Saturday, 19 June 2010

George Meegan

While surfing the net the other day I came across this list of people who have walked, or are in the process of walking, around the world. Coming in at number five is George Meegan.

Strictly speaking, Meegan didn't walk around the world. He does, however, hold the record for the longest unbroken walk, established when he journeyed on foot some 30,600km from Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America to the northern tip of Alaska. The walk took him six years and eight months, during which time he married his Japanese fiancee, Yoshiko Matsumoto, and fathered two children.

Some two decades after Meegan completed his epic walk, the elder of these two children, Ayumi Meegan, traveled to San Fransisco where she met Tyler MacNiven (who later gained fame - and half of the one-million-dollar prize money - as co-winner of season nine of The Amazing Race). MacNiven fell in love with Ayumi, and in an effort to impress her (and no doubt her father), he hatched a plan to walk the length of Japan. He completed his walk in 2004 and later made an hour-long documentary about his exploits, Kintaro Walks Japan, which can be viewed at Google Video.

Today, George Meegan shares his time between England and Japan, where he holds a position as associate professor at the Graduate School of Maritime Sciences at Kobe University. He stood as an independent candidate in the recent UK General Election, campaigning on a platform of reforming the education system, which he regards as ignoring the needs of children who don't fit into the school system.

George Meegan makes a brief appearance part way through Kintaro Walks Japan. His intensity and his enthusiasm for walking are plain to see, but he doesn't seem entirely comfortable. In an earlier interview on Larry King Live, an excerpt of which is included in Kintaro Walks Japan, he comes across as confident and media savvy, yet an article in Backpacker magazine from the late-1980s describes him as having a distaste for publicity. He appears to be something of an enigma. Perhaps not "out of his mind" (as suggested in the same Backpacker article), but definitely an eccentric.

Distance walked since last post: 6km
Total distance walked since Koshu Kaido training began: 53.7km
Days left until departure: 89

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