Planning a Battlefield Pilgrimage?  Try Getting Fit First!

The battlefields can be explored and appreciated so much easier if one is fit. This is not meant to put down my fellow Americans (and myself), but to encourage all of us to get into the best shape possible BEFORE traveling to Europe for a battlefield pilgrimage.

During my eight months living in France in 2017-18 it was clear that, adjusted for age, Europeans are far more fit than Americans. On Saturday 18 June (just a few weeks ago at the time of this writing) Iain Roy McHenry and Markus Klauer reported taking (different) walks in excess of 16km / 10 miles that day on the WW1 battlefields–in spite of temperatures hotter than 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). I walk two miles a day in the U.S. and think I’m doing well. I think I need to step it up–at least do a longer walk every now and then.

I am reminded of several of my American clients who were in good shape. Before his 2017 visit, Bruce Blanchart walked three miles a day in the U.S. and had no problems keeping up. After an exhausting 2017 visit Andrew Pouncey succeeded in losing quite a few pounds before his 2018 visit, and that made our battlefield walks much easier for him. Carl Priest and Bob Schardt are two more clients who were in great shape, because of their active outdoor lifestyles.

I understand that physical ailments and age can make it difficult. But American’s sedentary lifestyle and diets containing highly processed foods also get in the way. The point is: Do as much as you can to get yourself in shape before going “over there.” You will be glad you did!

Since writing these words in Facebook, we’ve received several positive comments. Here are two of them:

From Iain Roy McHenry: “I echo your comments there mate. I’ll be honest, I’ve been on a weight loss campaign through walking and since 5th February this year have walked an average of 12.2 miles a day and lost 56.4 lbs and three trouser sizes on the way!

Taking it to the battlefields is important as you know there is no better way of getting an appreciation of the ground over which the men fought than by walking it.

You can read all you want and drive over the fields, but the appreciation you get by walking the ground will glue a lot of the information you have together, giving you a better understanding.

So, any of your friends, clients, etc. reading this and that are capable of going out to walk in preparation for a battlefield visit, then do so! You won’t regret it.”

From Susi Adler: “I would like to add one more incentive to get in shape for a battlefield tour now versus later. You never know what will happen to your health. Todd Hintz was in great shape until 16 months ago when he was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Now, Todd’s limbs don’t listen to instructions from his brain and walking is difficult. Today we visited the Cheppy German Cemetery. With assistance, Todd could get out of the car and walk to just inside the cemetery. He rested on a walker while I took photo of the grave markers on our list. The 20 foot walk back to the car wore him out. Todd took one of Randy Gaulke’s tours in 2018 and especially loved the Lost Battalion which was a very physical tour. He had no issues then and it is one of his favorite memories of our many trips to the Meuse-Argonne. We are so glad we did everything on our list before health issues limited our options.”

#kdih #kneedeepintohistory #ww1tours #ww2tours #battlefieldtours

Featured image photo was taken by Dave Gaddis in September 2018.

Leave a Reply