Tony Pierson on the 50 Mile Walk

Tony Pierson wears a Whole Earth t-shirt on the 50 Mile Walk. 

On Friday February 8th, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast a story on Robert F. Kennedy’s 50 mile walk. The gist of the story was Robert F. Kennedy taking on a challenge issued to the Marines by his brother President John F. Kennedy to walk 50 miles in one day. The President jokingly suggested that his staff take on the challenge as well. So the next day, in the snow, slush and freezing temperatures, Robert F. Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney General, walked 50 miles in one day from Great Falls, Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C., to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. And he did it with no training and in business shoes.

50 Mile Walk 2012 route

At the Whole Earth offices we wondered how Kennedy had done it. We decided that, in a famously competitive family, a challenge by an older brother, who also happened to be President, would offer sufficient motivation for even the craziest feat. The fact that the Press Corps was on the scene by mile 25 may have been an added encouragement. Little did we know that back East, Earthling Sarah Pierson had also heard the NPR story and that there would be a 50th anniversary walk the next day. She mentioned it to her husband, Tony Pierson. By 7 p.m. Friday evening, Tony had decided to participate in the Walk and at 4 a.m. was at the starting line with about 30 other walkers.

50 Mile Walkers at the starting line.

Walkers at the starting line


As Tony tells it, “A 50 mile hike… how hard could it be? We have been training for 26 miles in full uniform, carrying a 35 pound ruck [for the Bataan Memorial Death March]. But 50 miles was a real challenge while carrying about 15 pounds of supplies and wearing cold weather gear. Next year I will try to prepare. We averaged not quite 4 mph, but did stop a few times to take in calories. Overall it was a lot of fun.” Tony was also thankful that Sarah not only humored him but brought him Gatorade, protein bars and a Pepsi at mile 33.

So a big Whole Earth congratulations to Tony Pierson for completing the Robert F. Kennedy 50 Mile Walk!