All Points West: You can go a long way walking
     2016-05-27      By Frank Marquez    editor@geringcitizen.com
Walking.

Most of us have been doing it since Year One.

In nature, even at National Parks, it’s called a hike. In foreign lands, it’s called a walk about. Call it whatever you want, all you need is the inclination.

Distressingly, with the advent of more sophisticated ways to get around – from the early days of taming horses to modern times in which the automobile has come to rule the road – walking has become less of a pastime and more of a task.

Phooey!

As the spring weather has finally emerged, I have taken to the road, leaving my car keys behind. In so doing, I recalled the times I trudged to Lincoln and Geil elementary schools, to the Gering Junior High, at times carrying football pads in a gym bag over my shoulder, and to the Gering High School even in inclement weather (yep, uphill in a snowstorm, both ways), and in some cases, because of inclement weather. Of course having a driver’s license and a working car, or a car at all, made a difference.

My walk begins from home. I follow the private road which skirts the irrigation ditch. I pass by Westlawn Cemetery to the left, and the barren corn fields and Five Rocks Amphitheatre to my right. The starting point is at a high enough elevation to see the entire valley, and on clear days the silhouette of Chimney Rock near Bayard. Some days, breathtaking. Crossing Five Rocks Road, I pass by Geil Elementary and all the baseball and softball fields to the Gering Swimming Pool – by the way, all good sporting alternatives to walking. There’s chatter from the young baseball players taking in an early morning practice. I wonder how many of them packed bat, ball and glove and walked there. I skirt the National Guard armory (come to think of it, the Army required me to do a lot of walking, but called it marching.), and emerge on Kimball Avenue to 10th Street, the main thoroughfare into Downtown Gering, and finally I open the front door to the Gering Citizen, 2.5 miles from home, according to Mapquest.
During my slow journey, I breathe a sigh of relief because I live in a town that’s safe enough. However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, don’t get caught in the middle of a country road, and keep your eyes and ears open.

It’s apparent that some of us walk more than others, so much that some of us decided to put our legs and feet to endurance and speed tests. Distances in sanctioned competitions range from 3,000 meters to the 50 kilometer men’s race in the Olympics.

USA Track and Field said race walking is contested at all levels, from youth athletics to the Olympic Games, touting it as one of the best ways to get in shape because it produces less impact than running. “Competitors must maintain contact with the ground at all times, and requires the leading leg to be straightened as the foot makes contact with the ground. It must remain straightened until the leg passes under the body.”

To think, this is also probably the cheapest sport. It requires no equipment other than a good pair of shoes, or no shoes at all. Training doesn’t need a doctor’s permission. Good fuel? Check nutrition guides. Last but not least, most importantly, is finding the get-up-and-go, the motivation you would otherwise have if it wasn’t for that 2-ton monstrosity sitting in your driveway. Like all your other endeavors, finding the time means making the time. Walking with a friend who will sincerely push you or merely encourage you, helps.

Now, there are no excuses as area businesses and organizations, in a plethora of fundraising efforts, have given you even more reason to start hoofing it. NEXT Young Professionals’ Spring Up the Bluff, United Way’s Color Dash, the Guadalupe Center’s Mardi Gras Run, the Don Child’s Memorial Five Mile Run, the Summit Christian College’s Summit-to-Summit, CAPStone’s Super Hero Run, and the Monument Marathon – don’t worry, there are more – provide ample opportunity to test your lower extremities.

Though some are officially called runs and competitions, lately, more events have begun to offer the option to slow down and smell the roses. Nothing in the rule books, if there are rule books for road races, says you need to run the whole way or for that matter, finish first or even finish at all. Any good coach would say, as long as you try. Or, as the philosophical Yoda of Star Wars fame would say, “there is no try, there is only do.” Either way, you win. You already paid the entrance fee (hopefully nothing greater than $100), which usually goes toward a good cause. You went as far as you could, or farther than you thought, which means your muscles and lungs benefited. If you cross the finish line, you feel even better because you met a goal. If it was a marathon, or even your first time in a 1K walk or 5K jog, you go away with a tremendous sense of accomplishment, and possibly a medal and commemorative T-shirt.

So, if you come up with a good reason not to, let me know.

Until then, I’m walking. Yes, indeed.

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