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Workout is no walk in the park.

Byline: THE OUTSIDER By John Rezell The Register-Guard

Looks can be deceiving.

It's a simple truth we all know, yet, somehow, seldom think about until we hit one of those moments where, really, it's the only explanation we can offer to help someone create an image in their mind.

You know, an image being worth a thousand words and all.

So picture in your mind for a moment Tyler Burgess, she of a thin, somewhat lanky frame with soft red - certainly not flaming red - hair bouncing gently to her shoulders, seemingly held back by simple wire-rim glasses as she walks along the South Bank River Trail.

Milquetoast? Hardly.

Burgess drifts back from her spot leading her gang of 12 walkers after we've crossed the walking bridge to the north bank, looking everyone over like a drill sergeant, offering words of advice.

"Pop those elbows back," she says, firmly. "Pop! Pop! Pop!"

Lest I think for a moment that she isn't serious about her trade, she slips behind me and begins slapping my elbows, smacking them forward for the proper POP!

"Pop! Pop!! Pop!!!" she barks in my ear.

Just as she promised, my walking pace picks up with the increased pop.

Satisfied with her work, she returns to the front, and leads us down the sidewalk of Martin Luther King Boulevard toward Autzen Stadium.

As she slips back to check on her troops, I strike up a conversation with Saralyn Brooks and Besty Madsen, two regulars to this walking class that meets twice a week.

Lest you think they aren't serious about this, understand one thing: They are training for the Eugene Marathon on June 11. Walking 26 miles is serious business.

They explain there are two classes during the week, sometimes an extra-long session on Saturdays. But if you don't walk six days a week, you'll pay for it.

Madsen drifted back from her spot next to Burgess at the front of the line, and suddenly I feel like I've found my groove. We've been walking for about 30 minutes now, and it isn't as difficult as it was.

Then Brooks points out that the pace has dropped without Madsen or Burgess at the front. Burgess is back whipping the troops again. A few minutes later, Brooks is up front, and we're cranking again.

Burgess moves back yet again to address the troops to the rear as we rumble back into Alton Baker Park. There's a fork in the road. Madsen is thinking of heading left. Brooks figures right. No one dares make a decision without Burgess.

"Right!" she yells from the back row.

With that the group responds, somewhat, I point out, like a herd of cows.

Someone says we look more like a gaggle of geese. And as we pound our hooves toward the pond, waddling to beat the band, she's right.

We cruise on past, and continue up the trail. We turn around.

"Ten minutes!" Burgess booms. "You look great!"

That last few minutes pass in a hurry. Madsen says she got a strange look from a kid at the grocery store, who finally said, "Hey, I know you! You're the woman with the small dog who walks funny."

Her story elicits a couple of chuckles. But they are short-lived.

Walking all-out for an hour is hardly funny business, no matter what it may look like.

Remember, looks can be deceiving.

"Pop! Pop!! Pop!!!"

John Rezell, aka Raz, is a former editor of VeloNews and bike.com. He wants to experience the outdoors with you. Invite him along at Eugenemeraz@att.net.

ON THE WEB

Raz's blog can be found at www.registerguard.com/outsider/
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:May 16, 2006
Words:609
Previous Article:OUTDOORS BRIEFLY.
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