have spotted him on his daily walks between exits 12 and 14
“I do about 70 miles a week,” Wheeler said. “My wife treats me like an old dog: she takes me out to Coldbrook and drops me off and I walk home. On the weekends, I like to leave (New Minas) and walk to Frenchys.”
This has been a rebuilding year for his routine, as he works back up to completing his daily 13 kilometres in less than an hour and 40 minutes.
“Sept. 7 a year ago, I had a heart attack. By the end of the year I was back on the road,” the 68-year-old said. “I’m feeling great and I’m enjoying the walking and I’m glad to be asked to participate in this.”
His walking routine began on doctors’ orders. In 1995, the five feet, nine inch tall man weighed 329 pounds.
“I had the stomach stapling done in November of that year,” Wheeler said. “I lost my weight and one of the requirements of having the stapling done was to exercise 30 minutes a day, seven days a week.”
He went through eight treadmills at home and then joined a gym, but it burned down. Ten years ago, he started walking outdoors year round.
Many people are curious about the old ski poles Wheeler swings on his roadside walks. Wheeler says walking with the poles – Nordic walking – gives a full-body workout.
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“(Using poles) with normal walking, you burn 30 per cent more calories,” he said. “Power walking you can burn 70 to 80 per cent more.”
Coffee ups his calorie count every day. He has been wearing a vest advertising TAN
“They bribe me with coffee when I stop in,” Wheeler said. “I got the better end of the deal. I’m drinking them out of house and home.”
Besides, he said, “friends on the road honking is compensation enough.”
TAN is a sponsor of the 20th Valley Harvest Marathon.
Race weekend kicks off Saturday kids’ races and a pre-race pasta dinner at the Wolfville Lions’ Hall. Childcare Sunday will be provided by the Acadia SMILE program for participants who sign up for the service on the marathon’s website.
Anyone interested in the adult events - ultra-marathon, marathon, half-marathon, Nordic walk, 10 K and 5 K – should register soon. Numbers will be capped at 1,800 this year for logistical reasons.
All the details…
What: Valley Harvest Marathon
When: Oct. 6 – 2 p.m. Kids’ races
Oct. 7 – 7:30 a.m. Adult races
Where: Races begin at Acadia University Athletics’ Complex, Wolfville