Organization Hosts Mile-Long Walks
FreeWalkers Organization to sponsor trails stretching across multiple statelines
By Monique Rice
March 29, 2011, New Brunswick, NJ - FreeWalkers Organization members will be walking more than 100 miles across the state in the next two months to promote walking as a fitness exercise.
The FreeWalkers Organization is an informal group of individuals who plan challenging walks and invite others to join, according to crossjerseywalk.org.
Paul Kiczek, the founder of FreeWalkers, was inspired by former President John F. Kennedy's 1963 initiative to promote walking.
"I had this idea back when I was a teenager" he said. "In the '60s, Kennedy was promoting walking as fitness exercise and the public jumped on it in 1963 in a very big way and that is sort of [thing] what we are doing"
The upcoming walks will use a trail called the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile distance that connects trails from Dallas, Maine, to Key West, Fla., with three separate walks set to take place, Kiczek said.
"My wife and I did a bike ride of the trail six years ago and it took us three days," said Mike Kruimer, a member of the East Coast Greenway Trail Council.
The first of the three walks, the Great Canal Walk, is slated for April 9, which will take walkers from Trenton to New Brunswick and connect walkers on April 16 to the Teen Walk, a 12-mile walk from New Brunswick to Metro Park train station, Kiczek said.
The final event will be The Big Walk, which takes walkers from Metro Park train station to New York's Penn Station, Kiczek said.
"The way we do it is that we structure it, so people can do shorter distances and still feel like they are part of the event," he said. "There are many stops along the way so you can hop in on certain sections and still do a substantial amount of miles"
Kiczek is anticipating about 100 participants for the 100-mile Great Canal Walk, but expects more people to sign up once when it comes closer to the event.
The event is open for anyone who wants to participate and is free of charge, he said.
"I don't put any obstacles in front of anyone who wants to walk," he said. "We just ask that people register online at our website [freewalkers.org]."
FreeWalkers Organization has 250 online members since its start last year, Kiczek said.
"We are looking to get the word out because it is a new idea," he said. "We are promoting long-distance walking and keeping people healthy with fitness and social aspects."
The organization held its first practice walk last Sunday that spanned from the Trenton train station to Princeton in order to acquaint future participants with the walk, Kiczek said.
Walkers come from different backgrounds and range in ages from 70 to 80 years old, he said.
"Last Sunday, we had a 7-year-old girl walk six miles and a dog that walked 20 miles," Kiczek said. "A little tiny dog, I could not believed she walked that far."
Kruimer said his 7-year-old daughter enjoys walking and plans on participating in the upcoming walk.
"We're going to do a practice walk this weekend and she plans on doing some of the walk with Paul on [April 9]," he said. "I think it is enjoyable for anyone who likes to walk or the outdoors."
There is also an option for people to do the walk on their own time, Kiczek said.
"We have a website called crossjerseywalk.org that allows you to log your own miles and walk the same path, anytime during the year," Kiczek said. "We are trying to get people to complete the 100 miles at their own pace or with the events during the year."
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