Week three:
Special to The Washington Post
Edited for Walk With Remar web site

Remar Sutton

Little Apple Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Things are gathering speed in the Conch world, named after the lowly Conch shell that doesn’t move much and would drink a beer if it could.

Some good news: Over 1900 people are already training using our free calendars. Of course, our rookie Conchs want anonymity at this stage of their training (twelve years ago one Conch took his first walk at midnight so no one could see him), but their messages are universal:

  • "I'm overweight and weak, and I hate it," wrote one Conch in training, "I'm fixing it. Now."
  • "I'm a fifty-five year-old woman…scratch 'woman,' make that slug," wrote another.
  • "When you're over the hill, you pick up speed," said one man, "I've spent too much time avoiding exercise, and any day above ground is a good day to start a recovery of health."
  • One man summed up the true Conch attitude about exercise: "What's today?" he asked, referring to his training calendar, "Monday? Good! Don't have to do a thing!"
  • A woman in her forties sounded a note that may resonate with you: "I have been searching for a sense of balance," she said. "Work seems to take everything out of me, and I know that working out, even a little, gives me energy and balance."

A momentous announcement: You, too, have thought about getting a grip on your health and stamina and mental attitude, haven't you? Thought about some type of exercise regimen? But either time or money or an aversion to biking, weight lifting, swimming, jogging, or some other form of punishment has kept you from acting on your thoughts.

Well, stop the presses: We've added an event and training calendar which makes it impossible for you to shirk your physical health and mental well-being any longer. All you need for this event is a good pair of walking shoes.

"The Walk of Tortola!" If you can walk, we'll get you ready for this spectacular athletic event. Over the course of two days, we're going to walk up to twenty-four of the most stunning and mountainous byways in the world, the ridge roads of Tortola. You honestly can't dream a walk as beautiful as this. Thirty islands in the distance! Goats! Two napping tents (really)! Curly-tailed lizards! Three alfresco bars! Donkeys and lots of cows! A picnic in a rain forest!

In The Walk of Tortola, you set both the pace and length of the walk. Meander along six miles of coastline, if you'd like. Or power walk roads so steep cars here actually come with "inclinometers" to keep drivers from tipping their vehicles.

And whatever the pace, you—that's you—begin training tomorrow. Starting with a fifteen minute walk, our training calendar will sneak you into shape using only your legs and eventually any stairway. This training calendar is based on walking programs developed by Dr. James M. Rippe, the "Father of American fitness walking," a leader in lifestyle medicine, and author of more than 25 medical and fitness books including four on walking. You may get tired driving twenty-four miles, but follow our training calendar and in weeks your stamina and outlook on life will rise like a Tortolian volcanic peak.

When is all this happening? The Conchs are coming to Tortola on Wednesday, December 4, 2002, and are taking over the Long Bay Beach Resort, just over the hill from my home, smack in the middle of a mile-long palm-lined beach. The hotel will be offering both a four day and a seven day packages, but you can stay in a camp ground, too, or stay with a local family. You can use frequent flyer miles to get here. If you have the will to train, we'll do our best to find a way to get you here. You'll find lots of detail on the web site.

What if you absolutely can't come to Tortola? Hey, no problem. We'll point you to several events in the Beltway and Appalachian areas over the next eight months. Any walking event anywhere still qualifies you as a Mighty Conch. One Conch is using our training calendar to prepare for the Camino de Santiago Compostela pilgrimage in Spain--a 500-mile walk!

What to do now:

  • If you're thinking about joining our walking event,
    • click on the "Walk Tortola" Button and take a gander at the views along your walk!
    • Then download the training calendar.
    • Then register.
    • Then click on the "Tell a friend" button and tell them about this web site. Cajoling friends to suffer with you is a noble cause.
    • Then explore this whole site. Don't miss the journals, and the page about Tortola.
    • Take the Rippe One Minute Fitness Walking Test.
    • Watch The Post each Monday for updates and stories.
    • Finally, go take a walk!
  • Even if you're already training on one of our calendars, head to our web site. We’re giving you some great new information:
    • A link to over a dozen articles in Sally Squire's "Lean Plate Club" series. Sally’s columns run on Tuesday in The Post, and she hosts an on-line chat room, too. The Lean Plate Club can really help you get a grip on your eating and health habits.
    • A "What's New" button. Here, we'll tell you about breaking news. For instance, we give you the first details on our December events here in Tortola.

If you're breathing, the Conch Life has got a training calendar for you, and this time there's no excuse for you to "conch" out.