Archive for Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fat Man’ completes U.S. trek

May 10, 2006

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— Steve Vaught didn't count each mile he walked or weigh himself every day along the way. And as he completed the final leg of his trek across America, he said making it to New York City from California on foot was only part of his story.

"I'm glad that I'm here, but for me it's never been about the destination," said Vaught, 40, as he crossed the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey to Manhattan more than a year after he began the trip to lose weight and find happiness. "It's been about the journey."

He began the 3,000-mile trek from his Oceanside, Calif., home to Manhattan on April 10, 2005, when he weighed 410 pounds and was suffering severe depression after accidentally killing two pedestrians while driving 15 years ago.

He ended the journey Tuesday - about 100 pounds lighter.

Along the way, he slept in tents and motels and went through 15 pairs of shoes, more than 30 pairs of socks and six backpacks. But he didn't measure mileage or the food he ate, and he said he aimed to change his behavior, not just his weight.


Steve Vaught, left, surrounded by the media, completes his approximately 3,000-mile walk across the United States by crossing the George Washington Bridge into New York City. Vaught completed his trek Tuesday, more than a year after he began in California.

Steve Vaught, left, surrounded by the media, completes his approximately 3,000-mile walk across the United States by crossing the George Washington Bridge into New York City. Vaught completed his trek Tuesday, more than a year after he began in California.

"This is not about obsessing about numbers, or times, or dates, or miles," he said. "It's just about going on a walk and sort of having time to get things straight."

Vaught's path had a few turns. He spent a week at a Texas hotel, where he was able to wean himself off antidepressants, and he returned to California for Christmas and to work out with a personal trainer.

Vaught chronicled his progress on a Web site, TheFatManWalking.com, which lists the names of dozens of supporters in 26 states. He has a book deal, and his trip attracted the attention of documentary filmmakers and national TV shows.

Vaught posed for photos on the bridge with the New York skyline in the background. Once he reached the other side - his final destination - he spoke to reporters for a few minutes before being picked up by a black sedan that was to take him to a hotel.

His first plan, he said, was to "put on some new socks."

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