Outdoor education teacher Dave Williams, who’s well on the way to scaling seven of the world’s highest peaks from sea level, reckons he can’t top Raglan as a place to live and train.
His personal sea-to-summit mission in seven continents – aptly titled Sea2Summit7 – has seen him conquer so far Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro, Russia’s Mt Elbrus, Australia’s Mt Kosciuszko and just last month Argentina’s Mt Aconcagua after turning back about 300m from the top in both 2013 and 2015.
But despite these achievements and the incredible birds-eye view of the world they give him, Dave’s still in awe of Mt Karioi and the running, cycling, surfing, kayaking training opportunities he gets right on his doorstep in Raglan, where he’s been living part-time since the middle of last year.
“I just love it,” the 30-year-old health and fitness fanatic told the Chronicle last weekend of his lifestyle here. “Raglan’s the ideal place to live and train.”
Living in Auckland from Tuesdays to Fridays is “okay”, Dave admits, because he really likes his job at Botany Downs Secondary College. But rounding the last corner on that drive back each week to the home he bought a year ago in Violet Street puts a smile on his face.
“And I (now) recognise everyone in the local shops.”
While this elite athlete hasn’t yet had the chance to tackle either the Karioi Trail or Karioi Classic, he regularly works the trail-running and cycling routes into his cross-training circuit.
Dave covers up to 200km each week to keep fit, he says, because to run from the sea to the summit of the highest mountain on each of the seven continents can be the equivalent of 10 marathons – or one each day – just to get from the nearest coastline to the base of the mountain.
But his personal mission is about more than just challenging himself to be the first person in the world to summit the seven peaks from the sea. Having recently lost two adventurous young friends to depression, Dave’s also set on raising awareness and $100,000 in funds for males through the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.
“Too often we try to tackle all our mountains in life alone,” he explains on his inspiring Sea2Summit7 Facebook page encouraging others to support the cause. Young men in particular are taught to deal with life’s issues by “taking it on the chin”, he adds, rather than asking for help.
Last month good mate and hunting buddy Mike Boston, a Matamata policeman, tackled Aconcagua alongside him to support his successful third attempt at the summit. “The whole idea (of Sea2Summit7) is about not giving up, no matter how tough it gets.”
This April the pair will also climb Alaska’s Mt Denali together, a challenge which includes five marathons and a never-before-walked glacier and brings with it a whole new level of danger. Soon after that, Dave will be based in Raglan fulltime to train up for Antarctica’s Mt Vinson Massif from December through to January next year.
His assault on the seventh and final peak – Nepal’s Mt Everest – is scheduled for early 2018.
And if Dave hasn’t reached his 100-grand goal by then he’ll continue to raise funds through corporate and motivational speaking engagements, he says, to get the message of support for male mental health out there.
If you’d like to follow Dave on his journey or donate to his awareness campaign for mental health head to: http://sea2summit7.com