Brad Cross marks 75th birthday with a 23.5 mile, 12-hour walk
Brad Cross set out before dawn on Friday to mark his 75th birthday with a walk from his native town Taft to Bakersfield.
He almost quit halfway through, but he recovered and, 23.5, miles, 57,759 steps and more than 12 hours after he started, ended up inside the Bakersfield city limits on Buena Vista Road.
"It was a struggle. It was a fight," he said. "It was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be," said Cross.
A "Fort Baby" and 1963 Taft Union High School graduate (He was class president his senior year), just got the idea of making the walk for his birthday.
Cross, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, has donated to the Wounded Heroes Project, and, when word got around on social media about his walk, people started supporting it.
That's some extra motivation. He's active in a Bakersfield VFW Post in addition to supporting Wounded Warriors.
He walks several miles a day, so he thought he was in shape to make it.
But he walks on flat streets and sidewalks. The trip to Bakersfield along Highway 119 was on the shoulders with uneven ground and rocky.
Cross started his walk in the predawn darkness from the front steps of the TUHS administration building, went down, Wildcat Way to Cougar Court, to Sixth Street then north out to Highway 119. He made to it Golf Course Road by midmorning.
He had decided to take Golf Course Road to avoid the long uphill and downhill sections of the highway as it goes over Elk Hills.
But even the gentler up-and-down path around Golf Course Road took a toll.
By the time he made it to the eastern junction of Golf Course and Highway 119 at midday, he was beaten.
His legs and shoulder aches and he stops, deciding that the walk was over.
He said the uneven terrain and hills had taken a toll.
"I was dead. I was toast," he said.
He called his brother, who came and picked him up to go back to Taft to get his car and drive home.
As he was driving back, he started to recover and rethink his decisions.
Like a marathon runner who "hit the wall" but gets his second wind, Cross bounced back.
"I felt a lot better," he said
So he parked his car and picked up where he had stopped, 13 miles into the walk.
He continued east on Highway 119, stopping to rest and drink water at the intersection with Highway 43, then marched over the Interstate 5 overcrossing and down the highway to Buena Vista road.
Now he was tired.
He turned north and was met by his son, who pointed out that he had made it into the Bakersfield city limits.
It was about 6:10 p.m.
Cross celebrated with ice cream from Walmart with some Girl Scout Cookies.
Cross said he's not done walking. Now he's considering walking a marathon for his next birthday.