Tim and Celia Miner: A Walking Love Story
For Tim Miner of Walk Virginia, walking is a critical part of his life. Inspired by the woman who would one day become his wife, Tim became committed to walking when he realized it was a way for him to become an athlete. Learn more about Tim’s extraordinary life as a walker: It’s enough to motivate even the most sedentary among us to lace up our shoes and start logging some steps!
When Tim Miner first got interested in walking, he had an ulterior motive: He wanted to get to know the woman he would eventually marry. They met at a conference in Illinois, where she was stationed at Scott Air Force Base. He asked her if they could get together that weekend, but Celia had other plans. An officer in the base’s volksmarching (walking) club, she was organizing a walk that Saturday.
“We can get together if you want to come on the walk with me,” she said.
So, Tim showed up Saturday morning. He helped her drive stakes in the ground for signs along the route. And, of course, he went on the walk. The next day, they went on another walk along a 10 km trail in downtown St. Louis. Step by step, they got to know each other and became a couple.
Years later, when they married and went on their honeymoon, walking factored prominently into their reception and travel plans. It continues to be an important part of their life together today.
“Celia got me hooked on walking,” Tim says. “It was my way of becoming an athlete.”
The world of volksmarching
Tim and Celia participate in volksmarching, a type of noncompetitive social walking that originated in Europe in the 1960s and came to the United States in 1976 with the formation of the American Volkssport Association (AVA).
AVA-sponsored volksmarches are typically one- or two-day events on trails three or six miles long. Participants carry logbooks and earn stamps and medals as they take part in volksmarches all over the world. The awards program is a great incentive for many participants.
There are several active volksmarching clubs in the U.S., including one in Arlington and others in surrounding communities. Besides being members of their local club, Tim and Celia also participate in international walks organized by the International Marching League (IML), another walking group formed by some elite volksmarchers in the ‘80s.
Organized walking has taken Tim and Celia all over the world and led to some impressive athletic accomplishments. For instance, both have earned the Queen of the Netherlands Walking Medal, which required them to walk 30 and 20 miles a day, respectively, over four consecutive days. They trained for it by walking back-to-back marathons on a Saturday and a Sunday.
“It was essentially like four Marine Corps Marathons taking place four days in a row,” Tim says. “And actually, even though Celia was only required to do 20 miles a day, she walked the whole event with me, logging 30 miles a day herself.”
Walking as a way of life
Although Tim and Celia walk primarily for fitness, they are always trying to get their steps in, so they make a conscious effort to walk as they go about their daily lives, as well.
“We wear our Fitbits and walk wherever we can,” he says. “Right now, there’s a big group of us who are virtually walking the Appalachian Trail through a program called Walk Tracker. So, I know whenever I walk the mile to the grocery store or take the stairs, I’m adding to my step count. Where we live is not as urban as an Arlington neighborhood like Clarendon, where you have so many activities within walking distance, but I do have a radius near my home of places that I walk. I walk at every opportunity I get.”
Nearly 20 years ago, Tim and Celia founded the U.S. FreedomWalk Festival: a three-day walking weekend sanctioned by the AVA and IML. For a while, it was the only IML event in the Western Hemisphere (a new event started last month in San Antonio). Participants can walk distances ranging from three miles to a half-marathon. It takes place annually in mid-October.
“It was a privilege to bring the FreedomWalk to Arlington,” Tim says. “Arlington is a great community that’s very in tune with walking.”
To learn more about Walk Virginia and the U.S. FreedomWalk Festival, and to find a walking club near you, visit their website.
Log your own miles like Tim by exploring Arlington’s 16-mile Arlington Loop Trail.