Walking the Long Distance Walks

Nordic Walking Couple at Lake
Scott Markewitz/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty

Do you ever have the urge just to take off walking - and never stop? Taking long, long walks is part of our human makeup. Most of us are descended from people who migrated from place to place on foot. Today you can quench that wanderlust in many different ways.

You can walk for a day, for weeks, or for months. You can walk solo, with a group, or as part of a team. You can blaze your own trail, follow a 1000-year old traditional path, or tag along with 40,000 others on a designated route.

Across the Continent

People take on amazing quests. Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or going wild on the Pacific Crest Trail have new popularity due to recent books and movies. But you aren't limited to North America, you can walk across Australia. People have circled the world, and one did it carrying a 10-foot cross. Former Canadian Volkssport Federation President Ole Oleson and wife Helene walked from the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific in western Canada, and then across Canada to the Atlantic Ocean. They made as much as 40 kilometers (25 miles) a day. That's a marathon a day.

Camino de Santiago and Other Pilgrim Walks

Pilgrims have walked to venerate the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela for 1000 years. The 800-kilometer/500-mile Camino Frances route from France is very popular today for walkers looking for a challenge as well as those with spiritual motivations. Other Camino routes radiate throughout Europe.

The movie The Way has made this walk even more popular in recent years.

Ultramarathons and Death Marches

Ultramarathon runs and walks are growing in popularity. An ultramarathon is an event longer than a 42 kilometer (26 miles) marathon, and many are far longer. At the 100-kilometer Dodentocht of Bornem, Belgium (Dodentocht translates as Death March) welcomed over 12,000 walkers in 2015, double the participants it had 15 years before that.

Multi-Day Events

Walking a long distance each day for two or more days is a grueling endurance test. IML Walking Association events are 20K to 50K for at least two days, and the Komen 3-Day Walks are 20 miles a day for three days. These and others are hugely popular around the world.

Be a Centurion

People regularly vie to get the title of Centurion, which you earn by walking or running 100 miles in 24 hours.

Relays

Don't want to go it alone? Form a team for togetherness. Relay walks usually involve each person walking one or more legs of shorter distance - often 3-8 miles - and handing off to the next team member. The relay is all about cheering on and supporting each other.

Training, Planning and Surviving Long Distance Walks

  • Training for Long Distance Walks: How do you train to walk day after day or walk long distance in a single day? We have training plans and advice.
  • Planning a Long Distance Walk: Here is what to consider when you decide you want to walk a long distance walk. You will have to think about a number of logistics in addition to your training time.

Let's Take the First Step

What makes them walk? How do you join in these endeavors? How do you prepare for it? Let's explore the world of long distance walking.

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