By Rebecca Gaunt
When Tracey Viars completed her daily power walk Wednesday and opened the door of Honeysuckle Biscuits & Bakery in downtown Kennesaw, more than a dozen friends and coworkers were waiting to celebrate her achievement.
It wasn’t just any walk. For more than a decade, Viars has power walked every single day, accumulating thousands of miles and wearing out shoes every couple of months. This particular walk marked 4,000 consecutive days. That’s almost 11 years. At 9 a.m., Viars had already clocked more than 10,000 steps for the day.
“My body just feels better when I get up and do it,” she said, adding that it helps her stay focused at work.
In the beginning, Viars had a stricter routine and meticulously tracked her distance and steps. But while she has relaxed in recent years on some of the details, she has not missed one day in spite of illness, weather, or her work schedule.
She prefers to walk outside, but extreme weather gets in the way from time to time. Power walking the many halls of her multi-level apartment building can be a bit boring, but when it rains, or extreme cold rolls in, it’s a great substitute for an indoor track. It’s also a safer option on days that are too early and dark.
Funnily enough, Kennesaw has an actual indoor walking track at the new recreation center that opened in January. And Viars, a member of the Kennesaw City Council since 2018, played a role in making that happen. But it’s hard to argue with an option right outside the front door that doesn’t require getting in the car first.
She still strives for 10,000 steps at a minimum, but sometimes life gets in the way.
“I won’t do less than 6,000,” she said.
And busy days are plentiful. Besides serving on the council, Viars has a career in commercial real estate. And she works part-time at Lazy Guy Distillery. Naturally, she walks to her job. All of them.
Viars said she’s been called the “selfie queen,” but it’s about accountability.
“Once you tell people what you’re doing, you have to do it or you have egg on your face,” she said. “It’s like brushing my teeth now.”
“It’s a way to journal it. And then if somebody caught on and they wanted to do it with me, that would be great…I walk alone a lot. I walk in a group a lot of times. I listen to podcasts. I listen to music. I work. Take phone calls. Depends on what time of day it is. My sister and I talk a lot.”
The selfies posted on Facebook also often serve as a chance to draw attention to Kennesaw matters, whether it’s a shout-out to a local business or participating in a city-sponsored 5k doubling as her daily cardio.
On Saturday, she walked to the Kennesaw City Cemetery for the Wreaths Across America ceremony, sharing publicly about the event to honor veterans.
Viars also doesn’t hesitate to call out examples of her pet peeve–unsafe drivers putting other drivers and pedestrians at risk–which is an ongoing battle in a city trying to increase walkability, while exploding with growth, development, and students from Kennesaw State University.
The city has made efforts to improve pedestrian safety with flashing lights, signs, and brick crosswalks, but it’s still a work in progress.
“Way too much tailgating, speeding, passing in areas not safe for passing, rage directed at those who choose to follow the rules by behaving as expected at stop signs and yield signs, aggressive driving. The driving culture needs to change,” Viars posted in 2021.