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70-year-old woman has walked every street in a Virginia city
Sep 19

By JORDAN SIMAL, The News Virginian

WAYNESBORO, Va. (AP) _ For retired Waynesboro resident Virginia Hanifl, it's important to have goals.

It's also never too late to start another one.

Just last month at 70 years old, Hanifl accomplished her goal of walking through every street in the city of Waynesboro.

While the accomplishment only happened just recently, her love of walking has always been a part of who she is.

``Since I've come to Virginia, it's become more of a passion because I just love the mountains,'' Hanifl said. ``But I've always walked. I used to be a runner, but I didn't do that very long. Walking is so much easier and you can take in everything around you easier.''

Throughout her time in Waynesboro, Hanifl has enjoyed her walks throughout the city. However, that doesn't mean she always enjoys them alone.

Since they first met in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Virginia's husband, Joe, has known all about her passion for walking. Eventually when the time came to leave the Midwest, there was only one appropriate place for the couple to start the next chapter of their lives.

``Virginia and I got married just a couple of years before we both retired,'' Hanifl said. ``Once she finally quit working, we talked about moving away from all the cold and snow up there. I said, `Where do you want to go?' and she says, `My name's Virginia!'''

Once the couple moved to Waynesboro in 2015, Virginia got right to business and quickly began enjoying her first walks throughout the city. However, it wasn't until this past spring where she and her husband realized that she was on track to potentially do something incredible.

``When we moved to Waynesboro, I started doing my walking and I don't like to go to the same place,'' Hanifl said. ``I started venturing out and just started doing the neighborhoods around Waynesboro. Just this spring, I started thinking, `Wouldn't that be kind of cool to do all of the city streets as a goal for my 70th birthday?'''

Hanifl soon found a map of the city and started marking the streets she had already walked through in red ink. By that point, she noticed that had already done a decent number of them. Soon, Joe began getting involved and started driving Virginia to the remaining streets she had yet to walk.

From there, he'd either wait in the car at the end of a particular street to pick her up or join in on the walk with her.

Hanifl enjoys the walks with his wife, saying it's great to be with her and just enjoy the sights and sounds of the neighborhood, like seeing the differences in his neighbors' and friends' homes over the years. He also enjoys walks near Orchard Creek golf course, where he often exercises by hitting the links.

With golf, it's well known that adverse weather can quickly throw plans into chaos.

However, while Joe's tee time may be thrown off by less-than-favorable weather, he knows that Virginia would never let that stop her from getting her exercise in.

``Every day, rain or shine, she doesn't care how cold it is,'' Hanifl said. ``She's got to be out there. '

For Virginia, walking isn't just as simple as heading out the door whenever she feels like it over the course of her week. There's a daily routine that has to be followed.

Beginning at 5 a.m. every day, Hanifl starts her day by going through her devotions for an hour. Then, she begins her core exercises and strength training for about another hour.

Once these have been completed, then it's finally time to head out the front door at 7:30 a.m. to begin a walk that can average anywhere from four to five miles.

Should it be a day where she'll be working her part-time job at Twice as Nice off of Main Street, she'll try to walk at least three miles.

When not joined by her husband, Hanifl can occasionally be seen enjoying a morning walk with her good friend Myra Robertson, who has joined Virginia both in the streets of Waynesboro and on the hiking trails of Shenandoah National Park.

Robertson, a retired nurse, finds Hanifl's accomplishment incredible and supports whatever goal her friend sets next.

``I think it's amazing that she has walked every street in the city,'' Robertson said. ``It's an awesome task and just blows my mind because there's so many streets (and) so many miles.''

Robertson additionally finds Hanifl's story to be motivating, as one's age should never stop someone from living an active lifestyle.

``She is an inspiration to me because I always thought I was in fairly good shape, but when I met Virginia, I realized how lacking I am in staying with it and keeping with an exercise program,'' Robertson said. ``She inspires me to keep going, get out the door and walk. She's taught me a lot about different exercises and just life. You know, when you walk or hike with somebody, you get to know them pretty good.''

As for what's next for Hanifl, she and Robertson are currently working towards completing the Shenandoah 500 Challenge, which means the two could soon hike every trail in Shenandoah National Park and eventually become members of the Shenandoah 500 Mile Club.

Hanifl also added that walking through every street in other local towns and cities remains a possibility.

``You never know,'' said Hanifl, smiling. ``I have walked quite a bit in Staunton ... I could make that a goal.''

Additionally, both women remain excited for the city's development on the upcoming greenway project at Sunset Park. Once completed, Hanifl said she'll be one of the first to walk it and plans on exploring every path and trail that will be made.

If the city needs a hand, she's also more than willing to help volunteer to get the job done, saying she ``would love to help out to get the project going.''

In the meantime, Hanifl encouraged those interested in adding some exercise into their daily routine to lace up their sneakers and enjoy nice, long walks in Waynesboro _ a lifestyle that the retiree doesn't see herself stopping any time soon.

``If you go out for a walk, you feel better,'' Hanifl said. ``You really do. You just have to make your mind realize that.''


By The Associated Press, Copyright 2021

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