I hardly got any sleep the night before when, on a warm Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I awoke early, head pounding, ate breakfast, put on two pairs of socks, my Puma walking shoes, grabbed breakfast and my backpack and headed for the train – mile one of what would be at least thirty three I would walk that day.
For some reason I was looking forward to The Great Saunter of 2010 for months. After completing it in 2008, in what in retrospect was an incredible time, I was intrigued at doing the walk again, the 32.6 mile saunter around the perimeter of the island of Manhattan. While on Manhattan, few people get a sense that they’re on an island; the number of and height of the buildings, the congestion and the hustle. It truly is a world unto itself, a world unlike any island in the world. But Manhattan is an island. I know. I’ve walked around the entire thing. Twice.
This year’s walk was more difficult for me than 2008’s. Perhaps because my walking companion in 2008 set a steady pace and we kept to it the entire way, no breaks allowed. This year’s walk included more breaks and more people in my walking group. But we made it. It took eleven hours and twenty-five minutes compared to the nine hours in 2008. At the nine hour mark this year we were only in the East 60s, with all of Murray Hill and the Lower East Side to go (how did we complete it so quickly in 2008?). Towards the end of the walk, heading back to where we began, with the Brooklyn Bridge and the South Street Seaport in sight, when my feet and thighs and back were tired, I told myself that I have nothing more to prove. I was done with walking this walk. Despite the physical pain, though, I knew deep down even then that I could be talked into walking it again. It’s Manhattan and walking – two of my favorite hobbies since 2004. How could I refuse?