Ruth Bot and her husband Rick both walk for exercise.

Walking in a (not so) wonderland

Not rain, nor snow or -35 below wind chill has kept Ruth Bot from her daily walk. No, she isn't a mail carrier. The longtime school teacher started walking every day to better her health.
"I want to be able to play with my grandchildren as I get older," she said. "I've never been one to exercise much, and I haven't had real great balance lately. So my daughters suggested I start walking."
Ruth, 62, never got a chance to meet her father as he died of a heart attack when he was only 29 years old.
"My mother was pregnant with me at the time my dad died," she said.
That may have also led to her thinking she needs to exercise more. She began walking on Dec. 28, unsure how many days she would continue her quest.
"I started walking one day, then two, then three and I just decided to myself to keep going as many days as I am able to. If I feel like accomplishing something, I usually do it. I knew I needed to get out and get some fresh air and to also get some exercise."
Ruth usually walks around a mile a day, but said it takes her 30-40 minutes "because I walk pretty slow."
She walked during a blizzard that included 50 miles per hour winds, and she walked during the -35 below wind chill we experienced during the recent cold snap.
"I haven't missed a day. When I first started walking I didn't have snow pants and I would get cold," she said. "So I wear them now. During the blizzard I walked near the house and along the grove to block the wind a little bit."
This past weekend didn't deter her from her usual mile walk down County Road 24. In fact, her husband Rick had been in town and was returning home to their farm eight miles northwest of Minneota when he met Ruth on the road.
"He stopped and asked me if I was okay," she said.
To brace for the elements on Sunday (Feb. 14), Ruth was wearing her snow pants, winter coat, two stocking caps, mittens with hand warmers inside, a mask, scarf and her hood up so only a small opening was available for her to see.
Peering through that slit above her tightly-wrapped scarf, Ruth turned toward Rick and said, "I can make it."
And she did. Despite the stiff breeze that produced a -35 below wind chill in her face as she traveled in a westerly direction, she trudged along with a walking stick in each hand for stability. As of Wednesday, Ruth has walked 52 consecutive days. "She should be extremely proud of herself," said Ruth and Rick's daughter, Carolyn. "In the beginning, she committed herself to this goal and has gone beyond her limits to achieve it. She did not pick the easiest time of year to start this, but she has stuck to it. She is setting a great example for all of us."
Rick also walks, but because he likes to walk fast, he travels alone.
"His legs are so darn long and he walks so fast, I'd never be able to keep up," Ruth laughed. "And besides, he will walk four or five miles."
Ruth has walked a couple of times with her granddaughter and once or twice with a friend, but most of the time she walks alone or with her faithful dog, Ruby.
"Ruby usually walks ahead of me and one blustery day I was walking real slow, she stopped and looked back at me as if to say, ‘Are you coming?’ I think she looks out for me."
Ruth has taught at the public school for 41 years, the last five on a part-time basis. She has been the librarian at the school for the past two years.
During her daily walks, Ruth revealed that she usually meditates and prays. And it gives her time to think of something she always told her daughters, Carolyn, Corinne, Carmen and Colleen ...
"I'm woman, I'm strong and I'm independent," she said.

Ruth Bot was fully prepared for -35 below wind chill during one of her recent walks. The longtime Minneota teacher has challenged herself to walk every day, no matter what the weather is like. Contributed photo

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