As we near July 4th and the world famous Peachtree Road Race that takes place here in Atlanta, those of us familiar with it know that it’s a grand patriotic event – not just another race. Bunny Lenhard will be one of the 60,000 participants in the Peachtree, celebrating her 32nd time participating in this event that is a tradition for so many others. Not only is it a tradition, but it’s also how Bunny got started on her path to better health as her first fitness goal!
Making Atlanta races part of her fitness repertoire keeps her active lifestyle goals on track. From the Atlanta BeltLine to the Freedom Path, you might see Bunny out walking and training for her next race: “They are so scenic with wildflowers along the Beltline and the interesting artwork on both the Beltline and the parkway. There are also many places where you can stop for snacks or pit stops if you are doing a long distance. I try and spread out my races throughout the year and I always have a goal which is to try and better my time from the previous race. Although I don’t always achieve my goal, I need to have a focus other than just finishing.”
One of the best things about being a runner or walker in Atlanta are the numerous opportunities to participate in a race. There are events practically every weekend around town and plenty of run clubs to participate in as well: “Over the years of running and walking. I have often been joined by other people, either groups or individuals. It is always nice to have company on walks particularly if you are training for a long distance. It seems like the time always goes faster when you are chatting with someone. On the other hand, I also enjoy walking alone because I can resolve problems more easily due to the lack of distractions. I have really enjoyed cMEcompete since I love walking and then drinking wine with a fun group of women. It has added yet another wonderful facet to workouts. I know the future will be filled with many more races, walks and “wine-ing” with the Winots of the WINOT Run Club.”
We agree – while the nice thing about running and walking is that you can either participate alone or with others, the sense of community engagement is what keeps us – and Bunny – moving and enjoying an active lifestyle for years to come!
If you are physically able, you do it all the time without even thinking about it. It’s how we get around everyday and our first steps were probably documented by our parents as one of the most joyous occasions as babies. Walking is the most basic form of exercise there is and often the gateway to running. Unfortunately, with so many people in office jobs that require them to be sedentary and the amount of time people spend in their cars getting to and from work or just around for daily errands, this behavior often breeds further fatigue and inactivity by shutting down the body’s basic systems.
When it comes down to it, our health is pretty much what we have to carry us through life. If we aren’t treating our bodies well and neglecting basic functional movement and proper nutrition, we may not have the best quality of life as we get older. Active Community member Bunny Lenhard made this discovery early enough that has made her a fitness superstar! She happily obliged when we wanted to share her story in her words on how running and walking have impacted her life:
“In January 1983, I made a New Year’s resolution that I was going to become more fit and active. It seemed like running was the easiest thing to do as far as scheduling. I bought a pair of running shoes and hit the streets. Every day I ran a little farther. When I reached a mile it seemed like the distances were limitless and one challenge led to yet another. Fast forward to 2014 and I’m still out there but have switched to power walking which is easier on my knees and hips.
One of the best things about running – and now walking – is that you need no equipment other than good shoes and socks. Your time frame is your own, you go when you want, anywhere you want and at your own pace. There have been so many benefits from walking, the obvious ones such as weight control and better cardiovascular health, but there are so many more. To me the mental and spiritual benefit of being at one with nature is paramount as is the feeling of well being that comes from exercise. Although I love being outside, I do belong to a gym where I do weight work, circuit training, use a treadmill and rowing machines. I also attend a weekly yoga class. I think it’s important to participate in a variety of activities for strength and flexibility.
When I began running, I participated in many races. However, 30 years ago the races were not walker-friendly. It’s a very different story today since almost all races welcome walkers. So although I am no longer running, I continue to race.”
Stay tuned as we find out Bunny’s current plans for racing and how community engagement with fitness has enhanced her W-A-L-K through life!
In our previous blog we started a framework with regards to gamification, which you can view by clicking on the following link: Gamifying your community to better health. We defined what gamification means and we provided some high-level examples on what one could do to engage their community. In this blog we are going to focus a little more on how to implement such techniques and how to determine success rates.
Before I talk about a specific way to engage your community, I like to always reference stats as I am big on numbers because of the story they tell. Did you know over 2/3rds of employers consider gamification an effective strategy for encouraging their employees to improve their health? This stat comes from a leading research company M2 Research and more than 30% of employers intend to adopt a minimum of one health-focused gamified strategy in the next year, according to BI Worldwide. What these stats tell us is the concept is becoming more mainstream with employers as they look for ways to engage their employees with fitness.
So what does this mean to someone that manages a Parks and Recreation Department? It means these companies are beginning to look for events and places that they can leverage to engage their employees. So what can be done to engage with such companies or individuals? One thought is geocaching, which is a great technology that takes scavenger hunting to the next level, it’s a great way to get companies, families and individuals out in one’s community exploring new parks or trails and finding clues along the way while sharing their findings with friends. What you could do is setup a team challenge where members of a team visit numerous destinations along a pre-defined route that you choose in search of clues. Once they find that clue they would need to answer a question in order to move to the next level or location, this is where technology can come into play. Perhaps that question can be related to the history of a trail or adjacent park. What a great way to learn about one’s community. The end goal could be time based, so the first team that finds all clues and answers them wins a prize. It’s easy to find local businesses in your community that will donate prizes or gift cards for such endeavors, its good exposure for them.
So how do you measure success? One simple way is the number of participants, however one can expand upon that to truly see how engaged participants are with the challenge, is everybody trying to finish the challenge? Are the clues compelling? Are they sharing with their friends or inviting their friends to join? What is the gender and age breakdown of these participants? All this information can be accessed by setting up a challenge and that same information can help you with future grants or sponsorships to continue to offer similar programs in your community. Remember people like to play games, challenge their friends and share, this is the hallmark of a successful event, how engaged are your participants? Our next blog will focus more on the growth of participatory sports such as road races and mob events and how to capture engagement throughout the year as opposed to a one-time event. Let us know what you think about the blog or what you’d like us to write about, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Seasoned racers know that convenience plays a major role in the race experience, especially when it’s your first major race. There is enough anxiety with race performance without having to worry about how to get to the Start Line. For all the racers participating in the Scenic City Half and 5K, it was comforting to have an easy, clean-cut way to get there without adding to the pre-race jitters. As Monica explains, “The morning of the race, the starting line was a short walk from the hotel with no need to take a car or shuttle. The vibe was pretty relaxed before the event without booming music or corrals which can add excitement but also anxiety for a new runner. I thought it was neat that we started and ended in a stadium too where everyone could gather on the field. The course was beautiful without a bunch of hills. The scenery kept changing too, so there was always something interesting to see from the river, to businesses, to neighborhoods, etc. All around a great experience I would love to repeat.”
When racers want to repeat the same event, that means the race director is doing something right! To check out the Scenic City Half and 5K for yourself, visit http://www.sceniccityhalfmarathon.com/. Join Monica and other members and discover why exploring communities on cMEcompete is a great way to maximize your fitness experience. For Monica, “it’s fun and social. I can connect with others who have the same interests. It’s easy to see all the events that are posted and people can sign up for events all over the city and check out new places. cMEcompete is a path to discovering new people, places, and activities. Earning prizes is also a cool bonus!”
To become a member and browse communities to join and learn about their featured events, visit https://www.cmecompete.com/.
One of the great things about active communities on cMEcompete is that members of every community find races that they can participate in that they might not have known about previously. When member Monica Love joined the community, she began participating in the WINOT Run Club then found race event listings from other states as well as locally-operated. Discovering races was just the beginning. One of the events she chose to participate in was also her first half marathon, the Scenic City Half Marathon in Chattanooga, TN, which took place on February 22, 2014.
Why did she choose this out-of-state race for her first long distance event? “I love Chattanooga – it’s a beautiful city and I was able to run it with my friend, Sherry! The only thing I would change was that there was no food handed out after the race – just water. A banana would have been much appreciated. But overall, it was great for my first half,” shared Monica. A first impression with a race is always a lasting one and there is always a reason why a runner chooses a race whether it’s cost, location, race distance, race rewards or charitable cause.
For Monica, all these elements came into play when choosing the Scenic City Half: “The race was very affordable and some of the proceeds went to a charity you could pick from a list. For the price, runners received a shirt, hat, and medal. The hotel was also reasonable after applying the discount code from the website, and it was also nice that I could pick up my bib at the same location. After driving in from Atlanta and finding my hotel, I did not want to have to travel to another location to pick up my bib.” Offering conveniences to encourage out of town runners is a big bonus. It drives participation numbers up not only for the race but also for the city as a tourist destination!
Stay tuned for more information on this race and a first-time half marathoner’s experience!