All aboard the Ray-train

By Meg Saultry

Longtime Benalla resident Ray McPherson not only broke a nine-year-old Australian record in the 1500 metre walk at the recent Australian Masters Games in Adelaide.

He smashed it.

The 91-year-old broke a long-held record in the 90-94 year age group, which stood at 15 minutes and 30 seconds by a full minute and 44 seconds.

Thumbs up: Ray McPherson presented with his medal for the Australian record in the 90-94, 1500m walk.

For the constant walker, Ray's first ever official event came about when his son Justin joined the retired businessman on one of his daily walks to the post office.

“I've been doing the walk to collect the mail for years,” Ray said.

“It's about a 3.5km return walk.

“About 12 months ago, my son did it with me.

“He's got one of those fitbits, and said 'Dad, you walk this at a pretty good speed'.”

Walk and wake up to dementia

“He told his other brother, and they decided to look up the Australian Masters game.

“They said, 'We think the old man will go pretty well in the 1500m, what say we enter him in it'.”

“I thought they were joking.

Off he goes: Ray kick starts his record breaking walk, alongside other Games competitors.

“But when I realised they weren't, I had to get serious and start training,” Ray laughs, with the challenge to great to ignore.

What followed was 10 weeks of training, which included measuring two different 1500 metre distances for Ray to walk, in a bid to get his time down.

Walk to D-Feet MND

With his time, which started around the 15 minute mark, getting better and better, Ray said he went into Adelaide fairly confident he could beat the record, as he only had to beat the clock and himself.

“I got it down to 13.56 before Adelaide, then did a PB there,” he said.

“I peaked in Adelaide,” he said with a laugh.

Determined: Ray in concentration mode as he takes on the 1500m walk.

He was joined in the South Australian city by wife Paula, and a cheer squad made up of three generations of the McPherson family.

But Ray's achievement has only just touched the surface of what the man (and myth) himself can now achieve, with a new record now in sight.

“My sons have looked at the figures for the 2000 metres walk, and think I can beat that one too,” Ray said.

“[Brisbane next July] is what we are thinking about at the moment.”