Meet IML Walkers Yvonne & Jamie
During this COVID-19 pandemic year, Yvonne and Jamie Stewart have really missed the opportunity of travelling to IML events and catching up with their international walking friends.
Yvonne and Jamie are Australia’s IML delegates. Yvonne is also the newly elected President of AussieWalk IVV (and IML) and her husband Jamie also shares responsibility on the committee.
Yvonne and Jamie have now completed 51 IML events around the world and have achieved the Gold Medal with Laurels (30 walks), Pan Pacific Walker Award, European Walker Award and Global Walker Award.
They aim to walk all IML events (six more to go) and get their International Master walker award (only two of the founding walks left to complete). They ultimately would like to reach the Blue/Gold Medal (75 walks), which is a significant achievement for Australian walkers, with only five other Aussies to achieve this level to date.
How Their IML Walking Journey Began
Yvonne and Jamie discovered the joys of walking, of being out and away from the house; spending quality time talking together instead of being at home doing household chores. They completed two Oxfam 100 km events and a couple of charity long-distance events of 50km and 40km events and they were hooked.
‘We loved the atmosphere of the walking events and we wanted to do more. A Google search for walking events brought up the Canberra Two-Day Walk. It combined walking and a weekend away—what a great idea.’
After work one Friday night in 2009, they flew up from Melbourne to the ACT. The flight was delayed by several hours and so they landed in Canberra after midnight.
After walking 30km on both Saturday and Sunday, Yvonne and Jamie ‘were pretty tired by the end of the weekend’. But they had completed their first Canberra walk.
‘We had seen reference to the IML and IVV on the AussieWalk website, but we didn’t understand it at all. At the end of the first day of walking 30km in Canberra, we were resting in the hall. Diana was sitting at the IML/IVV table and she explained and answered all our questions and ultimately signed both of us up to the IML and IVV.
Jamie and I loved travelling, and we loved walking, so travelling to walk in overseas events certainly got our interest as a great way to experience the world.
Coincidentally, around the same time, I had reconnected with a high school friend who now lived in Virginia USA. When I asked her how far away she was from Arlington, she said ‘half an hour’. I informed my friend that we would be visiting her,’ Yvonne reminisced.
What Motivates Yvonne and Jamie To Keep Walking?
Walking and travelling are a big attraction for Yvonne and Jamie.
The IML also provides the opportunity to interact with the local people at each walk and enjoy the social aspect of catching up with the many international friends they have made.
‘There is a lot of time during a 20km walk to talk and catch up.’
‘We get to experience different countries and cultures where everyone at the IML event and the community is willing to help.’
There are also various IML incentive awards from completing walks in different countries. Having walked in Arlington USA, and Rotorua NZ (and of course Canberra), Yvonne and Jamie decided they wanted to get the IML Pan Pacific award. This required them to complete 8 different IML walks in the pan-pacific countries. As a result, they planned walks in Wonju Korea, Higashi-Matsuyama Japan and Taipei Taiwan, all on consecutive weekends in October/November.
Editorial note: There is now a 4th IML event in Jogjakarta Indonesia on the weekend after Taiwan.
Without the incentive of the IML, we had no inclination or desire to travel to any of these countries
‘We asked walkers at the Canberra event for any specific tips. The timing of our trip to Korea, Japan and Taiwan occurred two months after the loss of my mother to cancer. This trip proved to be very healing for us.
We recognized people in Wonju who had been at the Arlington walk we had previously completed and others who had been at the Canberra walk.
It was a moment of ‘We know you!’ Friendly faces in a very foreign land.
We reacquainted ourselves with them and made new friends too. The majority of international people were attending all three consecutive walks in each country.
It was wonderful to arrive in Japan at the IML walk to find out what each of us had done between the walk in Korea and the walk in Japan.
By the end of the trip, we had reached six Pan Pacific IML walks and had well and truly fallen in love with IML walking and couldn’t wait for our next trip to Yatsushiro Japan and Dalian China the following year.’
Above: Yvonne and Jamie working as Australian IML delegates in Sweden 2018.
Yvonne and Jamie’s top tip for prospective IML walkers
Talk to people who have been to the event. They can answer questions like:
Are the walk and accommodation close to public transport, or is a hire car needed? Where is a good place to stay and when should I book?
Some IML walks can organise accommodation for you (eg Yogyakarta Indonesia, Higashi-Matsuyama Japan).
See you at the Aussie Peace Walk
Yvonne and Jamie are always happy to answer your questions. You will meet them at the IML stand at the Rotary Aussie Peace Walk after completing their walks each day.
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