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 email@example.com
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!
Last week, we introduced you to Marlee Press, member of the City of Roswell Team in See.Walk.Cities. Marlee is an active member of her team and since our last post, she has moved to the top of the leaderboard! Her dedication and competitive spirit is definitely inspirational to us! But, we had to know who or what inspired her. According to Marlee, a quote by the infamous runner Steve Prefontaine has stuck with her: “You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” We agree. Whether or not you’re an Olympic runner or just want to maintain your health, running is a great way to feel accomplished and better about yourself.
While Marlee prefers to run alone and focus on her own self-improvement, she does admit to having a couple of running idols she’d love to run with. “I would love to run with Adam Richman from Man v. Food on the Travel channel. I read that he is a runner and runs because of all that food he eats and running helps him stay in shape. I would love to find out how he does it even with running and doesn’t blow up from all that eating. If I ate what he did, I would weigh over 200 pounds. So I would just love to chat with him while running. I do read a lot of articles about runners and Deena Kastor sounds like a great person to run with. She holds numerous American running records and she is just so committed and she is a mom. I would never be able to keep up with her but I would love to try and have her give me some tips.” It seems like Marlee could give us some tips to stay active and competitive! But she definitely has some pointers for other Georgia cities.
Her biggest belief is that many others love the same sense of accomplishment and challenging themselves and she doesn’t understand why more Georgia cities are not involved in the “See.Walk.Cities. Most Active City Challenge.” According to Marlee, there could be some benefit in more marketing of the challenge throughout the state and having the cities’ mayors challenge each other. Well, Game On, Marlee! “Making people healthy is so important and this is such a great way to do it. Who doesn’t want their city to have healthy, happy people. It just seems like such a logical easy concept,” encourages Marlee. It really is easy to join the challenge. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org today to join or visit https://www.cmecompete.com/communities/see-walk-cities/.
In January of this year, cMEcompete crowned the City of Roswell as the winner of the GMA “See.Walk.Cities.” Challenge for 2013. The Challenge between municipalities to be declared the most active city in Georgia has inspired a lot of activity and pride in hometowns across our state. Among Roswell’s active residents is Marlee Press. Marlee joined the “See.Walk.Cities.” Challenge in November 2013 and has been busy competing ever since! A longtime runner, Marlee began competing in road races in 1991 so when she found a way to keep her competitive spirit going by reading about “See.Walk.Cities.” in a local press release, she told herself to go for it. Marlee has definitely been going for it ever since! She is currently in 2nd place for the 2014 “See.Walk.Cities.” Challenge!
So why does Marlee run? Like many runners, she understands the physical benefits. “I come from parents with heart disease. I don’t want that to be me.” With heart disease being the #1 killer of women more than all cancers combined, running is definitely keeping her ahead of the curve for physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Beyond the physical benefits, Marlee is reaping the mental health benefits as well. “Running is great for my mental health. I have to admit – I enjoy running mostly by myself except at races. It is my ‘me’ time. I just put on my headphones, listen to a book or Neil Diamond or Bon Jovi and I am just happy.”
But, don’t let her laidback running style fool you. There’s a reason why she’s 2nd place in the “See.Walk.Cities.” Challenge. “When I see someone with close points to me, I just have to find another race. I love those points and I will continue to try to rack them up especially in a sport I love.” Sounds like a challenge! Some of Marlee’s favorite places to run are in Nashville with the Country Music Half Marathon to benefit St. Jude and of course in Roswell at Leita Thompson Park. Balancing out her running workout with other activities, she also enjoys walks with her husband and going for a ride on her Schwinn Airdyne Bike.
Stay tuned as we find out more about Marlee’s fitness success!