Great Saunter will be stepping off Saturday for a 32-mile walk
By Albert Amateau
The Great Saunter sometimes known as The Long Schlep will begin Saturday morning May 6 when more than 300 intrepid walkers are expected to take part in the 22nd annual 32-mile walk around Manhattan Island sponsored by Shorewalkers, Inc., a hiking and environmental group.
The event, which attracts enthusiasts from near and far, begins at 7:30 a.m. at Fulton and South Sts. in the South St. Seaport and proceeds clockwise around the island as close to the water as possible, on park and waterfront paths, wherever available.
Participants who walk the entire route, 6 miles longer than a regulation Marathon race but much slower, will pass through more than 20 parks and promenades and under or around a dozen bridges. Last year, more than 175 people completed the march around the island, taking between eight and 11 hours, according to Walt Wright, the saunters coordinator the past six years.
Its longer, cooler and sweeter than the Marathon, said Cy Adler, founder of Shorewalkers. The first time we walked Manhattans rim we went counterclockwise but we discovered the sun rises in the east and sets in the west so we were walking into the sun as it rose and set. The first few Great Saunters were in June but the heat and pollen count took too great a toll.
Walkers may join the saunter at prearranged rendezvous points along the route: at 9:30 a.m. at 42nd St.; 11:20 a.m. at Riverbank State Park atop the North River sewage treatment plant at 145th St.; at 1:30 p.m. at the Inwood Park flagpole north of 207th St.; and 5:30 p.m. at Carl Schurz Park on the East River Promenade at the flagpole at E. 86th St.
My advice is to pick a section you havent walked before, said Wright. Its also a very nice social event too, youre limping along at the end with people from all over, he said.
At 42nd St., Adler will hold a news conference at which Park Commissioner Adrian Benepe is expected to greet the walkers. Elected officials including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Congressmembers Charles Rangel, Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler are expected to send representatives.
The event this year is sponsored by Con Edison and the Department of Parks and Recreation. Pete Seeger, 88, a founding Shorewalkers member, will try to walk part of the route.
It was common in past years for some participants to get lost, when enthusiasm trumped organization, such as on the East River leg of the saunter where the route veers away from the Harlem River to skirt Bakers Field and the subway rail yards.
Now, there are detailed instructions posted on the Shorewalkers Web site at www.shorewalkers.org/index.html. Wear good shoes with thick soles, bring water, food, extra socks and wear a hat, Wright advised.
Non-Shorewalkers members will be asked for a voluntary $10 donation if preregistering online, $15 on the day of the walk. To register online visit www.greatsaunter.org.