Australia, Beach & Coastal Walking, Urban Walking
Comments 9

The Thousand-Mile Mania

Well, it’s all over.

My job, but more importantly, my version of the Thousand-Mile Challenge I started in August. Greg at Hiking Fiasco told me about the idea that emerged on some American blog of walking, cycling, hiking or kayaking (not sure about dancing, crawling or rolling) a thousand miles in a year. Easy enough when doing a full-time thru-hike — typical versions in the U.S. are more than twice that. A bit tougher when squeezed into normal life.

But I had an unfair advantage in that I can’t remember ever being cursed with a normal life. And I walk a lot compared to most people. I decided to do my thousand by Christmas.

And just yesterday, slightly ahead of schedule, after 16 weeks and a couple of days of striding the backstreets, waterfront, mudflats, Brisbane River banks, botanic gardens and CBD, I did it. I used the iPhone Walkmeter application for measurement — here it is yesterday showing the two-day figure that had put me, at last, over the finish line:

Click DONE, Goat — you can finally end this ridiculous stunt and put your hooves up. No more will neighbours classify you as one of the “local characters” (read: lunatics) common in the area. There he goes again, their glances seemed to imply. The Walking Man. Poor bastard. Some kind of mania…

Why miles, in this metric age? Well, America’s a few decades behind the rest of us. And the 1609.34 Kilometre Challenge wouldn’t sound as cool. I can visualise miles after all my American walking: a mile feels substantial, solid, where a kilometre feels like a stroll to the letterbox.

(There’s just something cool about a mile. I mean, did Duane Eddy twang 64.3738 Kilometres of Bad Road? Did the Byrds harmonise about being 12.8748 Kilometres High? Did the Who proclaim that they could see for kilometres? How about Captain Beefheart’s heartfelt observation that Her Eyes Are a Blue 1,609,344 Kilometres?)

Terminology aside, I did enjoy most of the challenge, but in truth it was wearing me down. I mean, how many permutations can you come up with of a neighbourhood stroll to keep yourself from going completely nutso? I was about to start walking backwards just to change the scenery.

And I was also growing very, very tired of the relentless record-keeping and phone-clicking. I would do it in weekly blocks, and I made a rough guess early on that I’d need to average 50 miles or more a week. So it was always in the back of my mind that I needed to do more than that in case of unforeseen problems — something good on TV, a phone call from Scarlett Johansson asking if I was free that afternoon. Etc.

Here’s the first page of my very primitive record-keeping. You’ll have to accept it as “proof”:

Another thing I hated was always checking the bloody phone — and I hate checking the phone. I can go weeks without talking on the thing, and that’s the way I like it. But I never trusted that damned GPS to be sharing the load, though it usually was.

I also had to remember to switch the app off when I sat down to enjoy a coffee, book and baked item or two, then remember to turn it on again later. If I realised I’d just walked half an unrecorded mile I’d mentally flagellate myself (I’ve stopped literally flagellating myself — shoppers were staring), because Goat’s Rules state that Only Miles Recorded on Walkmeter Really Count.

What else can I bitch about? Well, I was always tired at work for some reason. On late shift I’d fall asleep on the train going to work, then be in a shitty mood, forced to take it out on my colleagues and students. Actually, I don’t think they noticed any difference.

On morning shifts I found myself starting out about 4:45am for a quick five miles before work. Actually this was usually the highlight of the day. Dawn over Moreton Bay, playing with the camera — simple joys. Then came unemployment and my quality of life vastly improved.

So it’s over. Nothing left but the glory, the groupies and the worn-out Vibram soles. Oh, and a few souvenirs. Here they are: the ragtag collection of items I beach- or street-combed over the last 16 weeks, now adorning the shelves of Club Mountaingoat.

Trophies. Prizes. Utter crap.

There’s the blue bird’s egg:

And the plastic grasshopper tossed over the fence at the local kindergarten (finder’s keeper’s, kiddo):

The broken Chinese bowl half-buried in the mudflats:

The blue swimmer crab:

The respect of unknown peers:

And a terrible omen I somehow survived. After years of finding playing cards on the roadside, I finally scored the jackpot:

Someone has some explaining to do to their Saviour:

Unfortunately the CD didn’t come with it:

A random assortment of found objects:

It floats:

I do enjoy a nice chunk of driftwood:

The loggerhead turtle breast-plate I found on Moreton. Oh, and the coconut:

You can never have too many molluscs:

Feathers were a major obsession. I consider it bad luck not to find at least one worthy specimen on my daily walk. My only rule is that you mustn’t pluck one from a dead bird. That would be inviting calamity:

I found this porcelain insulator (now serving as a feather receptacle) in the mud at Dinah’s Island, near where I grew up…

..along with this soft drink bottle from a long-gone WWII-era Brisbane bottler:

A couple of seabird wishbones:

And finally, I rescued this beach ball rolling forlornly in the sea breeze on the Sandgate waterfront, brought it back and gave it a good home:

I have no use whatsoever for a bloody beach ball.

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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9 Comments

  1. Thanks for the link! You’ve destroyed me in the 1000 mile challenge, by roughly 450 miles! You’re officially the walking legend now. I’d send you a trophy ribbon, but it looks like you’ve already got one!

    Yes, mileage does sound a lot better than ‘kilometrage’. On that note though I noticed you missed the great Proclaimers song, ‘I’m Gonna Be (804.672 kms)’.

    I do like your trinkets though and the feather collection looks magnificent although a bit ‘Silence of the Lambs’ like! Do you have the ‘special’ trinkets in a box under the bed in true serial killer style?! I do like to pick up objects, but my collection is looking a bit slim on the ground compared to yours. I better beef it up a bit before revealing it to the world.

    Great reading as usual and I’m loving these photos. The bottle on the beach shot looks perfect! Time to put your feet up even if it’s only for a few days…

    • Greg, I didn’t show any shots from my Inner Sanctum — for a reason!

      Keep grinding up those miles. What are you reading this for? There are streets, trails and scary inner-Melbourne alleys to trudge.

  2. I thought this was a reasonably healthy mania until I came to the notebook and the objets trouvés… Now, please stop beating yourself up and have a nice, long lie-down!

  3. Hmm – cycle 1000 miles… I probably did that by the beginning of second term. I should stick an odometer on my bike and see excactly how far I clock up commuting.

    And Greg beat me to it with The Proclaimers.

    Maybe we should all go for leagues next year?

    • My next one will be a Thousand Miles by Queensland Rail Train, just adding up commutes. For added challenge, I have to sit near phone users and not explode.

  4. Hi Goat

    What an awesome idea! Ganna copy it if you don’t mind. Collecting crap on my daily walks around Sandgate. Love it!

    • Thanks, Donna, and sorry for my delay in responding. As described in my latest post, I’ve just broken a very long (for me) blogging drought — or impasse. I am quite the bower bird with walking mementoes but have had to curtail the hobby due to lack of space! I did keep a Joker card I found on the road in Winter — seemed appropriate!

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