To prepare for a long walk do some stretches and limber up with a little pre-walk walk. Get a walking buddy for conversation and then choose some music in case you need some quiet time. Jazz is a good option, as are John Philip Sousa’s marches. That is how Dr. Louis W. Sullivan prepares for a long walk. And the man knows a thing or two about walking. He’s been taking long walks for 46 years and is the inspiration and perspiration behind the Sullivan Run/Walk on Martha’s Vineyard, now in its 28th year.

Mr. Sullivan began walking in 1970 with his wife Ginger to stay fit. It turned out to be a good time to talk too. They would chat about family issues like their children and the mortgage.

“The walking has objective for its own like health benefits and fitness, but during the walking is when you’re talking, exchanging ideas and talking about issues,” Mr. Sullivan said.

When he moved to Washington D.C. to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, Mr. Sullivan took his walks with him. He started inviting members of his department to join, partially to encourage healthy practices and also to get to know the employees. He’d invite department members on walks in every city he visited. They would talk about issues and ideas. A friend suggesting organizing a similar walk on Martha’s Vineyard and the first informal Sullivan walk began. On Vineyard walks, he talks about the benefits of exercise and encourages others to start walks in their own communities.

“Walking or running is a form of exercise that is not only good for health but very enjoyable,” Mr. Sullivan said. It helps that the Sullivan Walk/Run winds through East Chop, offering participants a sweeping view of the sound.

Three years after the first walk, with the help of a megaphone, timer and cause (the hospital), the walk became official.

Mr. Sullivan is a walker, but the event is for runners too. It is a U.S. Track and Field Association Certified 5K course.

Though the event has always been multi-generational, this year’s smallest participants will be younger than ever. Infants will compete in the diaper derby at 8:30 a.m., crawling their way to victory.

“These infants now will be young people running and in 10 years will still be running,” he said.

Mr. Sullivan has walked in the event every single year, but this year due to a back problem he will be riding in a golf cart, still available to chat with walkers and cheer on runners.

Though Mr. Sullivan hopes to reduce trips to the doctor through healthy activities, having a first rate hospital in the community is paramount, which is why the funds raised will support the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

“This really helps to ensure we have a hospital there should we need it,” he said.

The 28th Annual Martha’s Vineyard Hospital 5K Sullivan Run/Walk takes place on Saturday, August 27. It begins in Washington Park in Oak Bluffs, near Our Market. The Diaper Derby begins at 8:30 a.m., the kids fun run begins at 8:45 a.m., walkers start at 9 a.m. and runners start at 9:30 a.m. To register and for more information, visit