By Ted Glanzer
Many people were surprised to learn that wrestling was removed as an Olympic sport.
Few, however, did anything about it other than take to the Internet and voice their displeasure over social media networks.
Even fewer, if any, have taken the steps — literally and figuratively — that Granby resident Jeff Fleming has committed to.
Indeed, Fleming is going to walk the Appalachian Trail — from Maine to Georgia, all 2,180 miles of it — in protest of the removal of Olympic wrestling in an effort to have it reinstated.
Fleming said in a telephone interview last week that he ran the 2013 Boston Marathon carrying two flags that said “Save Olympic Wrestling.”
While that certainly raised the profile of his cause, the terrorist bombings overshadowed his efforts.
So Fleming, a personal trainer with Drive Train Athletics, came up with the ambitious idea to walk the Appalachian Trail.
His motivations, however, run even deeper than just wrestling.
Fleming, 37, said that his twin brother died in 2012 of a heart attack.
“It was not a lifestyle thing, it was just an unspeakable act of fate,” Fleming said.
But Fleming, a former wrestler and a father of four boys who all wrestle for FishEye Wrestling in Granby, changed how he looked at things after the death of his twin brother.
“I promised to do things now instead of later,” he said. “This gives me an extended opportunity to support wrestling.”
He hopes to complete the effort in 65 days, which means he has to hike some 35 miles per day. That’s just under 9 miles more than a full marathon (26.2 miles) every day for 65 days.
“By hiking standards, it’s ambitious to say the least,” he said.
Fleming will carry ultralight camping equipment and stay in shelters set up along the trails. He will also stay in some homes of people who support his cause.
He’ll also have an iPhone for pictures and will be blogging about his experience.