Stephan Nisbet, a retired journalist living in Edinburgh, Scotland, sent us his experience of attending the rainiest Great Saunter. Being from Scotland, this Saunter for him was just another walk in the rain. Justine Watel, cold, with muscles cramping, and now walking alone with about 4 miles left to reach Fraunces Tavern, pushes through when another Saunterer approaches. Together, chatting and walking, they give each other the motivation and strength each needs to finish. Susan Ori, coming up from Florida to attend the Great Saunter is in for a family surprise at Fraunces Tavern on this Mother’s Day weekend. We close with a video of images showing the meaning of Saunter Strong on this thirty-fifth anniversary Great Saunter.


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Just Another Walk in the Rain
by Stephan Nisbet

A big thank you to all concerned in arranging the Saunter last weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the northern 50 percent of it, starting at West 96th Street level (where my hotel is) and peeling off at the same latitude on the east side to walk back across Central Park to my starting point.

I felt quite at home weather-wise because it felt like a typical Scottish summer’s day with all the rain – easily the least congenial weather I’ve had so far in my 11-day stay in Manhattan! Hats off to your teams of volunteers who so cheerfully and helpfully kept us all on track, watered and refreshed. Standing around in the wet can’t have been much fun, but they never showed it. The scenery on the Upper West Side of the route, especially beyond the Little Red Lighthouse, was surprisingly wild for a first-time foreign visitor to this part of Manhattan, particularly when in places the New Jersey shore across the water also looked like untamed Scottish wilderness!

Two of the American walkers I chatted with along the way had fond memories of visiting Scotland as tourists which is always nice to hear. One of them remarked on the number of my bib which you kindly delivered to the Hotel Newton for me. All the other bibs I saw were three or four digits so number “6” seemed to mark me out as some kind of VIP!

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In the Company of Saunterers
by Justin Watrel

Justin Watrel with Certificate of Completion

I was on my way to South Street Seaport. This part of the walk meant walking under overhangs, bridge over-passes and the housing, a combination of new and old construction.

The rain was really getting to me, and I was not sure if I could keep going. The muscles in my legs were really getting to me because of the cold. It went from 54 to 45 degrees by the time I got to Lower Manhattan. I just happened to meet up with a businessman from Fort Lee, NJ who I had seen hours earlier on the other side of the island. He asked if he could walk the rest of the way with me and I said yes. It was nice to have someone to talk with for the rest of the trip.

The rain and clouds got so bad that I could barely see things in the harbor. It looked like it was trying to clear and by 5:00PM it finally stopped raining. We had been walking under the highway underpass by South Street Seaport and the two of us started to dry out.

I have to say that I never get tired of seeing Lady Liberty. I still can’t believe that I am seeing the same statue that both of my grandfathers’ saw when they arrived in this country. It puts it all into perspective how powerful of a symbol it is to this country as a way of welcoming people to the United States.

This was our last stop before heading back to Fraunces Tavern. My walking partner and I for the last four miles of the trip had talked most of the time about our careers and families and about why we took the walk. The time just flew from there. I learned that his wife and her friend had made it all the way to Inwood Park before they took the subway back downtown and then home.

We walked to the registration desk in front of the Fraunces Tavern and collected our certificates that we completed the walk. We then took our picture with our certificates and then said our goodbyes. He then told me that he probably could not have finished the walk without me, and I felt the same way. I needed someone to keep pace with me and help me finish this difficult day. I warmed up in the restaurant for a bit and then took the subway back uptown and then the bus home.

Excerpt from Justin’s  blog post – Day One Hundred and Sixty-Seven: “The Great Saunter Walk”: Walking the Entire Rim of Manhattan-32 miles on my own-Father’s Day June 21, 2020 (Again on June 25th, 2021, and officially on May 7th, 2022) | mywalkinmanhattan

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Supporting Mother
by Susan Ori

I flew up from Florida to walk The Great Saunter for the second time. The first was in 2019 with my son, Mike, who had just moved to Manhattan. Mike did not want to do the full walk again, so I joined Iris R. and John C. to walk 34 miles in 10 hours – rain the whole way. Mike joined us at 96th street for the final 8 miles.  

As we were slogging along, John had suggested envisioning the end instead of dwelling on the wet moment, so as we got closer to  Fraunces Tavern I was thinking about a finishing photo, a certificate, and a beer. I was totally shocked to see my husband and younger son Matt waiting with signs at the end. They had flown up from Florida to surprise me for Mother’s Day! We all went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Sunday. It was a Mother’s Day weekend – and a Great Saunter – that I will never forget. 

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Video Slide Show:

 

 

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