A 68-year-old Burnaby professor has walked more than 40,000 kilometres on his daily commutes since 2002, a distance measuring the circumference of the earth.
Andrew Rawicz, an engineering science professor at Simon Fraser University, marked the final step of his journey on Friday. Rawicz makes the five-kilometre trek to and from his Burnaby home nearly every day, up a trail off Hastings Street, across Centennial Park, and then along the university ring road to his office at SFU.
“I didn’t plan to encircle the earth. I simply started walking because I thought it was healthier,” he told the NOW.
The 46-minute trip gives him energy for the day, he said, and saves him money he would otherwise have spent on gas and parking. He multitasks on his walk too, carrying a set of small resistant elastics to exercise his upper body on his downhill walk home, and listens to the radio to improve his english.
Weather is no deterrent, either. Rain, snow or shine, Rawicz makes his trip through the forests, watching how the weather changes the scenery and the wildlife he encounters.
“I walk the exactly the same way, but the environment changes, different animals show up from time to time,” he said. “It’s very refreshing, I would say. It’s waking up.”
Some of his encounters with wildlife have been especially memorable. He once passed a mother bear with cubs, and regularly sees deer, whom he says are “polite,” as well as coyotes and woodpeckers.
Rawicz, who has been lifting weights since he was 16, and once worked as a lumberjack in Belgium, says the workout makes him more alert and efficient at work.
He also hopes his accomplishment can inspire others to be active, and benefit both physically and mentally from this kind of regular exercise.
At SFU, he already has. He’s inspired some of his colleagues to walk or bike to work.
“If we would use this situation … to somehow motivate and inspire more people to do the same, I think that this would be already an accomplishment of much higher value, because that way we could save the healthcare system in B.C.,” he said. “Quite frankly, I think that this kind of behaviour stops aging, I hope.”
Rawicz says he will continue his regular hiking for the next few years, but right now he is focusing on flying lessons, and soon hopes to get his pilot’s license. He’s also working with a startup company on creating a new medical device.