Record holder Diana Nyad is the only person who has ever swam from Cuba to Florida.
“The great swimmers of the world had tried that crossing from Havana to Key West,” Nyad said. “Since 1950 nobody had ever made it. It’s an epic, dangerous wilderness out there. I tried it first when I was 28 years old. I didn’t make it; 42 hours of a grueling journey. I got to be 60 years old and thought, you know what? I want to live this life as big to the nth degree as I can. I’m going to go back to chase that dream, that epic dream. I tried it, in the end, four times. On the fifth time I finally made it across, which was Labor Day 2013. So I am, to date, the only person male or female, to ever make that crossing. It took 52 hours and 54 minutes of nonstop swimming.”
Nyad has since changed her focus from sea to land. But instead of trying to break records, she wants to inspire Americans to move their bodies in the most ancient way possible: by walking. Along with her best friend, and leader of her Cuba expedition, Bonnie Stoll, Nyad has created EverWalk, an initiative that challenges people to walk at least three times a week.
Then there are the EverWalk Epic Walks, 134 mile group urban walks. Nyad has lead groups from LA to San Diego, from Boston to Maine and this Sunday, they’re leading a seven day walk from White Rock, BC to West Seattle.
“We walk 20 miles a day as a group. Some people are faster than others, we all meet up at the end of the day. We tell stories of inspiration. People have gotten through cancer, one woman who joined is lost 126 pounds in order to do this walk with us.”
To be clear, it’s walking not hiking.
“We don’t go up into the hills. We walk on asphalt, we have a protection cycling team that goes along with us for safety. Some days are quite flat like that first day down through Blaine. The second day is quite hilly. Going out of Edmonds toward Seattle gets to be pretty hilly. Day seven, in Seattle, is wonderful we go out on a number of vistas where we can look out over Puget Sound. But we are on roads.”
If you’re intrigued, but don’t have a week to spare, Nyad says you’re welcome to join them for a one day walk on any leg of the journey. But for insurance reasons, you must sign up on their website.
Nyad points out what we all know: Americans have become sedentary, staring at screens all day instead of moving their bodies.
“In your area, in Seattle, we’re kind of preaching to the choir. People are outdoors and they enjoy their outdoors. But largely, my gosh, people in LA here, they say, ‘Well, I’m going to go down and get the newspaper.’ I can see the newspaper stand from where we’re standing and they get in their car! We just have this fantasy of turning LA from a car culture into a walking culture.”
She says there are lots of ways to add more walking into your life.
“Steve Jobs, I think, was the first of the corporate types who decided he was going to take all his meetings walking. Bonnie and I do that, unless we absolutely need to be tied to our computer. If somebody wants to meet with us, we say, ‘We’ll walk with you.’ People feel free if they’re not pinned to the conference table, they’re not having to stare in each other’s eyes. They’re looking up at the trees, they’re inspired, people talk.”
If you want to Join Nyad and Stoll for the EverWalk Epic Walk Pacific Northwest, for all seven days or just one, click here.