By Peter Douglas
Belgrave adventurer Colin Donald has notched another milestone before his bold ‘Neverest Challenge’ in May, through which he will raise funds for the Australian Himalayan Foundation.
Despite almost having his leg amputated after a near-fatal motorcycle accident in 2002, Colin has fought back many obstacles on his way to his most challenging goal yet, the Everest Challenge, where he will complete a marathon along the unforgiving Mount Everest terrain.
On Saturday 25 March, he headed to the Dandenong Ranges and completed a 103km trek on foot, a test of endurance also known as ‘Everesting’.
Though, it’s a far cry from what could’ve been for Colin, who had his life turned upside down after the 2002 accident, during which he severed an artery and shattered his leg and pelvis.
“I suffered a near fatal motorbike accident; it got to the point where they called off the air ambulance because they thought I wasn’t going to make it … but I did,” he said.
“I spent eight months in hospital, then three to four months doing daily rehabilitation.”
Colin was told by onlookers on Eastern Freeway that his bike was clipped by a car, causing him and his bike to strike the rear of another vehicle and launch metres in the air.
As he lay in the Royal Melbourne Hospital, heavily dosed on painkillers, doctors advised Colin’s mother that his left leg had to be amputated.
Otherwise, he will not walk again, the experts told her.
Fortunately, she refused.
Before the accident, Colin was set to carve out a career in the Royal Australian Air Force, but those plans were over, and he struggled to cope with the repercussions.
“I put on 117kg after hospital, became very depressed,” he said.
“I was depressed afterwards for years, in low-spirits, not active … when I was 30 years old, I decided to turn around my life … I thought, ‘why can’t I change’.”
Colin attributes much of his life-changing pursuits to Berwick-based personal trainers, and brothers, Lachlan and Marcus Burke.
He booked himself into an intense regime of commando camps, boxing, kick-boxing and weights – up to three sessions per day – at the Personal Performance Training Centre.
With their help, he has completed a half marathon, as well as a Tough Mudder event during which he was pushed to his physical limit.
Now, almost 15 years to the day of his accident, he will compete in the Everest Marathon in May.
During the undulating 42km run, which will include around another 150 runners, they will finish at Namche Bazaar.
The rocky route features many climbs, including a 523m rise.
Colin said he expected this to be one of the greatest challenges he had faced, but also one of the most rewarding.
“We’ll leave for Melbourne on 14 May to Kathmandu; we’re only there for a couple of days where we’ll acclimatise,” he said.
“I expect the marathon will be gruelling, but the scenery will get me through.”