The Long Way Home
There are easier ways of doing it. Planes, trains, automobiles… even hot-air balloons. But if you really want to see the world up close and personal, there's only one way to go about it: on foot. Circumnavigating the globe has been a preoccupation of adventurers since our ancestors first realized it was round. But only the truly dedicated set out to complete a whole earth walk-about (as our friends in Australia might say), and for good reason. According to the folks at Guinness World Records, to actually walk the earth properly you must travel at least 36,787.559 km or 22,858.7294 miles (the distance of the Tropic of Cancer) and cross the Equator. Walkers aren't to skip any bits, and must also start each leg of the trip at exactly the point where they stopped the last leg. Plus, they must pass through at least two points that are antipodal (a fancy way of saying these two points are literally at the opposite ends of the earth from each other). Taking into consideration the large bodies of water, great swathes of desert, vast and icy sierras, visa requirements and hostile nations, that must be surmounted in order to complete the journey, it's not surprising that hardly anyone succeeds at walking the entire earth. Among those who have attempted to walk
the world include the self-proclaimed Earthwalker, Dave Kunst (pictured in the two images above). Dave set off with his brother John in June 1970 and completed the 14,450-mile journey four years later, but the trip wasn't without tragedy: he lost his brother during a horrific bandit attack in Afghanistan. He is the first confirmed person to have walked the entire land mass of the earth (excluding the oceans), and his 20-million steps wore out 21 pairs of shoes. You can read his story here. Another walker is Gary 'Walkingman' Hause (above), who is currently (according to his website) 23,514 miles into his journey, which started in 1996. He's chasing the record of 38,000 miles set by Arthur Blessitt (below), who walked the globe carrying a giant wooden cross. Really. In fact, Blessitt is still walking, and has clocked up a total of 39,060 miles over 42 years. As you might have surmised, his is a spiritual calling. Hard to compete with that. Then there's Odyssey XXI, or rather, a guy called Karl Bushby (below). He's been on the move since 1998, walking from the southernmost tip of South America to England. He expects to cover 36,000 miles over 14 years of walking. Bushby has yet to make it; in fact, it's not even clear from his website exactly where he is at this very moment… Other travelers have circumnavigated the globe using human power – including Robert Garside ('The Runningman') who ran around the world from 1997 to 2003, taking 2,062 days to cover 30,000 miles across 29 countries and six continents. Jason Lewis also managed it (from 1994 to 2007), using pedal power to cross the Atlantic and Pacific, rollerblades to cross the United States, and a bike to cross Australia. He kayaked from Oz to Singapore, and hiked, biked and pedaled the rest of the way home to London. His timing wasn't quite right. While Lewis estimated a journey time of 3.5 years, in reality it took him 13 to make it back to England. In that time he covered a staggering 45,000 miles. Like Dave Kunst's 70's trip, Lewis' undertaking wasn't free from calamity: during the journey, Lewis was hit by a car and suffered two broken legs, was attacked by a crocodile, and was arrested in Egypt for alleged spying. The next time you're on a hike and are hit with the sudden urge to just to keep on going – remember, walking the earth is not for the faint of heart. But if you feel like attempting to beat the record for most miles logged on the treadmill, go for it.