Phil prepares for his next big challenge

Hobart man Phil Menzie is preparing for his next, and biggest, challenge of the year… On Sunday 19 November, he will be taking part in what’s considered the world’s toughest half marathon; the Point to Pinnacle.

A man, Phil, is sitting down on a stage and smiling at the camera. He has his arm around his black Guide Dog, Yoda, who is sitting next to him.

Phil and his Guide Dog, Yoda. Together, they’re on a mission!

A client of Guide Dogs Tasmania, Phil was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a cancer behind the eye, when he was three years old. Over the course of the next three years, he lost his sight completely.

Along with his Guide Dog, Yoda, the 49-year-old has been raising funds during 2017 by taking part in a number of fun runs and walks. His goal is to raise $35,000 – enough to breed, raise and train a Guide Dog for another Tasmanian with a vision impairment. So far, he’s raised just over $1,000, but he’s hoping his latest challenge will see that figure go up.

“Yoda is my eyes, and without him I wouldn’t have the confidence to travel to so many places,” Phil said. “His help means so much to me, and I want to make sure that another Tasmanian is able to experience the assistance I’ve received.”

Three down, one to go.

The pair already have three fun runs (or walks) under their belt – the B&E Run the Bridge, Harcourts Signature Round the River and RACT City to Casino. But it has always been the plan to finish the year with something big.

“The Point to Pinnacle has always been something I’ve wanted to achieve,” Phil said. “It’s a little daunting, as it’s much longer than the walks I’ve already done, but I’m really excited to challenge myself in this way.”

Phil will be walking the Point to Pinnacle for ‘Guide Dogs Tasmania’ along with three other team members. And while Yoda is an essential part of Phil’s day-to-day mobility, not to mention his best friend, he will be giving this one a miss.

“While it would have been really nice to have him there with me, I decided it was going to be too far for him to walk, given that it’s supposed to be the world’s toughest half marathon, ” Phil said. “I’m confident that with my team and my Miniguide (a mobility aid that uses ultrasonic echo-location to detect objects) I’ll get to the top!”

A man, Phil, is crouching down next to his black Guide Dog, Yoda. He is wearing a bright orange tshirt and has a medal around his neck.

The pair have completed three fun runs already this year!

Along with his fundraising target, Phil hopes that by challenging himself he will also challenge the public’s perception of what people with a disability can and can’t do.

“I’ve never let my vision impairment stop me from doing the things I want,” Phil said. “While I certainly rely on Yoda to keep me safe in my daily life, I think a lot of what people can and can’t do comes down to their attitude.”

To help Phil and Yoda reach their fundraising target, you can visit their Everyday Hero page and make a donation here: Walk with Yoda.