A determined Golden Valley woman has walked 3 miles a day for 7,340 straight days.
Joan Monson enthusiastically welcomes anyone who wants to join her on her daily walk, but the invitation comes with a caveat: “You know that if it’s raining, we’re still going.”
If it’s raining or snowing, she’s still going. In the middle of a polar vortex or the midst of a heat wave, she’s still going. Through injury and heartbreak, she’s still going.
She has walked at least 3 miles every day for more than 20 years.
And she’s still going.
“There’s going to come a day when it’s going to end,” Monson, 74, said of her remarkable streak. “There was a time when I worried about that, but I don’t anymore. I look at it in five-year increments, and it seems far-fetched to me that I’ll make it through another five years.”
She paused before adding: “But it seemed far-fetched to me that I’d make it through the first five years.”
She walked on the day her husband of 51 years died. Her son and daughter urged her to do it, “although I don’t remember a thing about that walk.” She walked while on a mission trip to Guatemala, going around and around inside a courtyard after her hosts warned her that it was too dangerous to venture outside. And she walked in socks after a cracked bone in her ankle prevented her from wearing a shoe.
“It wasn’t really a problem,” she said of the three weeks that she went shoeless — which, by the way, did not involve an injury suffered while walking. “Although I did wear out a lot of socks.”
A retired St. Louis Park elementary school teacher, Monson does most of her walking through her neighborhood in Golden Valley. Doing laps inside a shopping mall doesn’t interest her, and the very suggestion of a treadmill makes her roll her eyes.
“I can’t stand treadmills,” she said. “There’s so much to look at outside.”
And people to meet. “I don’t know most of their names,” she admitted, “but you start recognizing people as you pass their house, and we wave.”
There also are pleasantries to exchange. Someone calls, “Finally, a nice day out!” She agrees, her manners keeping her from saying what she really thinks until later: “It’s been nice all along; they’ve just been inside.”
She dislikes icy sidewalks, but otherwise, she takes the seasons in stride.
“There’s not a day that I wish I weren’t out here,” she said.
Lollie Eidsness of St. Louis Park is one of her frequent walking partners. She doesn’t even try to talk Monson into yielding to the weather.
“Some of those winter days when there’s a 40-below windchill, my husband will say, ‘You’re not going out today, are you?’ ” Eidsness said. “We do it. If I don’t go, she’ll do it, anyway.”
Try to keep up
Monson moves along at a brisk 15-minute-per-mile pace. “It’s not just a stroll,” she insisted.