CHEK Upside: Retired nurse takes on walking mission to combat COVID blues

CHEK Upside: Retired nurse takes on walking mission to combat COVID blues
WatchSeventy-six-year-old Sylvia Macmahon is walking over 100 kilometres a week and isn't slowing down anytime soon.

Just over a month ago, Sylvia Macmahon began her walking mission.

“I’m trying to do at least 100km per week,” Macmahon told CHEK News.

Throughout her lifetime, the retired nurse has conquered an impressive list of challenges on two feet including several marathons, and just a few years ago she hiked the very popular Camino De Santiago: an 800-kilometre pilgrimage through Europe that dates back centuries and attracts over one hundred thousand people each year. This year, however, she had to take a detour.

“This year, I really wanted to do it and knew I couldn’t and decided to use beautiful Victoria instead,” said Macmahon.

COVID-19 prevented Macmahon from once again taking part in the Camino De Santiago, so the 76-year-old created her own personal quarantine-style camino. She tracks her progress with her smartphone, mapping out over 20 KM routes per day. Macmahon says the journey has benefited her physically and, perhaps more important, her mental well being.

“I live alone and I just need fresh air and some exercise… and what a place to do it in Victoria,” said Macmahon.

We first heard about Sylvia’s quest from her daughter Claire Watson who emailed CHEK News from her home in Tofino. During the first few weeks of the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions,  Claire admits she was concerned for her mom’s safety but says she’s always taken things in stride.

“We kind of nicknamed her ‘pocket mom’ because she’s so tiny, but she’s definitely a trooper. I mean she’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s seventy-six and she’s out there every morning, you know, waving at people on the street . . . and it’s good to have a purpose, I think,” said Watson.

“It’s my social interaction for the day, so it’s wonderful,” said Macmahon.

Being in the pandemic’s vulnerable category, Macmahon takes the proper steps to stay safe.

“Going in the morning is good because there’s less people around. we sometimes need to do a little dance to keep our distance but generally, it’s quite easy and I’ve gotten to know a lot of people on the routes now. it keeps me positive,” said Macmahon.


Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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