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These women are made for walking

Lake Oswego ladies celebrate 25 years of morning strolls and close friendship

SUBMITTED PHOTO - These walkers have good reason to smile after celebrating 25 years of walking. From left (front): Ginann Mott, Jan Jones and Deborah Sanberg; (back) Corinne Spiegel, Pat Billups, Jane Burns and Betsy Fontenot.

The Walking Women of Lake Oswego have seen a lot on their morning journeys over the past 25 years.

Such as Ned the Cat, who usually joins them midway through their walk. Later, they have to shoo him home. Like the man who shaves while naked in front of a window. They avert their eyes. Like the coyotes, who are amazed to see human beings up and about as early as they are. And the skunks, who cause them to take a wide, wide turn on their route, and much more.

Most of their encounters are enjoyable, but the real reason that Corinne Spiegel, Jane Burns and Ginann Mott have kept on walking for the past 25 years is that they are such good friends. Walking has helped them make the journey of life together, and their lives are much richer for it. Walking is so good for their bodies, minds and spirits.

“I am proud to have walked with these ladies for 25 years,” Mott says. “It is a very remarkable feeling. The only persons we see more consistently are our husbands.”

“We’ve walked through illnesses, surgeries, accidents,” Spiegel says. “The others are so supportive. We have true friendships.”

“If you want a good conversation, take a walk,” Burns says. “We talk about politics, history, art, social issues, recipes, schools, colleges, weddings, grandchildren, Social Security and Medicare.”

Other walkers come and go, but Spiegel, Burns and Mott were present at the creation of the informal club 25 years ago. It started when they were sitting around talking after a PTA meeting at Bryant Elementary School.

“We were talking about how hard it was to find time to exercise,” Spiegel says. “Deborah our PTA president said, ‘Why don’t we just get up early and walk?’”

Why not? Why not, indeed. And that is exactly what they did the next morning. They now walk every morning between 6 and 7 a.m., nearly three miles a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

That anniversary might have passed them by, but last December, it occurred to the women that they were approaching 25 years as a walking organization. Besides the original threesome, there are Jan Jones, Patty Hansen, Pat Billups, Deborah Sanberg and Betsy Fontenot, and they decided they had good reason to celebrate and reminisce about a quarter century of good times.

“My husband tried to figure the amount of miles we had walked, and he estimated we had walked the circumference of the Earth,” Burns says.

Larry Spiegel, Corinne’s husband, told them, “Just think of the interesting places you could have seen.”

But it seems they got a lot more benefit from just walking around their neighborhood. They are walking advertisements of the benefits of walking.

“When I don’t walk, it doesn’t seem to be as nice a day,” Burns says. “I’ve had a lot of better days over the past 25 years.”

“The greatest benefit of walking is that it has been good for my mental and physical health,” Mott says. “I am able to plan my day with a clear head and an energized body.”

“It has kept me feeling so good,” Spiegel says.

Naturally, the walkers occasionally miss a day. But they had better have a good reason.

“When that happens, we ask, ‘Where ARE you?’” Burns says. “Doing this helps with our self-discipline.”

The walkers are sort of like postal carriers, because they walk in rain, sleet or snow. In fact, they rather like frozen precipitation.

“Walking in the snow is especially fun,” Spiegel says. “The whole city is quieter. It seems to be the magic hour.”

After 25 years, these women walkers have nothing to prove, even to themselves, and they could easily indulge themselves by calling it quits. Sleeping in is such an inviting proposition.

But this could not be further from their plans. They wax vociferously about their intentions to keep right on walking.

“I can envision us still walking when we aren’t as able to walk as we are now,” Spiegel says. “If one of us ever moved away, we may have to move all together.”

As for Mott, she says, “I plan to walk as long as I can still answer the question, ‘Yes, I am walking tomorrow!’”

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..