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It was a Friday morning when I sat down with 69-year-old Ron Marr. Ron has been a member of the YMCA for a little over five years. He has always been a pretty active person, but needed something to motivate him to get back on track. So, he took the advice of an old friend and joined the YMCA. It is here where Ron spends about six days a week working out. He walks four to five miles a day on the indoor track, plays basketball and lifts weights. His workout routine usually takes him about two hours to complete.

Not only has Ron enjoyed the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, he has made many friends at the YMCA. Frequently, there is a group of friends in the early morning sitting in the lobby drinking coffee, laughing and talking. Don Van Houten is one of the friends that Ron has made over the last couple years. They both have a fondness of exercise and pushing their limits. Don is a multi-marathoner with almost 70 marathons under his belt. After some discussion, Don and Ron decided to plan a hike on the trails of Camino del Notre.

The Camino del Norte or the Northern Way is a route along the Northern coast of Spain. It starts in the town of Irun, near the French border and follows the Atlantic coast through the Basque country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. This Camino walk crosses some of the most spectacular scenery of the Northern Coast of Spain. The trail is about 507 miles long.  It will take them about 34 days to complete, stopping and staying in hostels on the way. They will walk about 18 miles a day on mountainous terrain.

Because the terrain is so different from the flatlands of Springfield, Illinois, Ron has been practicing on the stairs at the YMCA. Last week he walked the stairs sixty times with a 25lb backpack on his back. Ron is excited about the trip, eager to see the beauty that this area holds and motivated to finish it in its entirety. When I asked him how his wife reacted to plans he said “she’s excited for me and supports me.” Ron says to do a trip like this you need four essential things; money, motivation, physical ability and a wife who is understanding. We look forward to hearing about their trip and wish them both luck this summer.


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