BIG WALK

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - INTERSECTION -

In 2010, Matt Green quit his job as a civil en­gi­neer to walk across the United States, from New York to Ore­gon. Af ter com­plet­ing his 5,000-kilo­me­tre trek in 152 days, he re­turned to the Big Ap­ple weary but ex­hil­a­rated.

By 2013, Green was at it again. For the last three years, the 36-year-old has been attempting to walk ev­ery street in New York City — a dis­tance he fig­ures to be in the 13,000-kilo­me­tre range. Thanks to peo­ple who do­nate money through his web­site (www.imjust­walkin. com) Green, who crashes in dif fer­ent friends’ apart­ments depend­ing upon what part of the city he’s pass­ing through, is “about two years” from com­plet­ing his goal.

We reached him in Har­lem ear­lier this sum­mer, and chat­ted about what drives him to put one foot in front of the other, day af ter day af ter day. FREE PRESS: MATT GREEN: I moved to New York City in 2005 from Vir­ginia and al­most right away be­came re­ally in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing the city. I started a walk­ing group and I found that I re­ally en­joyed the feel­ing of walk­ing ev­ery day. That got me think­ing about string­ing a bunch of long walks back to back to back, which led to my cross-coun­try walk. A year and a half af ter that, I started my New York walk. FP: MG: Not as many as you might think, prob­a­bly no more than five pairs. I do tend to wear out the heels first but I’ve found a pretty good cob­bler and as soon as that starts to hap­pen, I bring them in and get a new heel put on. FP: Is this a soli­tary pur­suit or do you ever have com­pany? And if you’re walk­ing alone, do you wear an iPod to pass the time? MG: Some­times friends want to come along, some­times ran­dom peo­ple... ev­ery once in a while a tourist from an­other coun­try — some­body who read about me on my blog — will con­tact me and ask if they can tag along. And to an­swer your sec­ond ques­tion, no, never. To me, wear­ing an iPod would take away from the whole ex­pe­ri­ence of see­ing and hear­ing the city. It would be the same as walk­ing around with a blind­fold on. FP: Be­sides the Win­nipeg­ger I talked to, are you aware of any­body else who does what you do? MG: It’s kind of in the air now, I think, be­cause a year-and-a-half af ter I started, I heard about a peo­ple in Cal­gary, Paris and San Fran­cisco, as well as lots of peo­ple in much smaller cities than Winnipeg. Which I’ve been to by the way; a friend and I were driv­ing to Alaska and on our way there, we vis­ited your (Royal Cana­dian) Mint. I’m also fa­mil­iar with (the band) the Weak­erthans. FP: Last ques­tion: now that you’ve seen close to 70 per cent of New York City, do you have a favourite part of town? MG: I don’t, pri­mar­ily be­cause the way I’ve ap­proached this project pre­vents me from hav­ing a favourite. It’s a very for­ward way of do­ing things. It’s not about go­ing back to places you like — it’s about go­ing to places you haven’t been to yet. And so it kind of makes it not mat­ter if I like a place or not cause I’m only go­ing there once. I’m al­ways happy to be any­where new be­cause it means an­other step to­wards achiev­ing my goal.

PHOTO CREDITHERE

Bill Fu­gler, who aims to walk ev­ery street in Winnipeg, keeps track of his progress on a city street at­las.

I’m sure you get this ques­tion 365 days of the year, but what got you started in the first place? Is it safe to as­sume you’ve gone through a fair num­ber of shoes dur­ing the last three years?

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