A LIMERICK pensioner completed a four-year odyssey last Monday when he walked the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference without leaving his neighbourhood.
70-year-old Vinod Bajaj from Castletroy is now seeking an official Guinness World Record for walking 40,075 kilometres since August 18, 2016 when he embarked on a weight loss regime.
He downloaded an activity tracker on his phone to monitor progress and record his steps. After the first year, he found he had walked the same distance as the journey from Ireland to his native India.
Then he thought, “what’s next?”
“By the end of the first year I walked 7,600km and to my surprise I found that, in fact, I had walked to India from Ireland,” said Bajaj, a former senior manager with Dell Computers, who has lived in Ireland for the past 46 years.
By the end of year two, he had walked 15,200km, more than the moon’s circumference (10,921km).
“So I thought to myself again, what now, Mars.”
After completing the circumference of Mars (21,344km) Bajaj “focussed on Earth (40,075km)”.
The retired engineer and business consultant said he stayed within a 10km radius of his home, often walking up to 10 hours at a time with only small breaks for the toilet.
His diet was mainly “nuts and bananas”, food easily consumed on the go.
“On hot days“ he telephoned his wife who would hand him an “ice cream“ as he passed by their house on his circuit.
He consumed packed “sandwiches” on his longer walks. On his best day, he clocked up 55km.
Vinod continued walking through the coronavirus lockdown last March, safely setting off each morning around 5.30am on a reduced 5km circuit.
“I listened to India news on my headphones, followed by two hours of Morning Ireland on RTE and then SKY News. I would know what was going on in the world before everyone else got up out of bed,” he said.
The father-of-one completed his remarkable journey on September 21, after raking up a total of 40,107km “in all kinds of weather”.
“At first, my wife was not very pleased because she was worried my health would be affected. She felt I might break my knees, so I didn’t tell anyone at the start, and then eventually she agreed, so it’s fine,” he said.
“If I told her I was going to walk the circumference of the earth anti-clockwise, I think she might have had a heart attack”.
“The difference between Mars and Earth was approximately 19,000km and I knew it was not going to be easy. I’m feeling fine now, but none of this was planned”.
His weight reduced from 81kg (12 st 7 lbs) to 60kg (9 st 4 lbs).
Vinod puts the three-and-a-half stone weight loss almost entirely due to walking, adding, “I did not have to change much of my eating habits”.
“Your mind is free, you are stress free, ideas come to the mind, and you are very calm.”
He calculates that he went through 12 pairs of shoes, lost 1.568 million calories and walked 54.6 millions steps in 8,322 hours.
He has submitted an application to Guinness World Records claiming that he is the first person to have walked the distance equal to the circumference of the earth in under 1500 days.
They have informed him that they hope to verify his claim within 12 weeks before making a decision.