Couple walks thousands of miles primarily in one Tualatin park

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Phil and Sharon Roberts sit at a picnic table with Alfie in Jurgens Park while they take a break from walking. The couple has fun participating in Washington County Rocks by hiding rocks that Phil, an artist, decorates. Barbara Sherman/Tualatin Life

Many people walk for their health or as a way to enjoy being outside, but no matter what their purpose, they usually don’t keep track of their miles.

Meet Phil and Sharon Roberts, who do keep track of their miles and in the last 5 ½ years have walked an impressive 9,500 miles, one step at a time, in and around Jurgens Park.

They walk in the park twice a day, six days a week; in addition, the round-trip walk between their home and the entrance to Jurgens Park on Hazelbrook Road is 1 1/2 miles.

And the couple, who moved to Tualatin in 2005, have always walked with their dog, starting with Max, who died at 15 last year. Now they have Alfie, a cute half-poodle/half-Yorkie, who only weighs seven pounds, so if she gets tired, they can pick her up and keep walking.

“We always do four miles in the park every day,” Sharon said.

They started walking in May 2017, when Sharon retired as vice president of apparel for Kroger, where she ran the Fred Meyer apparel division. “After 10 years in the same office, I was ready to be outside and free,” Sharon said.

Phil, who is an artist specializing in fine art painting, went along with Sharon’s plan. Using an app on their phones to track their steps, they do at least 10,000 per day, which is the equivalent of four miles.

Meeting with Tualatin Life at Jurgens Park on Oct. 4, Phil said, “We hit 9,500 miles this week. I think I’m going to retire at 10,000 miles.”

The Roberts aren’t just getting exercise, they have developed a whole social network at Jurgens Park, where they have gotten to know the city maintenance staff plus all the regular dog walkers and their dogs, exchanging information about coyote sightings and other news.

“We do walk in other parks too,” Phil said. “We like to cross the bridge over the Tualatin River and get to Durham Park and Cook Park that way.”

The couple along with many others also participate in the loose-knit Washington County Rocks group, where people decorate and hide rocks for others to find. Sharon keeps some of the special ones she finds, and being an artist, Phil creates rocks they hide around the park. 

“You’re disappointed when you can’t find one,” Sharon said. “I went from executive to rock hunter. Walking and rock-hunting is a great way to spend your life. At the end of each week, we recap the animals we have seen and those we didn’t see. There’s something new every day.”