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Walking a way of life for Norwalk man

Scott Seitz • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:03 PM

Norwalk resident Keith Ridge is a man on a mission.

Ridge, 52, has walked for at least two miles for more than 500 straight days.

What got him started?

"After my wife Terri had a stroke, I felt I was overweight and needed to take care of myself," Ridge said. "I started walking with a walking partner, Nancy Snyder, and that got me going and kept me going. I had tried several times and now I go no matter what."

Ridge said he started at Veterans Memorial Lake Park.

"That's two miles around the reservoir," he said. "We then moved to the trail on North West (North Coast Inland Trail) and still did two miles for a while and then eventually three.

"When I hit three miles a day that's when I noticed the weight start to drop off," he added. "I lost 35 pounds."

Ridge, who is retired from Verizon and currently works at Century 21, Mike Myers Realty, walks each day at about 6:15 a.m. no matter what. His streak started July 8, 2006.

"There was a two-week period where a coyote tracked us," he said. "It would stay about 30 yards from us.

"We've had skunks spray the dogs in the face and had my dog get caught in a leg trap," Ridge said. "We've also had the dogs chase the pheasants when they are loose. We've also seen many meteor showers."

Ridge remembers a winter day when the walking was tough.

"I had the flu and still walked," he said. "The first quarter-mile I was shaking and shivering.

"I walk when I'm on vacation," he added. "I've walked in the Dominican Republic, Outer Banks, Arizona, Wyoming and Maine. And it's always outside. I choose the morning because I have no plans at 6:15."

He knows where home is.

"No matter where I walk I'm happy to get back to the trail," he said. "That's home for me and my dog."

The walking has made him feel great.

"I feel better than anytime in my 40s," he said. "I feel as good as I ever have."

Ridge said before the current streak began, he hadn't missed for six months before that.

"I was driving home from out west and had been walking every day out there," he said. "I had planned to walk when we got to the hotel, but got near Chicago and I asked everyone if they would mind if I drove straight home. I got home about 3 a.m. but had missed walking that day."

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