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Bar Harbor woman completes “Walk the Year” challenge

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 5:11 PM EST
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BAR HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - There’s a woman in Bar Harbor woman went through four pairs of sneakers in 2021, just from walking. She’s completed a “Walk the Year” challenge, and is already looking forward to wearing out four more pairs of shoes in 2022.

Lilea Simis says it started as a challenge from a friend out of state; to travel on foot 2,021 miles in a year’s time- about the equivalent of the distance between Town Hill in Bar Harbor, and Dallas, Texas.

“When I sat down and did the math, I realized it was going to be about five-and-a-half to six miles a day,” Simis said. “There is a program out there called ‘Run the Year,’ but I don’t run, so I said, ‘Well, I’ll walk it.’”

Simis and her dog Quintin did most of those miles in Acadia National Park, with the first walk being a hike up Sargent Mountain last New Years Day, with the hopes of seeing a good omen.

“I really wanted to see a Snowy Owl, to sort of give me that, ‘Everything is going to be able to work, you’re going to be able to do this.’ And we did see a Snowy Owl.”

Almost eleven months and a couple-thousand miles later, she nearly finished the challenge where it started, hiking Sargent Mountain on Thanksgiving.

“I got back to my car and I had one mile left. So the next day Quinton and I walked a trail in Town Hill and then celebrated. I had a big cookie bone for him and a hot tea for me.’

Normally an individual clearing a benchmark like walking more than two-thousand miles in less than a year is enough for a story like this, but it turns out sharing that journey along the way on social media served a far more important purpose.

“I had some relatives that were really shut in from COVID, and then a few days I didn’t post and I would get private messages, like, ‘Are you ok? What happened?’ So then I realized that someone was paying attention, and that was very motivating because I knew there were people out there looking forward to drinking their coffee and looking at my pictures.”

After the ball drops this weekend, Lilea will begin the challenge of walking 2,022 miles before the end of the year 2022.

“I’m hooked. I’m hooked and I hope it inspires.”

And she’ll do it with a mantra that’s good for any year.

“Keep moving, be kind to yourself and stay well!”

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