Since 1987, Columbus’ Carol Bussell has walked the equivalent of here to the Grand Canyon — nearly 2,000 miles.
And she figures she’s got a lot of miles left.
“Doing this just gives me a spring in my step,” the 74-year-old Bussell said with a laugh.
As president of the Columbus Wellness Walkers Volksmarching Club, Bussell often takes leisurely 10-kilometer jaunts — sometimes two in the same day. The group believes in putting one foot in front of the other, all over Indiana and elsewhere, for the sake of fellowship, friendship and fitness.
“I think it is really uplifting,” she said.
The local group will play host to the association’s Mid-American Region Conference on Nov. 3 and 4, with 10- and 5-kilometer walks slated in Gnaw Bone and Nashville.
Bussell is among an estimated 400,000 participants in 300 noncompetitive walking groups nationwide, according to the Texas-based American Volksport Association. Volksmarch literally means “people’s walk,” and the average volksporter is a baby boomer in his or her 50s.
In this area, Columbus’ Charlie Chinn was an active volksmarcher throughout the 1980s and ’90s.
“We started out doing it primarily for our health,” said Chinn, now 84 and more sedentary except for yard work. “And I know it had to help us.”
He encourages others to try the Wellness Walkers as well as a separate, yet-to-be-named group that Bussell is leading at Mill Race Center for those older than 50. The walkers in that group tackle shorter distances, less than three miles per trip.
Mill Race Center Executive Director Bob Pitman sees a walking group as central to the center’s offerings. He said that walking often is the first choice of exercise for seniors.
“It’s generally the easiest thing for them to do and requires no special equipment,” Pitman said. “And we have such great access to the People Trail and to the park. So this just makes sense.”
Bussell made a face when asked if a treadmill offers her the same payoff as trips along the local People Trail, Indianapolis’ Eagle Creek Park or longer walks she has participated in from Wyoming to Hawaii.
“When you’re outside, you’re hearing and seeing so many things as you walk,” she said. “Everything is just so much more alive.”
She launched into a regular walking program with local volksporters in 1986, soon after she and her husband, Ron, moved here. She, like many others she has met, had no idea what a volksmarch was.
“When most people hear the term, they have a deer-in-the-headlights look,” she said.
Her first group walk was a 10-kilometer journey through Columbus — in 96-degree heat. She said she loved it nonetheless.
Whether people choose the Wellness Walkers bunch that travel to areas from Indianapolis to Louisville, Ky., or the Mill Race group, Bussell wants to see more people hoofing it for health and more.
“They always can try it out,” she said. “They can pace themselves. They don’t have to feel like they must go the whole distance if they don’t think they can.”
She laughed about the fact that the best part of it all might not even be the walking.
“We always stop and eat somewhere afterward,” she said.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!comments powered by Disqus
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.