A New Jersey man is returning to his home state on May 21 after completing a seven-year walk around the world with his dog and loyal companion, Savannah, who has been at his side since about five months into the journey.
In April 2015, Tom Turcich left Haddon Township on foot the day before his 26th birthday for a new adventure and chapter in his life that he has since called “The World Walk.”
Now, more than seven years later, the 33-year-old is finally returning home after walking about 28,000 miles across six continents and dozens of countries.
“The last month of The Walk is here and I hope you’ll meet me and Savannah at the end of it!” Turcich wrote on Instagram, which he has used to document his trek.
The final stretch of Turcich’s trip will be crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge on May 21 and then walking home to Haddon Township, where he and Savannah have a big outdoor homecoming celebration waiting with drinks and free food.
“I think it will be very surreal,” Turcich told ABC6 in reference to crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge. “That’s what I walked over on my first day of walking. And to come back seven years later, I’m a very changed person. I can’t even imagine who I was back then. It’s so far away from who I am now.”
Turcich will be the 10th person to have completed the journey, while Savannah will become the first dog to do it. The first person independently verified to have walked around the Earth is Dave Kunst, a Minnesota native whose trek began in June 1970 and ended in October 1974. The walk was officially stated to be 14,450 miles.
About five months into his journey, Turcich decided to adopt Savannah while visiting a shelter in Austin, Texas. He always imagined making the journey alone, but after an unsettling encounter with a “creepy guy” in Georgia, he figured a dog as a companion would be handy if he should run into potential danger again.
“She’s a good work dog, a little bit serious, but playful when it’s time to be playful,” Turcich told The Trek. “She is such a beast! I don’t know how she feels day-to-day, but on days when I feel like [explicit], she’s going along, tail up. Maybe she’s feeling terrible too, but she’ll do 24 miles in snow, heat, mountains, and every sort of terrain, and doesn’t complain.”
“I’m madly in love with her. It’s moved well beyond affection and at this point, it’s a very profound respect for her. It’s almost like she’s my daughter,” he added.
Turcich plans to write a memoir about his journey around the Earth, which was inspired by his friend, AnneMarie, who died at age 16 when she was killed in a jet ski accident, and Karl Bushby, a former British paratrooper who set out with a similar goal in 1998 to become the first person to complete an unbroken round-the-world walk.