FACETIME- Life's a beach: Local takes a walk on the wet side

There's a first time for every physical feat. Captain Matthew Webb was first to swim the English Channel in 1875. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953. Stein Kretsinger hopes to add his name to the list of first-time conquerers by walking from Miami to Manhattan along the beaches and islands east of the intracoastal waterway.

But while others have emerged from their travails weatherworn, hungry, and exhausted, Kretsinger, 39, says he expects to finish the 130-day trek feeling fine.

"This is not a story of deprivation," he says. Instead, it's a story of education.

"We're hoping to raise some environmental awareness," says Kretsinger, who plans to meet with elementary students along the way "to try to get kids to view the beach as a healthy, valuable ecosystem as opposed to a swimming pool." 

Along with his walking partner, Seattle-based professor Robert Weinman, Kretsinger hopes to average 15 miles per day on both foot and in kayaks, which the pair will pull behind them on wheels. Kretsinger's 7-year-old son, Erik, will join his father for portions of the trip.

"He has a four-day weekend every month," says Kretsinger, "and we'll extend it for a week of every month."

If Kretsinger seems sure he'll make it, it may be because he's no stranger to success. In 2000, he co-founded Advertising.com, an on-line marketing company, which was sold to AOL/Time Warner for a sunny $435 million in 2004.

While his beach walk won't earn him big bucks, his Midas touch seems intact as big name sponsors are already lining up, including Patagonia, REI, and Old Town. CNN will cover the February 11 launch in South Beach as Kretsinger and Weinman set out to cover the 1,600 miles– barefoot.

"CNN asked me about my training regimen," he laughs. "I told them I've been walking for 38 years. I may have stumbled a little in college, but just about every day of my life I've been training for a walk."

Kretsinger says he and Weinman will camp on the beach each night and will be followed by Weinman's wife, a Guatemalan chef, who'll prepare healthy meals in an RV. They'll be equipped with GPS equipment and satellite phones, and a videographer will capture some of the journey on film for beachwalkproject.com.

Kretsinger has no doubt what the greatest challenge will be.

"Something I haven't thought of," he laughs. "I have no plans; I'm just winging it."

Stein Kretsinger