A Calgary man is celebrating a pretty impressive accomplishment.
Mark Shupe has overcome some tough odds along the way, tackling a challenge that’s become a matter of life and death.
He has just finished walking along every street in Calgary, racking up 15,000 kilometres on a trek that’s taken him almost six years to complete.
“When I first started, it was just a way to get some exercise,” Shupe said.
He shared stories of his long walk with Lauren Mar and Jessye Pabustan, runners he met while he was out for a walk on a ridge overlooking Calgary.
“That’s crazy,” Mar said. ‘That’s a lot of walking – that’s amazing.”
Shupe, a retired accountant, succeeded on his massive mission despite suffering two heart attacks during the course of his walk.
“I’m very lucky to be alive,” he said. “It’s genetics – my dad had heart disease and an uncle died of heart disease.”
Sticking with walking has become part of a survival strategy.
“After the two heart attacks, the doctors couldn’t do all the bypasses they wanted,” Shupe said. “so I’ve got to keep walking, to keep the blood flowing – it’s a matter of life and death.”
He is now trying to help others, raising money to donate to the cardiology unit at the Foothills Medical Centre, where he received treatment after his heart attacks.
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“They told me if I hadn’t gotten to the hospital when I did, I wouldn’t have made it,” Shupe said.
He is now taking on another major challenge, which will keep him on the move for another couple of years.
“Walking all the pathways in the city — the bike paths, the walking paths,” Shupe said. “It’s not going to be an easy task.”
Mar and Pabustan were impressed that Shupe is carrying on despite facing health problems.
“It’s very inspiring,” Pabustan said. “Anything to stay active – it’s important to find something you like doing, and then it’s not a burden.”
Shupe hopes others may be inspired to follow in his footsteps.
“The message I’m trying to tell people is, ‘Set yourself a goal,’” he said.
“You can walk the streets of a city, of your neighbourhood, or you can walk around the same block every day and try to better your time – but just get out there and do some stuff and stay healthy.”
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