This club is made for walking

Thursday, October 30, 2003



Dottie Reed first joined the Princeton Area Walkers for a simple reason --- she wanted to lose weight.

However, that goal soon was pushed aside.  "I don't do it to lose weight anymore," the 58-year-old Manalapan resident said.  "I do it to stay in shape.  I'll give you an example --- everyone in my family has high cholesterol.  My cholesterol is normal, and I attribute that to my walking and the club."

Started in the early 1990s by Princeton resident David Scull, the Princeton Area Walkers is a walking club affiliated with the Texas-based American Volksport Association.  The AVA is a network of 350 walking clubs from around the country, which organize approximately 3,000 walks a year throughout the United States, according to the association's Web site,

Though it has Princeton in the name, members come from all over Central New Jersey and take part in walks all over the country.  The club's most recent event was a 10K walk through downtown Freehold on Oct. 18.

"Because of this club, I have been able to go places that I never would have been able to go," said former president Judie Travis, 58, of Marlboro.  "I have taken part in walks in North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado."

Though the club is made up of people of all ages, most of the 80 members are middle-aged, but there is one 14-year-old member. 

For many involved, the club is about staying healthy, setting goals, enjoying the outdoors and making new friends. 

Shortly after joining the club at the age of 50, Travis said that she set the goal of taking part in at least 50 walks a year, and she has done so every year since.

Likewise, Reed said she, along with another member, made it a goal to walk the New York City Marathon.  Two years ago she did that, covering the course in seven hours.

"It was the most wonderful experience of my life," Reed said.  "I felt like a movie star when I finished.  It was night, the flood lights were on, and they put a blanket around you.  It was wonderful.  And I owe it to the club."

And the walking is just not restricted to organized events, Travis said.  Often the members gather informally to walk throughout the Shore during the week or on weekends when there is no organized walk. 

"There is always someone to walk with," Travis said.

Although many of the club members pay a yearly membership fee to the AVA for items including a newsletter, membership in the Princeton Area Walkers is free, and organized walks are open to the public, Reed said.

"It's great you can just show up, and everything is done for you," Reed said.

The next event sponsored by the club is a 10K walk Saturday at Memorial Park in Ridgewood, Bergen County.  Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.

For more information, call Maureen Penta at (732) 229-8169.