LINCOLN PARK — It's west to east on North this weekend for the monthly Walking Across Chicago group.
Maybe they can walk on the south side of the street to even things out.
Walking Across Chicago has selected North Avenue as its course this month, starting out at the Dunkin Donuts at 7117 W. North Ave. in Oak Park at 10 a.m. Sunday. The nine-mile walk will end about three hours later, perhaps going straight all the way to Lake Shore Drive, perhaps with a final jog up LaSalle Street and across to North Avenue Beach.
Hear Ted describe a typical Walking Across Chicago gathering.
The latter would suit this month's theme, as walk organizer Beth Bergman was born in 1964, and the walk will follow Illinois 64, which ends at the distinctive cruise-ship beach house on the Lake Michigan shore.
It's a rare bit of uncertainty in scheduling, Walking Across Chicago founder Rob Reid said Wednesday, as "we tend to be pretty technical, and we judge people for not taking every last step." Otherwise, however, the walk is always conducted with a spirit of "spontaneity and discovery."
Previous theme walks have seen the group follow Archer Avenue on the Jan. 30 birthday of its namesake, Chicago settler William Beatty Archer, and Pulaski Road on Pulaski Day, commemorating the birthday of Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski.
The group has grown to about 600 members since Reid founded it almost as a lark three years ago. It usually attracts about 10 participants, although 44 have already signed up this month at its meetup.com site.
That's perhaps because it's a relatively short jaunt across the city's midsection. Other walks have included a 24-mile, 10-hour-plus marathon down Western Avenue and 20 miles along Halsted Street. On the other hand, Reid added, one of the shortest walks, six miles along Cermak Road, was one of the most enjoyable for the diversity of the neighborhoods it passed through.
Walking Across Chicago has completed a walk every month since November 2013 without interruption.
"Seeing all corners of the city," Reid said, "it just confronts you with what the city is like. It gives you a perspective that is beyond what you'd otherwise read or hear."
Although some newcomers to the group have said they've missed walks like Lincoln Avenue and have asked to have them scheduled again, Reid has thus far resisted retracing any one course.
"I want to challenge the group to continue to do more roads that people are uncomfortable about," Reid said, in that it renders the full unexpected flavor of the city and all its neighborhoods.
The group advises taking the CTA to the starting point Sunday: either the No. 72 North Avenue bus, or the Blue or Green Line to Harlem Avenue and then the No. 90 Harlem bus either south or north.
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