Outstanding Leader 2015-16 - Bob Quinlan Interview

Bob Quinlan was interviewed by Risa Olinsky, FreeWalkers Vi
ce President, on what drives him and what it's like joining FreeWalkers. 

Risa: You have so many incredible interests with walking long distances being just one of them. You love trains, motorcycles, cars and planes as well.  What is it about walking that motivates you?

Bob:  It’s true, I love getting around in things with wings or wheels, but I’ve found that walking is the best way to experience the outdoors, whether in urban or rural areas.  Although, I love flying (as pilot or passenger), you miss the intimacy of the scenery.  I also enjoy riding trains, which I find it very relaxing.  But, you can’t just stop the train to get out and take pictures or hike the mountains you go by.

Although, many modes of travel are enjoyable, I find walking is the best way to “get up close and personal.” When you walk through rural and coastal areas, you experience it all – the smell of pine trees, honeysuckle, freshly cut hay and salty ocean air- things you really can’t experience in an airplane, train or car.  Walking is also a great way to experience the aura of a city, especially a city with many ethnicities and cultures.  There’s nothing like the enticing smell of sweet Italian sausages coming from a push cart on a Manhattan sidewalk or the aromas of all kinds of food in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.  For me, walking all around a city is the best way to take it all in - even better with a group- the miles go faster and if someone misses something of special interest, someone else usually points it out.      

Risa: What have been some of your most interesting experiences on the road? 

Bob: One of my most interesting experiences while walking was when I walked the Florida Keys, from the top of Key Largo to Key West.  I’ve driven this route many times in my life and always enjoyed the breathtaking scenery, but it was difficult to soak it all in while driving along the highway at 50 mph (often with another car on my tail).  So, about a month after I retired I decided to walk the entire length when the weather changed abruptly and the skies opened up (right in the middle of the “7 mile bridge”.  I was soaked before I could even get my rain gear on although that didn’t stop me. The entire walk was the most memorable one so far.  

Risa:  How did you learn about FreeWalkers?

I learned about Freewalkers on “Meetup.”  After I retired and started walking long distances, I realized that few (actually none) of my friends wanted anything to do with walking further than the distance from a parking lot into a restaurant.  While searching for walking groups, “Freewalkers” jumped right out at me. After attending my first event with the group (30-mile Hudson River Loop Walk) I quickly learned there were other “slightly eccentric” people like me out there!  I’ve been hooked ever since.

Risa: What do you love most about FreeWalkers?

Bob: Without exception, it’s the people. The group’s founder, Paul Kiczek, is a very easy-going, friendly guy who makes everyone feel welcome.  There’s no pressure to walk any distance or at any particular pace.  Most of the members are friendly and health-conscious people from a variety of backgrounds.  With no competitive pressure to meet any particular goals (something I did all my life), I found Freewalkers to be the perfect fit for a retired guy like me who’s no longer in a hurry and has nothing to prove.

I’ve always been an introvert but the members of this group made me comfortable right from the start and I’ve made many new friends here.  When we walk (usually in small groups) we talk to one another almost all the time; the miles just fly by.  The other things I do, motorcycling, bicycling, kayaking, even flying are well-suited to “loners” (like me), but walking in groups with such nice people has forced me to come out of my shell, so to speak. I now find myself casually talking to strangers that I probably would have avoided in the past.    

I will add that many people probably would never think of walking 20 or 30 miles (or more) in a day.  As I often say, if you can walk one mile, you can walk two; and if you can walk two miles, push yourself a little and walk three or four and so on.  Before you know it you might find yourself walking 30-50 miles in a day!  Your feet may hurt, but it’s a good kind of hurt at the end of a full day.  

Risa: Bob, from our walks and talks together, I know that you have transformed your health and body over the past few years.  How does walking long distances continue to support your wellness goals?

About 3 years ago, I retired and joined Weight Watchers. Through careful eating and sustained exercise, I lost almost 80 pounds. The challenge has been keeping that extra weight off.  Participating in Freewalkers events, particularly the longer walks, helps me maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness- something I didn’t do in the past.  I supplement my walking with bicycle rides and often go kayaking and “stand-up paddle boarding” on New Jersey’s lakes and rivers.

Risa: With all your life experiences and now retired, what advice would you give young people who might say - “I have no time for exercise?”

For those who think they don’t have the time to exercise, my advice would be to make the time- force yourself to wake up an hour earlier in the morning to exercise if that’s what it takes.  I’d also tell them not to let themselves go, like I did. It’s so easy to do while you’re pursuing a career and eating and drinking to be social.  It’s so much easier, less painful and cheaper to stay in shape than it is to get back in shape after you’ve let yourself go.   


Back to 2015 Awards



Recent Events

Roebling Ramble 

June 17, 2017 - This event combined the history of the Roebling family (built the Brooklyn Bridge and many others) and their rise and fall and the town they created that represented an immigrant's dream 100-years ago.

Our 34 FreeWalkers continued another 13 miles to Trenton to experience a unique festival called Art All Night which offered a huge stage to experience live visual and audio art along with caravan of food trucks for 24-hours straight. The entire day was a unique and interesting experience in history and art.

Hudson River Loop 

June 10, 2017 - It turned out to be a great day for a great event. Our largest event yet with 125 participants. Many making it all the way to the end of 30-miles. If there was any particular challenge it was the heat building up but with some breeze to help as it reached the mid-80s.

This year to accommodate more challengers we expanded the support providing improved signage and a support stop near the GWB. Our thanks to the Hudson River Walkway Conservancy, East Coast Greenway, Shorewalkers and Metrotrails for helping make this a huge success for FreeWalkers and our United Walking effort.

Website Update here

Survey resultsTake Survey. 

Photos here

The Big Walk 2017

May 20, 2017 - Rain at the crack of dawn did nothing to stop 40+ FreeWalkers' at this 8th annual premier long distance event. Fortunately, the weather cooperated, mostly, and we had 11 finish the maximum 50-miles.

The walk from Metropark station to Penn Station NYC is a diverse challenge with many obstacles which draw the best of our long distance walkers.

Website Update here

Survey resultsTake Survey. 

Photos here

Between Walk 2017

April 15, 2017 - With a good temps but overcast skies 23. FreeWalkers walked the 12 miles from New Brunswick to Metropark station. This year's events included a new free bagel stop at Ruthie's in Highland Park and a great personal tour of the newly renovated Thomas Edison Center in Menlo Park.

Jack Shi's Excellent Adventure

Website Update here

Survey resultsTake Survey

Photos here

Great Canal Walk 2017

April 8, 2017 - It was a beautiful day for a walk with a taste of spring. FourWalkers walked the 40 miles from Trenton and 29 walkers favored the shorter, yet challenging 28 miles from Princeton to New Brunswick.

Website Update here

Survey results. Take Survey

Photos here

Spring Ahead 2017

March 19, 2017 - Eight FreeWalkers walked the 12-miles from Trenton to Princeton on a day when winter would not let go. Snow covered trail and cold temps slowed down the trek but sun and good spirits were plentiful. 

See photos here

Roosevelt Island/Astoria 2017

March 4, 2017 - About 40 braved the mid-teens and walked across town to the tram. We explored the island and the FDR 4 Freedoms Monument and park. Eventually crossing the bridge to Queens for some middle-eastern sights, smells and tastes. Ending it all at the famous Czech Beer Hall. 

See photos here

See survey results here

Kennedy 50-Mile Walk 2017

February 4, 2017 - An event for history buffs and hardcore walkers. Our 4th walk along the C&O Canal in Maryland and West Virginia - just like Bobby Kennedy did in 1963. Chilly weather did not dampen the can-do spirit of 50 fellow walkers at our grand annual event.

Learn more>>
See photos here
See survey results here

TRAINing Walk 2017

January 28, 2017 - It's mid-winter and 75 hearty walkers show up at the Morristown train station. This year we went West to East and ended in a cozy bar called Coda. Special kudos to Madison Honda for their hospitatlity.

See photos here
See the survey results here.

Midnight March on Princeton

January 7, 2017 - The Midnight March was our first all-night walking event and first event for the new year. Six brave FreeWalkers played wannabe soldiers and stayed with the troops into battle.at daybreak.
Read the entire story here
See photos here

See the video!

Holiday Lights in Dyker Heights

December 16, 2016 - About a dozen FreeWalkers braved extreme cold and outmaneuvered rabid fans of the famous Brooklyn neighborhood. Thanks to Nakis Pericleous for leading us to the holiday kingdom.
See photos here

South Orange - Maplewood Walk & Year-end Party

December 4, 2016 - There were 35 FreeWalkers walking the grand and historic neighborhoods of South Orange and Maplewood followed by our year-end party and awards. Thanks to Risa Olinsky and David Ascher for a great day for a walk, celebration party and a start of the holiday season..
See photos here

Gobble-Gobble for MEND

November 25, 2016 - A crowd of about 40 walked off some turkey and at the same time helped the unfortunate in our communities by supporting MEND of Essex County - a food-bank charity that we support. Gobble-Gobble Walkers were asked to bring food and/or donate to help the hungry.
See photos here

Stroll & Roll - Union County

November 6, 2016 - Familes and FreeWalkers enjoyed a great fall day in Echo Lake Park, Mountainside, NJ as we got about 200 participants strolling and rolling. Kids had as much fun as adults enjoying the games, mild temps and colorful leaves on our first-ever family walking event. Thank you sponsors and Risa Olinsky and Yohana Osorio for organizing!
See photos here

Philadelphia Marathon Walk

October 30, 2016 - Charles Upkike led about 20 FreeWalkers along the route of the Philadelphia Marathon, know for its scenery - especially this time of year.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow Walk

October 30, 2016 - Rick Mohovich led about a dozen FreeWalkers around the Tarrytown area in a walk that passed through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery of Wahington Irving fame.

Tour of Brooklyn - Coney Island

October 29, 2016 - 25 FreeWalkers walked from the New City waterfront to Coney Island on our annual tour of a different section of Brooklyn each year. Always popular and interesting, we enjoyed great weather and scenery as we walked the greenway trail, including under the Verrazano Bridge. Thanks leader Nancy Jonap!
See photos here

Autumn on the Delaware Series

October 20-23, 2016 - Four consecutive days, 120 miles. Walking from York PA to Frenchtown. FreeWalkers walked in support of Jim Gregoire, a FreeWalker and man on a mission to walk the entire US East Coast. Charles Updike, FreeWalkers PA Regional director organized this series of walk to keep him company and provide a great reason to visit the Delaware River area.
See photos here

Sailung Nepal Trek

October 3-16, 2016 - Two weeks trekking te foothills of the Himalayas. Sydney Frymire of Trek of Your Life (TOYL), a FreeWalker and experienced hiker and traveler organizes trips to Nepal which include a bit of volunteerism and plenty of incredible sights.
See photos here

Lenape 34

October 10, 2016 - On Columbus Day each year we brave the wilds of Essex County and travel through five reservations, 8 parks a dozen or so towns as we walk from Millburn to Cedar Grove, Montclair and Newark as we follow the Lenape Trail for 34 miles in our most diverse walk.
See photos here

Endless Summer Walk

September 24, 2016 - Once again we tried our best to hold on to summer and made a 30-mile trek along the bayshore and oceanside from Matawan to Sandy Hook to Asbury Park. Great conditions again this year for a beautiful walk and one of our most popular.
See photos here

Tour of Boston

September 17, 2016 - Fran Price, our FreeWalker leader in Boston, put together a great tour of the highlights of Boston. We walked from South Boston to Copley Square, mostly following the water and the historic trail.
See photos here

Providence - Boston Expedition

Providence to Boston July 23 to July 29 - Loredana, Ken and Nancy have finished thier 110 mile week-long expedition on the ECGA.

Read Loredana's story on why she walks the expedition each year.

See Loredana's 7-day Photo Journal

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