Outstanding FreeWalker 2015-16 - Ken Kurland Interview

Ken Kurland was interviewed by Risa Olinsky, FreeWalkers Vice President, on what makes him walk and what it means to be a FreeWalker. Ken shared the Outstanding Award this year with Nancy Jonap. 

Risa: Ken, you have walked many miles and through many different states. What have been some of your most interesting experiences on the road?

Ken: My longest personal walking challenge was to walk from New York City to Albany along the Old Post Road (which includes Broadway). I walked the distance in segments. I would walk to the train station, go home, and then pick it up where I left off next time, until I made it the entire 150 miles.  There is nothing like experiencing the changes from the city to suburbs to commercial streets to a quiet country road to farmland and then back to urban areas.  On the last day, I was walking through a snowstorm in April.  Other recent memorable walks were walking across Connecticut in several walks over the last few years. I walked from Hartford to New Providence (100 miles in 5 days) this year and New Haven to Hartford (65 miles in 3 days) last year. This is part of a personal journey along the East Coast Greenway to see how far Nancy Jonap and I can walk along this 2,000 mile trail covering the entire east coast – far longer than the Appalachian Trail. It’s truly a FreeWalkers challenge.

Risa:  What do you love most about FreeWalkers?

Ken: There are lots of people, who like hiking through woods, but it’s hard to find people who like the kind of urban or road walking that I like to do. While nature provides a beautiful environment, places where we live and work provide a constantly changing canvas. The people in Freewalkers are great walking companions with whom I have a special connection and a sharing of experiences. Unless you have walked these events, it may be hard to appreciate what we get out of long walks in very diverse areas. You get to understand and appreciate a place in a very intimate way.

Risa: As a professional with little time during the week to train for long walks, what do you do regularly to stay active and fit?

Ken: On the weekends, when I’m not going on an organized walk, I try to walk at least 5 miles each day, and during the week, I walk to and from the subway going to and from work (2 miles total, but a steep uphill on the way home), 30-40 minutes during lunch.  During the week I walk to the subway on the way to work, back from the subway on the way home (only a mile, but uphill), walk at least a half hour.   I usually walk at least 10,000 steps a day.

Risa:  You walk long distances; you are a full time attorney, a musician/songwriter and a family man, how do you make the time for all these interests?

Ken: I have to stay organized and disciplined. I make up my mind what I will spend a particular block of time at and do it, without worrying about other things. So, if I’m working on a music project and have a walk coming up on a Saturday, I make up mind to spend weeknights doing music (when I wouldn’t be walking anyway), do the walk on Saturday, and spend time with my wife on Sunday. My wife is very supportive of my interests and helps me juggle my busy schedule. 

Risa:  What is your long term vision for places you’d love to walk?

Ken: I’m looking forward to retirement in a couple years which should free up some time for some of my more ambitious goals. I want to complete the entire East Coast Greenway from Washington to Canada and I want to do the England Coast to Coast Walk. From there, who knows?


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