All Aboard the Ray-train

By Meg Saultry

Long-time Benalla resident Ray McPherson not only broke a nine-year-old Australian record in the 1500m walk at the recent Australian Masters Games in Adelaide - he smashed it.

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

For the constant walker, McPherson's first proper 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,” McPherson 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'.”

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

“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.

“But when I realised they weren't, I had to get serious and start training.”

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

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

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

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

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 achieve, with a new record in sight.

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

“(Brisbane next July) is what we are thinking about at the moment.”