Photo by Jennifer Scheidies
On April 30th, 2020, I lost a dear friend, Mark Schiedies, after a tragic fall accident a few days earlier. He was known to many as the Longmont Street Walker, as he walked every street of Longmont in 2013.
He totaled 1,525,580 steps in 280 hours and 28 minutes, covering approximately 750 miles, one neighborhood at a time. His rule was that he would not use a motor vehicle to get to the start points (and back), but rather bike or more walking. 71 neighborhoods in 71 days. If you haven't met him it's because he was a solo walker and he did all this by himself.
Mark made Longmont his hometown in 1983 when he moved with his wife Jennifer. Together they had a life full of software testing, parenting their 3 children, chess tournaments, trivia games (he was close to getting on Jeopardy a couple of times), theater (that's how we met) and office work at Jennifer's dental office. I met the Schiedies in 2009 through the theater circle, although I have never worked with Mark in a play, only with Jennifer.
His Longmont Street Walker project started from the desire to get to be active again and also from curiosity: "I also tend to be rather focused on the road when I’m driving (which I can’t say for all people!?!). So even though I’ve driven a street many times, there are still things that I will notice walking that I have never noticed driving.". He was a runner in his 20's and 30's, ran a couple of marathons (including Pikes Peak marathon in the 1980's) and always finished near top 10%. Over time, he got to be more inactive and gained a couple of pounds. He didn't think he could back into running, but he didn't gain any injuries either, so he decided for 2013 to walk more and filling the map of Longmont was his new goal.
He took as many photos on his walks as he could: yard decorations, park signs, shopping signs, views of the mountains, trails, etc., whatever looked of interest to him. A couple of blogs and more about Mark can be found on his blog Longmont Street Walker.
In an earlier Times Call article in June 2013 he notes: " “I did it for a lot of reasons including exercise and getting to know Longmont better, but really it’s about the memories,” Scheidies said. “My mom uses a walker now and she couldn’t do something like this,” he said. “This is something I’ll remember and have pictures from even to remind me of the walks that I took.”"
Photos by Lewis Geyer, Times Call
The local newspaper The Times Call also documented the final part of the journey through his own neighborhood. "The walks took him through Longmont neighborhoods “I didn’t know were even there, to tell the truth,” said Scheidies, who started his strolls in the eastside Stoney Ridge neighborhood where he’d lived for about 13 years."
Photo by Lewis Geyer, Times Call.
But the fame of his project didn't end with making it into the newspaper. A local first grade teacher, Mrs. Kelly Sanseverino, learned about his project while visiting the Schiedies' dental office. She immediately thought of introducing him to her class. "First grade studies communities every year and I thought it would be a great local connection so I took his business card and later invited him to our class. He gave a small presentation about what he was doing and answered some questions. The class followed up by following his blog to look at all of his pictures and find their own streets and neighborhoods. In fact, one of our students lived in his neighborhood which he chose for his final walk." Kelly said.
Photos by Jennifer Schiedies
First grade also used to study about celebrations and when looking for authentic ways to celebrate, they thought a surprise party for Mark would be in order. The kids made signs, dressed up, had cookies and cakes donated by Happy Cakes (now Aime's Love), sang "A Jolly Good Fellow" and danced like the Macarena. Jennifer was in on the surprise and Mark had no idea!
Photos by Jennifer Schiedies
His single pair of shoes used for this trek were a pair of New Balance. A little worn soles at the end...
Happy trails, Longmont Street Walker!
For he's a jolly good fellow For he's a jolly good fellow For he's a jolly good fellow Which nobody can deny