"That you may ruminate"

…On Walking Very Far.

Posted by Steve on September 1, 2008

According to legend, marathons acquired their name and peculiar distance because they began in commemoration of an ancient Greek soldier who ran from a battle at Marathon to Athens in order to deliver a message, then promptly died of exhaustion. Of course, Wikipedia casts doubt on the legitimacy of the legend both in terms of accuracy and ancientness. Regardless, there’s now a lot of those races and lots of people run them (and do not die. Maybe the Ancient Greek guy had fought in the battle and was already exhausted, or had been wearing armor while he ran?), although I don’t understand why they do. Both my parents, actually, have done it multiple times – though you’ll never see me doing it. Run 26 miles? Not unless I’m at Point A, I really really really need to get to Point B in a hurry, Point B is 26 miles away, and my only way to get there is on foot. Hiking that distance over awesome terrain (like a lot of national parks) or walking it for work-related activities, those are both fine. I’ve done those. It’s just that I won’t run.

Anyway, 26 miles is far. I realize there’s a select group of people who can and do go even farther in a single day, but for ease of math let’s just say 25 miles is the max on how far one person can pedestriate in a day – especially since we’re about to be stringing days together. See, I just read this, and one sentence caught my eye:

A few rally-goers planned to walk from Green Bay, Wis., and join up with Paul for the final miles of their Walk4Freedom.

.
To that, I say, “Daaaaymn!” For those of you unfamiliar with Wisconsin, Green Bay is on the right and Minnesota is on the left (and Minneapolis though close to the border is not on it). I’ve driven from Minneapolis to Green Bay and back, and it’s far. Also a little hilly. And snowy – or at least it was when I drove, but then that was in December and not Auguseptember. Anyway, Google Maps tells me that it is 279 miles from Green Bay to Minneapolis, which is 11 days at our stipulated 25 miles/day rate. Not something beyond most people’s annual vacation supply at work, but you’d most likely have to have been saving it up for awhile. Assuming you work on a 5/2 schedule, with the same two days off each time around, you could have your 11 days straddle your two scheduled days off twice, which would leave 7 days of vacation time for walking to consume. Like I said, you’d have to save it up and it wouldn’t leave you much (possibly any) time for the rest of the year, but you could probably do it.

You wouldn’t be able to walk much farther, though, which makes me wonder where people get the time off from work to walk something longer, like the Way of St. James or the Appalachian Trail. Or do the walkers on those routes skew towards unemployed groups?

At the moment, I’m curious about it.

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