March 28, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz…..

He is not a recognised athlete. He is not a runner. He is not even a competitor. He has not won medals in races. But what he is doing is something that most of us in general and athletes in particular, do not even dream of.

98 years old ERNIE ANDRUS is crossing America on foot. This is not just first time that he is doing this. He had crossed America at the age of 93, and is now again tracking back the same route. Some may consider him a crazy person, but he is just a man that I always and still want to be. Yes I always want to enter into such astonishing adventures.

Back in 1974, when I was about 19 years old, my father was appointed as liaison officer, with an engineer sent by the World Bank, to carry out some research about water distribution in Karachi city (Pakistan). My father at that time was Financial Adviser in the Karachi Development Authority. Apart from the development of good friendship between the two, my father was introduced to the National Geographic Magazine for the first time by that American Engineer.

So I also then read the National Geographic Magazine for the first time. The first issue that I came across was having an adventure walk of a young couple across America. They had travelled from west to east (or was it from east to west, I am not sure now). The magazine had published a detailed story about them and there were many photos. I was thrilled to read all that. Perhaps that was the first time that I had seriously developed a liking for adventures. In other words that was the beginning point of my never ending thirst for adventure.

Returning back to 98 years old Ernie Andrus, I found some material on the internet about him. Born in 1923, he participated in the second World War, in the American Navy.

He is said to raise money for LST 325 Ship Memorial. He had been one of the crew on one such ship during the world war.

Returning back to his adventure. He had started his first cross America walk on 7th October 2013 at San Diego (Pacific ocean), and finished it about 3 years later on 16th March 2019, at Saint Simons Island (Atlantic Ocean). He was 90 when starting off and ended it at the age of 93.

Later on, he went out for different short distance walks, but as he said, he got bored, so he decided to re-trace his previous route, and returned back to start his trans-america walk, from the point where he had finished three years earlier. He is still on his way, doing 13 miles a week.

His doctors have diagnosed him with congestive heart failure, but he is still moving ahead and says that he wants to die with his running shoes on.

That indeed is what I always dream of. I strongly believe that one day I will be doing any such long long walk, from some particular point on the earth to some other point.  “You may say I am a Dreamer”.


Source: Photos courtesy of Ernie Andrus Facebook page

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