Vinod Bajaj began his journey in August 2016 with a simple mission of losing some weight and getting fitter.
Four years and over 54,633,135 steps later, the 70-year-old has applied for a Guinness World Record after completing an Earth Walk – covering over 40,075 kilometres, equivalent to the circumference of the Earth when measured at the equator, in under 1,500 days. And, he has done all this without stepping out of his home city of Limerick in Ireland.
Bajaj recalls: “During the first three months of my walking seven days a week, I lost 8 kg by having a deficit of 700 calories per day. Over the next six months I lost a further 12 kg. The loss of weight was almost entirely due to walking and I did not have to change much of my eating habits.
“Typically, I started walking early in the morning and completed mostly in two intervals, the first one was always for a longer duration. There were many times I did the entire walk in a single attempt. Starting early allowed me to finish up by early afternoon, which gave me plenty of time to do things such as shopping, bank work, house and garden work.”
The retired engineer and business consultant was born in Punjab and grew up in Chennai and moved to Scotland in 1975 for a Master’s in Management from Glasgow. His work then took him to the Republic of Ireland 43 years ago, where he has been living with his family at Castletroy, Limerick, for 36 years, but has kept his India connect alive with regular visits. However, as for his walking feat, that was limited to a 10-km radius of Castletroy.
He also downloaded the Pacer activity tracker app on his smartphone to keep a complete track of his steps and its records flagged his major milestones along the way.
“By the end of the first year I walked 7,600 km and to my surprise I found that in fact I walked to India from Ireland. I continued walking and by the end of year two, I walked a cumulative total of 15,200 km and I found that in fact I walked more than the circumference of the moon (10,921 km). This motivated me further and I decided to walk the circumference of Mars (21,344 km),” he recalls.
“The difference between the Mars Walk and Earth Walk was approximately 19,000 km and I knew it was not going to be easy. I continued walking with an aim to complete my ultimate goal,” he says, in reference to his Earth Walk, which he completed on September 21.
His application with the Guinness World Record is currently under process as they assess if his walk covering the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference in 1,496 days and 54,633,135 steps makes the cut.
While he awaits a response on a potential world record, Bajaj is keen to spread the message that walking is the best form of exercise for all ages – better than running or jogging and it is free. Having run through 12 pairs of shoes, at an average three per year, during the course of his Earth Walk, his central advice is to invest in a good pair of walking shoes and socks.
“Loneliness will be the biggest walking challenge and can partially be overcome by listening to music or podcasts. Make the umbrella your best friend so that no weather will upset your walk plan and self-motivation, discipline, consistency and time management are key.”