By Carly Wheeler | Contributor
Senior Sara Bergen sat reflectively, pondering how to describe the pain of her lowest point on that unusually hot October day: the day she walked from Taylor to Chipotle.
"My feet are ripping open and bleeding onto my white tennis shoes," Bergen said. "My shoulders are being weighed down by [my] backpack. I'm thirsty. My feet are aching like I'm walking on nails. My neck is killing me. The sun is scorching on us, but there's nothing in front of us, it's just miles and miles of country road."
Towards the beginning of this semester, Bergen and her roommate, senior Rachel Breuer, sat on their couch and simply wondered: what exciting thing could they do that would create a good memory? Remembering back to their freshman year when two Taylor students walked to the Ohio border, they felt inspired by the challenge of walking a great distance. They soon knew that was exactly what they wanted to do, and Chipotle was their worthy destination.
They conducted much preliminary research on things they needed to know before making the 35-mile trek to Kokomo. They found out how much water they should be drinking, how much food to bring, the best shoes to wear, other medical supplies they would need, what the weather was going to be like that day, and they even found a couple other friends to join them on their journey.
In the days leading up to the walk, they finished last-minute preparations. They mapped out their route and drove it, hiding two large water jugs along the way. They bought Clif bars and medical supplies, and they even got Chipotle to sponsor free meals for them when they reached their destination.
They set out at 5:45 a.m. on Oct. 6 with high spirits. The first two hours were the easiest, but when the sun rose and grew warmer, their feet felt heavier.
"After mile 11, that's when it really started hurting," Bergen said. "Some people's feet went numb. Others weren't so lucky."
The members of the group all began to see the extremity of their personal ailments, and problems with knees, hip flexors and plantar fasciitis plagued each step on the flat, Indiana asphalt. Blisters covered Bergen's feet, and they still had many miles to go.
They took various breaks to rest, eat and change bandages, but the pain medication stopped helping, so they resorted to playing loud music and forcing conversation to pull their attention away from the pain.
After the group stopped for a long rest around mile 25, they were surprised by the sudden change in the air.
"Suddenly, around mile 30, it started downpouring," Bergen said. "And we were so happy because it was the first time that we had a distraction from the pain. I was like, 'thank you, Jesus!'"
The last few miles dragged by until they finally turned onto the busy road where Chipotle sat. Eyes on their goal once again, they ran towards the restaurant.
Bergen and two of her friends pushed through their perceived limits farther than they ever could have imagined, and in the end, they made it. No energy left to stand and pain searing through every muscle, they entered Chipotle and received their free burritos.
Q: Where do you see the value in sharing stories?
Sharing this story specifically, well for one, it can make people laugh, but also it can encourage them and show them that we're just normal people. We did something pretty wild - and we're proud of it and excited that we did it - but you can do anything you set your mind to. And I hope (this story) inspires someone to do something that they don't think they can do or they want to do but it might seem crazy, because it's really fun, and those memories last forever.