A Limerick pensioner who says he has walked more than twice the circumference of the Earth is bidding for world record recognition.
Vinod Bajaj, who walks on average 37km a day, has applied to Guinness World Records for the title of greatest cumulative distance walked solo.
The 73-year-old has recorded more than 100 million steps on his fitness tracker since August 2016, covering a distance of nearly 83,000km.
The circumference of the Earth is around 40,000km.
The married father of one is originally from India but has lived in Ireland for almost 50 years, 39 of those in Limerick.
Mr Bajaj says on some days he sets off from his home in Castletroy and walks for eight hours, and has covered a marathon distance 218 times, and more than 50km on 24 occasions. His longest daily shift was 55km.
The retired business consultant, who worked for several multinational companies, has worn through 21 pairs of running shoes in the last seven years.
He jokes he is the “Forrest Gump of Limerick”, although he has covered many more kilometres than Tom Hanks’ character did in his five runs across the US in the 1994 movie.
“I’ve done about 2,000 kilometres, more than twice around the Earth, so maybe I am the Forrest Gump of 2023 or the Forrest Gump of Limerick,” he said.
Keeping healthy is Mr Bajaj’s main motivation.
When he first committed to his intensive walking schedule in 2016, he lost 20kg in the first nine months and has since maintained that weight.
He weighs himself every morning and aims to burn 1,600 calories each day.
His walking app estimates he has burned off more than three million calories in seven years.
“I don’t compromise on eating,” he said.
“Basically, I eat what I want to eat. The way I look at it, having worked for 40 years, the last thing you want is you work so hard in your life and now in your retirement you can’t eat what you want. So it’s calorie input and output that drives me.
“Sometimes I will do more than 1,600 calories a day because the previous night I had maybe two ice creams.
“So I enjoy my ice cream, but I want to make sure that I get that ice cream out of my system the next day.”
Mr Bajaj says he enjoys listening to the news on his radio during his solo walks. He also credits the hours of activity for helping him come up with ideas.
Two years ago, during the Covid lockdown, he got the inspiration to write an advice book about pensions and now he plans another one advising people on investing their money.
He donated profits from his self-published book Pension Without Tension in 2021 to Irish suicide prevention charity Pieta House.
Mr Bajaj expects to hear back from the world record adjudicators in the new year after they assess his application.
“If they accept it, great, if they don’t accept it, I don’t mind – I did not walk for the Guinness World Record, I walk for myself,” he said.
“My next target is 100,000 kilometres and I’ll have that by April 2025.”