On behalf of the Great Saunter Committee, I’d like to thank you for registering to participate in the Great Saunter. I have completed many Great Saunters and would like to provide you with a helpful guide for doing this beautiful 32 mile walk.

If there is any doubt about your ability to complete the Saunter due to health related issues, please check with your health care provider before attempting to do the complete Saunter.  The majority of people participating in the Saunter do not complete the 32 mile walk and still had a lot of fun. It is important to know your limits and what your body can tolerate.  Failure to know your limits can result in disaster for you and us.


If you are not accustomed to doing leisurely walks for pleasure, similar to those in our schedule, I advise you to do many of our weekend walks to get in shape prior to the Saunter. The average length of these walks is 3-12 miles. You should also try to go on our longer walks which are usually from 10+ miles. You can see our walking events at the following link:  Shorewalker Events.  

The longer walks below will provide you with good training and allow you to estimate your abilities.

Start slowly and give yourself time to build up to the longer walks. Another thing that will help you is to walk where you would normally use your car or public transportation.  Example: suppose, you are in no particular hurry to get to a destination 3-5 miles away. Try walking to this destination.  Make walking a part of your life.. You will find that after you do longer and harder hikes, walks on city streets will be easier and less tiring.  Runners that participate in the Marathon will frequently run 7+ miles in their spare time to train for the Marathon, many months prior to the Marathon. You should do the same with walking to prepare for the Saunter.  Another thing that will prove helpful is to walk up and down the stairs instead of using escalators or elevators. Please give yourself two solid months of intense walking or running training to prepare for the Great Saunter, if you don’t regularly do much walking or running.


Wearing comfortable shoes with good support will make the Great saunter much more enjoyable.  Over the years, I’ve observed that many people wear jogging and running shoes.  I myself used expensive New Balance walking shoes for many years. I also use to change my socks 2-3 times during the Saunter.  In 2014, I used hiking boots to complete the Saunter. The hiking boots were far superior to my New Balance walking shoes.  I did not have to change my socks and my feet did not develop blisters.  However, I still recommend bringing extra socks, no matter what type of shoes you wear to do the Saunter.   The one problem with wearing expensive hiking boots is that you wear down the soles walking on city street pavement.  My recommendation is that you wear trail runner and other quality thick-soled shoes while doing the Saunter.  Needless to say, do not break in new shoes or boots on the day of the Saunter.


It is important to keep yourself hydrated when doing the Saunter.  Some people will bring large bottles of liquids. I myself carry two bicycle bottles filled with ice water. This makes my pack heavier, but I prefer cold water when I’m thirsty.  I will generally buy a bottle of Snapple Iced tea at Inwood Park.  At certain locations, Shorewalkers will be giving out free bottles of water to registrants. A good idea is to get a backpack with a hydration system or to add a hydration system to your backpack.   On past Saunters, I’ve seen some people carrying a water bottle in a holster with a long plastic siphon in addition to their backpack.  This is another type of hydration system.


Many people who do the Great Saunter feel that energy bars, protein bars and/or yogurt bars are the best thing to eat on the Saunter to keep your energy levels up.  If they work for you, fine.  I find that most energy, protein and yogurt bars have too much sugar.  Some people bring along various types of salads. I myself bring two turkey sandwiches with lettuce, olive oil and mustard, potato chips and, two pre-sliced apples and seedless grapes. I generally eat some of my food at 42nd street on the Westside, some at Riverside Park, and some at Inwood and the remainder at Carl Schurz Park.  From my experience, you should keep yourself energized, but do not overeat on the Saunter.  I find that overeating tires you out, makes you sluggish, and therefore makes it harder for you to complete the Saunter.


Usually it is relatively warm the first Saturday in May. I would still bring a nylon jacket to wear and a heavier jacket for walking in the evening.  You might also want to bring a poncho or light weight rain gear. Wear a hat or cap (which we give all registrants) to protect yourself from the sun while doing the Saunter.  If you prefer, bring a small flashlight or a Piezo electric headlight for walking in the evening. Do not overweight your backpack with excessive clothing since this will make you more tired when doing the Saunter.


Bring a cell phone or Iphone when doing the Saunter. Make sure it is fully charged prior to doing the Saunter. Please pay careful attention to walkway obstacles and street crossings when communicating. Try to keep your communications to a minimum. Long communications tire some people when doing long walks.


One thing I find very helpful is PROFOOT moleskin for blisters.  You might also want to bring some foot cream, blister medication, sun-tan lotion and bandages

Remember, the Great Saunter is not a race. Some people will finish early and some late. It is also advisable to take breaks when doing the Saunter. Last year it took me 12+ hours to complete the Saunter.

In conclusion, the Saunter Committee hopes you will have great weather and that participating in the Great Saunter will be a happy and rewarding experience for everyone.

For further tips on walking: Reader’s Digest Walking for Health and Happiness, Authors: Dr. William Byrd & Veronica Reynolds published in 2002.


Ed Leibowitz


Saunter Committee




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