Birthday walk = 70 miles

Posted: May 10, 2013

The Winchester Star

Wayne Everhart of Brucetown walks frequently in Clear Brook Park. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Wayne Everhart of Brucetown walks frequently in Clear Brook Park. When he turned 70, he challenged himself to walk 70 miles in one week, but that stretched to two and a half weeks. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

Clear Brook — For his 70th birthday, Wayne Everhart of Brucetown wanted something only he could give himself, and it didn’t come with gift wrapping.

Some people like to hunt or play tennis. Wayne gets true enjoyment from walking.

He decided to commemorate the event by walking 70 miles for his birthday. Not wanting to keel over from exhaustion, he gave himself the leeway of breaking it into seven 10-mile walks, all taken outdoors in local parks.

“I thought it would be neat for my 70th birthday to put in 70 miles — one mile for each birthday,” said Wayne, who worked at Rich Products for 31 years.

The original plan was to do the feat in a week, starting on his birthday Feb. 19. But a visit from his daughter and some needed down time between walks saw him stretching it out over two and a half weeks.

The first walk was in Jim Barnett Park in Winchester, but he soon realized the hills would be too much for him to do the entire distance. So he switched to a trail in Clear Brook Park, where he enjoyed watching nature, other walkers, and fishermen as he went round and round.

The experience was a surprise for Wayne, who normally walks 3 to 5 miles at a time several days a week. It didn’t leave him exhausted or overly tired.

“The day I finished my 70 miles, I came back later that day and walked 3 miles with my wife,” he said.

Joyce, his wife, said she was proud of her husband, especially since she wasn’t sure he could do it. He had been going to the gym over the winter but not taking regular walks.

“I was proud that he said he was going to do something and stuck with it,” she said.

For Wayne, walking is both a time for exercise and meditation. It is a relaxing activity that relieves stress and gives him time to think.

It is also a way to spend quality time with his wife. Joyce admits she didn’t walk much before she and Wayne married 20 years ago.

But she started to join him because she could tell it was something he loved to do, and the couple try to go for walks about twice a week.

“When we were going together, we went to Winchester Park and other places and walked for the fun of it,” she said.

Their walks usually are only for about 3 miles and go at a slower pace than if Wayne were alone.

Joyce sometimes has trouble taking the time to walk, but knows when she does, it helps keep her more limber and her muscles from getting sore.

Wayne credits a lifelong love of walking with his good health and not being on any medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other chronic conditions.

“We also eat fairly well,” he said. “My doctor tells me whatever I am doing to keep it up.”

Walking isn’t a new activity for Wayne. He was born in Winchester in 1943 and lived here most of his life. He loved to walk along local roads and trails even when he was younger.

About 15 years ago, a few friends suggested he take up jogging and he trained for the Valley Health 10K during the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. But when his doctor told him walking would be easier on his joints, he didn’t have any problem settling back into his old routines.

He gives “God the glory” for not only the desire to walk but the health to do it and said he has no intention of stopping.

“Come out here 10 years from now and I’ll do 80 miles for my 80th birthday. I plan on that,” he said.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com