Idar (72) on 800 kilometer long walk

Idar Gjertsen på pilegrimsvandringIdar Gjertsen (72) is a participant in our major research project on exercise in the elderly, Generation 100. Last year he impressed the young pilgrims in Spain during his two week pilgrimage, and now he has started on a new tour. It began in St. Jean de Pied de Port in France close to the Spainish border on April 28th. His goal is the famous pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela about 815 km away. Also this year, we will share some glimpses of his trip here on the blog.

April 27th:
Now my pulse is high. Am I sure this is a smart plan…?
Tomorrow I will go to the airport. I will stay for one night in Bayonne. The next morning I shall proceed to St. Jean de Pied de Port where I will stamp in my pilgrim passport, firmly grasp my new light poles and then I start this year’s Camino.

Read also: Can exercise training prevent premature death in elderly?

Tough first day

April 28th:
Hola! Made it! Arrived at Roncevalles yesterday evening at 20.20 more dead than alive. It went well from St. Jean de Pied de Port to Col de Lepoeder, climbing from 240 to 1450 meters, but then downhill the last 4 km. I think we spent over 4 hours on those 4 km. My backpack dragged me backwards and my legs stopped working. But after the world’s longest kilometer, we staggered into the square in front of the hostel Roncevalles.

Soaking wet

May 1st:
have arrived in Zubiri and Alberg El Palo de Avelonne. They lack a clothes drying cabinet. It could have been useful to hang my clothes up to dry. It has rained today. I started a little late from Roncevalles after my rest day at La Posada, but found my speed and held it for 22 km. The body is fine, but I’ve cheated, for my backpack went with a taxi, and is waiting for me in the hostel. Nothing special today apart from a slippery and muddy road. Passed about 200-250 slow-moving pilgrims. Have collected several nationalities along the road. There are very many from Australia this year. Buen Camino, compadres ….

Read also: How do we do research on older adults physical activity?

Drama along the way

May 2nd:
Things happens along the Camino!
The road was very slippery and halfway to Pamplona it was blocked with  around 10 pilgrims. One lay in a sleeping bag on the muddy road. Camino stop for him. He had slipped and hurt himself quite hard, but he claimed that everything was okay. A few hundred meters further down the trail, I met the ambulance personnel. Can imagine they were happy when they discovered a slim and wiry American. Safe trip home for him. Just then I met an Englishman who told me that it was Saturday. The post office will unfortunately be closed! Another day of rest and this one is completely unnecessary, but Pamplona is a nice town!

Nice day trip

May 6th:
It is a little miracle, but now I have kind of gotten into the rhythm that may send me all the way to Santiago. The path is dotted with nice people along the way, some are tired already, someone don’t know quite what they have gotten into. Some have a support vehicle and some send their luggage to their next stop. I probably will do that too on the longest days. Yesterday I was tired. Today I am very happy. Estella to Los Arcos is a nice day trip.

Read also: Dementia and physical activity – what do we know?

Idar Gjertsen, participant in Generation 100

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