The planet is a very big place, and it is unlikely any of us will see more than a bit of it during our lifetimes. Many people choose to live their lives with vacations to tropical destinations on occasion, but then there are those who love adventure and are captured by wanderlust, which drives them to see the world. Some will drive, take a train, or fly to exotic destinations, while others will choose to do something a bit more hard core; running or walking. Yep, that’s right; there are people who will take the journey around the world using nothing but their feet.
Born in 1939 in Caledonia, Minnesota, Dave Kunst is the first person verified to have walked completely around the world. Beginning his journey on June 20, 1970, he walk would take him a total of four years, finishing on October 5, 1974. He began in Waseca, Minnesota with his brother John, with nothing but $1,000, a mule named Willie Makeit, a scroll to be signed by officials along the way and a letter of recommendation by Senator Hubert Humphrey. Kunst walked to New York City, and then flew to Portugal where he picked up a second mule after leaving Willie in the United States. Walking with his brother across Europe, they met Princess Grace in Monaco. Along the way, they collected donations for UNICEF. Sadly, a reporter reported they carried the donations with them (which they did not) and John was shot and killed by bandits in Afghanistan in October 1972. Dave was shot as well, but survived by playing dead. He spent four months recovering and then continued his journey from the spot where John was killed, with his brother Pete. They made their way from India to Australia by flying, and from Australia on Dave continued alone. It was in Australia, near Perth, where he met Jenni Samuel who helped haul his wagon after his mule died. After finishing his journey, he returned to Australia and married Jenni. In all, it is estimated through his travels he walked 20,000,000 steps and used 21 pairs of shoes.
Known as the Running-man, Robert Garside is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person to have ever run around the world. Beginning his journey on October 20, 1997 from New Delhi, India, Garside continued his run around the world until he was back in New Delhi on June 13, 2003.
After becoming obsessed with running in the mid-1980s, he noticed there was no record for running around the world, only walking. To prepare for his run, he would job eight hours a day for 50 miles per day on flat ground. During the run he updated his website with his laptop and carried nothing but a video camera and his backpack with the laptop inside. Over the course of his journey, he covered 35,000 miles through 30 countries.
Rosie Swale-Pope is a breed apart from the rest of us. Before she had ever ran around the world, she became the first woman to sail single-handed across the Atlantic in a small boat, she tracked 3,000 miles through Chile alone on horseback and wrote several books. However, it was after the death of her husband at the age of 73 in 2002 that Rosie made the decision to run around the world to raise money for prostate cancer research. She chose to run around the northern hemisphere who no support crew, minimal sponsorship and only base supplies. Beginning on her 57th birthday on October 2, 2003 she ran to Moscow, arriving on April 5, 2004. She reached Magadan in far eastern Russia on September 15, 2005 and by October 2006 she arrived in Edmonton, Canada. She was able to reach New York City on October 2, 2007. She then flew from Newfoundland to Iceland on January 24, 2008. By June 18, 2008, she arrived in Scotland and was able to run the rest of the way home on August 25, 2008. With nothing but a cart that carried supplies and was made for her to sleep in, she had her sun update the website so people could see where she was in the world. It was not all fun for her though. At Lake Baikal in Russia, she fell ill from a tick bite and nearly wandered into the path of a bus. She was taken to hospital where she recovered soon after. In Alaska, she nearly froze to death and got severe frostbite on her foot near the Yukon River. The Alaskan National Guard helped her treat her frostbite so she could continue to run. Through it all she ran for five years, dealt with three packs of wolves and went through 53 pairs of shoes.