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Nikkei Chronicles #9—More Than a Game: Nikkei Sports

Virtual Walk Around The World – 40,075 km

(From left) George, his son Darren and his wife Tracy, their sons Kobe and his girlfriend Maegan White and Terrel came from adjacent Surrey and joined me in my walk.

I have often being asked, “Why do you walk so much?” “Don’t you get tired?” and my reply would invariably be that I love brisk walks and I hardly ever get tired. But now I too have pondered those same questions.

I believe my passion for walking started at a very young age. Being uprooted and incarcerated in internment camps during WWII and struggling for bare necessities to survive led me to recognize the values of health and money.

While still a young teenager, I started working in logging camps felling trees with my Dad to help out my parents and 9 siblings. All our work was by contract so we always moved briskly. I was always amongst grownups in the camps so I spent much time observing, analyzing, and thinking about my future. I did not play cards, cribbage, smoke, or converse much with the adults; I was still reading comic books.

As I matured and gained experience, I started to treat work as a challenge, regardless how menial it may be, and to do a neat and complete job. I soon became goal oriented.

My first near-marathon walk happened when we were notified that the Greyhound bus would be several hours late. I decided to walk home from the job site. I could not wait because I wanted to play baseball and I had to go back to camp the next day. I did not think about the difficulties in walking on gravel road wearing dress shoes and thin socks. I was hobbling with blisters upon blisters as I was nearing home but when I saw the bus cresting the hill behind me, I ran as fast as I could and beat it home, but only by a few seconds. In 2004 I went back and walked the route again to reminisce those days.

I also looked forward to walking on snow wearing snowshoes especially on open rolling hills. I have logged many miles during my working years. One winter weekend I climbed up the steep open side of the mountain to reach the peak where the fire lookout tower was located. I used snowshoes where it was safe but mostly it was climbing the rugged cliffs and trudging through waist deep snow. By the time I reached the top, it was getting dark and too late to get down so I slept in the cabin. In the early morning I climbed up the tower and when I saw the beautiful sunrays spread out over the peaks in the clear blue sky, it was so breathtaking that I soon forgot about my hunger and cold that I had endured sleeping with only two ground sheets for bed cover.

I always walked alone, not because I don’t enjoy company, but because others would want to talk and that would slow me down. I also didn’t know how far I would be walking and with a companion I would need to adjust my distances accordingly. When I was still in my seventies, I would walk 10 miles without resting and everybody walking was in my way. But now I’m in everybody’s way and they all pass me.

Nearing my home from about a 12-mile walk, I noticed a policewoman pointing her radar gun at me so I walked up and jokingly asked her if she was going to ticket me for speed walking. She said, no, and that I was going 3.34 mph. I was surprised that the device could measure even walking speed.                

For me the most satisfying moments are when I am able to help people in distress and during my walk I have come upon instances where I was able to assist. I had been an Industrial First Aid Attendant during my logging years so the need to help never left me. There were several other interesting incidents worthy of reporting to proper authorities, so addictive walking is really not boring.

In 1999 when I decided to record my walks, I only did it as a matter of curiosity to see how many miles I walked in a day, in a month, in a year. I definitely did not want to get obsessed as it would then ruin my remaining retirement years with damaged knees or back problems. So it remained a casual brisk walking exercise with no ultimate goal.

But at the end of 2017, when I noticed how close I was to walking the distance equivalent to the circumference of our earth, I decided to set that as my goal and to complete it by year 2020.`

With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic the sidewalks became quieter and people stayed home. Some would gather at huge parking lots for social chats but I continued walking my various routes. Rain, snow, or shine I was walking almost everyday. The pandemic did not affect my mission except for the use of washrooms.

The last several weeks were tiring, boring, and walking was no longer a pleasure; with a goal to meet I was forcing myself to go beyond enjoyment. And even enduring the hot weather and the smoke that permeated the air from huge fires in the USA, I was walking everyday, 6.4 km in the daytime and also 6.4 km in the evening (total 8 miles).

Thur, Sept. 17, 2020

This morning I walked to A&W and back to add 3.2 km to give me a grand total of 40,075 km (24,901 miles)! I finally reach my goal! What a relief!


I was age 67 when I started this portion of my walk. I am now 88 years old. I still need to have my daily walk but for enjoyment only and the distance will be 2 to 3 miles.

For my next project I thought of writing my life history titled, “My Life History in a Nutshell.” The booklet will include my work, my health, and my wellbeing. I will sell it cheap and if there is any money in it, most would be donated to a children’s charity fund. It will be published on my 100th birthday. Then when I’m asked what my secret to longevity is, my answer would be, “Read My Book”…..just dreaming….

My final thoughts:

Some people have climbed Mt Everest more than once.

Would anybody walk 40,075 km more than once?

I know I won’t.

*Author's note: All my walking routes were ‘measured’ by pacing, timing, and confirming by driving the courses. I also tried a pedometer but it always gave higher readings so I stopped using it.

 

© 2020 George Doi

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About this series

With most major sporting events, including the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, either cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are missing the experience of live sports. For this edition of Nikkei Chronicles, we invite you to share stories about Nikkei sports. It is our hope that sharing thoughts and recollections of pastimes that we love can help to unite and comfort us during a difficult time.

What makes Nikkei sports more than just a game for you? Perhaps you’d like to write about your Nikkei sports hero or the impact of Japanese athletes on your Nikkei identity. Did your parents meet through a Nikkei basketball or bowling league? Are you intrigued by an important chapter of Nikkei sports history, like the prewar Issei and Nisei baseball teams?

Read the Nikkei Sports stories and help select the Nima-kai community favorite >>

The last day to vote is NOVEMBER 30.

* Submissions for Nikkei Sports closed on October 31. Thank you very much to everyone who submitted stories!

Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series >>


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