Let’s Take a 64-Mile Long Walk

Brian Laung Aoaeh, CFA
8 min readNov 24, 2023
Pictures taken along the way as I started my bid to walk 50 miles, ending up with 64 miles.

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere — on water and land.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to walk 50 miles in one go this year, with no more than a short break during the walk, if necessary. I originally thought about walking 50 miles last year, but failed to plan for it before the year ended. I was determined to do it this year. I had to do it in 2023.

Starting at noon on Wednesday, November 22, I walked 63.9 miles: 35.5 between noon and midnight; 6.7 miles until I started feeling dizzy and decided I needed a short break; then 21.7 miles during the day on Thanksgiving Day, November 23.

Those last 21.7 miles were hard.

Fortunately, my wife (Tasha) came with me to ensure I didn’t pass out somewhere with no recourse to help. As I’ve always known, walking with a companion makes long journeys more bearable and even enjoyable — even walks that begin after you’ve already walked 42.2 miles with barely a break and not much to eat or drink.

This isn’t the first time Tasha and I have taken a long walk of this nature, in fact on our best days we easily walk 10+ miles, weather and other obligations permitting; Walking 34.6 Miles to-and-from Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve — and Meditating About Work is about a debacle I got us into in July. I’ve walked 36 miles by myself in the past.

Walking along the Hempstead Lake Bridle Trail at Hempstead Lake State Park.

When I set the goal of walking 50 miles I had no idea how I’d do it. I didn’t train for this: I was at my desk, Tasha told me the weather was great for walking, and I set out immediately, after changing my clothes — I was feeling stuck on some work and I thought, “Why not?”.

Both of us feel better than we expected to after this. I feel like I could do this again. Soon. But . . . Perhaps, next year. As I write this in the morning on Friday, November 24, I feel I could very easily walk another 10 miles, at least. Perhaps even 15. But my toes still feel sore. Though we got home in time for Thanksgiving Day dinner, I did not fall asleep till well past 1:30 am ET, and I was up around 6:00 am — though I decided to be lazy and remained in bed till 7:00 am.

We are each capable of a lot more than we think.

As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.
- Rumi

A kind stranger offered to take a picture of us just before we began the final 7 miles of our 22 mile trek on Thursday, November 23.

This year has been hard on everyone. We each deal with uniquely different challenges, but each of us is dealing with some kind of challenge nonetheless.

As an immigrant, building a new early-stage Industrial Transformation & Supply Chain Technology venture capital firm from scratch with 43 startups now in our portfolio since July 2021, some days I feel as if I have embarked on a journey of a million miles.

In some ways they had come to know themselves better. In this lonely world of ice and emptiness, they had achieved at least a limited kind of contentment. They had been tested and found not wanting.
Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

On days — like Wednesday, when I feel stuck and in awe of the sheer scale and audacity of our long term vision to build REFASHIOND Ventures: The Industrial Transformation Fund into the world’s best early-stage Industrial Transformation & Supply Chain Technology venture firm, I am reminded that in every long journey it gets to a point where the traveler’s attention and psyche has to be focused singularly on the next step: Not the step that came before; Not the 100 steps that came before; Not the step that will come after the step we are now about to take, and; Not the 10, 100, or 1000 steps that will come after that. Just the next step, raising one foot and putting it it in front of the other. Again, and again, and again.

I set out to see if I could walk 50 miles, and this is the moment at which I reached that goal. We walked another 14 miles after this. Photo Credit: Tasha Kersey Aoaeh

Anxiety is fear about what may happen in the future, and it occurs only when the mind is imagining what the future may bring. But when your attention is on the here and now, the actions which need to be done in the present have their best chance of being successfully accomplished, and as a result the future will become the best possible present.
W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance

Personally, it also helps for me to reflect on how far I have come since my childhood in northern Ghana and northern Nigeria.

The picture below is of me as a teenager — in my first year of secondary school. I am the boy in the blue t-shirt.

It was in July 2019 that it finally dawned on me that my background is what gives me my edge — the environment I grew up in is what has given me my appreciation for supply chains, industrial transformation, and the roles those two phenomena play in our world — it is an edge that cannot be duplicated by anyone else because no one else is going to walk the path I have travelled to get where I am today. My personal journey is what gives meaning to everything I am experiencing as we build REFASHIOND Ventures.

Finding out how far I could push myself without much ado is what gave meaning to my decision to walk 50 miles, and ultimately walking 64 miles instead — in setting a seemingly unattainable goal of walking 50 miles in one shot, I discovered I am capable of significantly more than that.

We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.
Henry Ward Beecher

I am the boy in the blue t-shirt; This is my home, it is where I spent my teenage years, it is where the roots of what I am doing today were first established.

Everyone building something from scratch experiences moments of doubt, moments of extreme uncertainty. Whenever this happens to me, I recall that many times in my past, through sheer will, determination, tenacity, grit, obsessiveness, stubbornness, and courage, I have accomplished things other people around me have found incomprehensible given what they knew about me, the resources I had at my disposal, and their assumptions about what I am capable of.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
- Anaïs Nin

Building a venture fund from scratch is not easy for anyone. Building a venture fund from scratch as a complete outsider seems almost impossible. But one of my personal mantras is this quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi;

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

As with walking 50 miles, and then exceeding that by 28%, it helps to have: A committed companion who chooses to undertake the journey too; The support and encouragement of many people and organizations who may not be physically present for the journey but whose support and encouragement is very tangible and meaningful nonetheless; People and organizations along the way who provide various forms of support and assistance without realizing that they too are playing a small but important role in someone’s attempt to accomplish a big, hairy, audacious, and scary goal.

Fortitudine vincimus — By endurance we conquer.
Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

Stopping to enjoy the journey, and marvel at the beauty of the sunset.

Those last 21.7 miles were hard. They were made easier by knowing there was someone who believed in me at my side. The last 7 miles where even harder: My toes were hurting; My thighs were burning; My feet were making their objections plainly know, in no uncertain terms; My shoulders hurt quite a bit; I was developing a headache. But, I wanted to see how far I could go if I just focused on taking one more step. One more step. Just one more step.

End? No, the journey doesn’t end here.
Peter Jackson

Tasha created the collage of photographs at the beginning of this post, and the picture of us was taken by a kind stranger at Hempstead Lake Park — just as we set off on the last 7 miles or so of the journey back home.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
- Psalms 119:105 ESV

Happy Thanksgiving.

Update #1: November 27, 5:55 AM EST

Conversion:
- 50 miles is 84 kilometers.
- 64 miles is 107 kilometers.

Update #2: My friend, Adebayo Adeleke, upon seeing my post about this on Instagram decided he should see to what limits he could push himself and walked 50 miles on Saturday, November 25. That is absolutely incredible; He did it without much forethought, which makes it even more challenging. As he put it to me in a direct message on Instagram: He started to feel it around mile 33, but pushed through; It rained quite heavily while he was walking — a few different times, heavy and intense rain; The distance he walked is like walking from Midlothian to Plano in Texas, or from Ife to Ibadan in Nigeria; He took no pictures, no music, no podcast, no audiobook — it was just him and his thoughts; His wife and children can’t believe he did it; He started at 8: 00 AM and didn’t complete the walk till 11:45 PM; He asked himself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Indeed, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

At best, you prove to yourself that if you put your mind to something, you can make it happen — and better yet, you don’t need anything more than the resources you already have at your disposal to do so. At worst, you learn what constraints you may need to account for in the future if you decide to attempt this again.

If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do . . . the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.

― George S. Patton

We are each capable of a lot more than we think.

Adebayo Adeleke’s 50-Mile Walk
Adebayo Adeleke’s 50-Mile Walk

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Brian Laung Aoaeh, CFA

Early-stage VC — Supply Chain Tech at REFASHIOND Ventures. #TWSCF. NYUTandon. Research. | I’m not afraid to be different. Blog @ www.innovationfootprints.com.