This year marks the start of Jack Newberry’s fourth lap of the equator. Not literally, as that would require a fair amount of swimming, and the Oak Bay senior prefers to walk.
At 78, he’s walked the equivalent of three trips around the globe over the two decades since his retirement.
When he finished his career as VP of Administration and Finance for the University of Northern BC, he returned to Victoria, where his prior career groomed him for our walking weather. (He worked for the Ministry of Advanced Education with his PhD in advanced education. “I was the number two person in the WAC Bennett days,” he said.)
He did live in Prince George for three years, but Victoria was always home and he retired to the Clover Point area.
In 1997 he walked 1,799 miles (the former school teacher says he taught students during the conversion to metric but continues measure in Imperial).
“Everything one reads about aging, they invariably say to stay active. It keeps you sharper mentally and keeps you healthy,” he said.“I just started walking and found I enjoy it. There was just no downside to it.”
Two years ago he moved to Carlton House in Oak Bay.
His walks amped up.
The senior’s residence means “no shopping, no cooking, no laundry,” he says.
So most mornings and afternoons are filled with walks.
He heads out of Carlton House on Oak Bay Avenue to the beach, then around to McNeill Bay and up the shoreline in a 12-mile round-trip. “Then I have my lunch and a bit of a nap,” he says.
In the afternoon, Newberry often heads up Foul Bay Road to Fort Street down to Government and takes the waterfront to Ogden Point then through Fairfield and back up Foul Bay home again. It adds up to roughly 24 or 25 miles a day.
“I try to do that every day,” he said, adding he does on occasion walk to the Back Doctors, his son Dr. Michael Newberry’s chiropractic practice at Harriet and Burnside instead.
Newberry measures his goals annually; the equator comparison is just a fun figure.
“It’s more knowing where I’m at (in the goal) than hitting a target,” he said.
The daily average for 2016 was 18.6 miles a day.
Walking is a low-cost activity, though he splurges on the good boots, orthotics and weather gear. While he won’t start out in a deluge, sometimes those spring up in our fickle weather climate. A good watch measures his mileage.
He reached his goal of walking 6,000 miles well before the end of 2016. His target for 2017 is 7,000 miles.
Thoughts during those walks are similar to when he was a younger man, working as a public servant and living near Cook and Fort.
“I used to go home and change into shorts and running shoes and run down to the water and up Oak Bay Avenue and back to Fort,” he said.
“On that route I would think about all the problems of the day. Having a silent chance to think about these things you come to some solutions.”
He’d start the next day with fresh ideas.
“I don’t get bored. I’m not reacting to the scenery, it’s a matter of the fitting in new facts and ideas into a (mental) framework,” he said. “it’s a mental process. That’s why I don’t get bored.”
He does notice the environment, which birds stop and when, and enjoys a visit with the seals on occasion.
“It is a very positive environment. It is a very nice place to live,” he said.
Being with his thoughts and keeping tabs on the environment just enhance the effect of the long walks.
“It’s really the health effect,” Newberry said. “Doing the exercise, getting exercise keeps you limber. I would encourage people to stay active. Staying active, that’s different than becoming active … if you do that and do it carefully you probably will last a lot longer and have a better quality of life.”