Monday, April 15, 2013

Second 100-Miler challenge: more people, more miles

“100-miler” the Active Andy mascot greets people at the finale party

“100-miler” the Active Andy mascot greets people at the finale party

All you have to do is look at the Roanoke River Greenway on a weekend: more and more people seem to be getting outside these days. It is also shown in the number of people that have signed up in the first two years of the Roanoke 100-Miler program – people that pledged to walk, run, bike, paddle or exercise 100 miles or more over the winter months, from January 7-April 15.

In the program’s second year 1307 signed up, compared to the 844 that took the pledge in 2012. The average amount of miles recorded rose also, from 222 per person to 249. 100-Milers received weekly e-mails telling them about places to walk, run, etc., sent to them by “Active Andy,” the fictional stick figure character that always seemed to be on the run.

Senior citizen Lori Engel took part for a second time. She appeared at the recent wrap-up party, where people shared success stories and entered a raffle for mountain bikes. Engel logged more than 200 miles each year. She logged 231 miles this time and added to that total on a daily basis. “Every morning I looked forward to it. I didn’t miss a day.”

Engel worked out at the Salem Senior Center and said she was going to keep active all year, not just wait for the next 100-Miler challenge. Engel also used the Murray Run Greenway and neighborhood roads around where she lives in Roanoke City. “I know I’m going to keep on doing this.”

That’s music to the ears of Joe Hanning, Roanoke City’s Outdoor Events Specialist, who dreamed up the Roanoke 100-Miler program and Active Andy along with his former boss, Paul Chapman, who left recently to head up the Parks & Recreation department in Franklin County.

“A dramatic increase,” in the number of people involved and to a lesser extent the average number of miles logged (participants could do that on line), even with the “terrible winter,” as Hanning put it.

More than 50% of all participants logged between 100 and 200 miles; 19% recorded between 200-300 miles in the three-month period. Just under one percent did more than 1000 miles. “That’s pretty impressive,” said Hanning, who favors mountain biking himself.

People “that have never touched the greenways,” often became acquainted with them for the first time during the 100-Miler challenge said Hanning, and now use them year round. Those that took part both years seemed to be more relaxed this time, noted Hanning, knowing how many miles they needed to log every week on average to meet the 100-mile (or better) goal. Hanning also wanted people to know about the city’s new website that is devoted to recreational activities, playroanoke.com.

More than 50 teams took part this winter, three times as many as a year ago, as people banded together to push as a group towards their goal. The Fleet Feet team alone had 76 members.  About half of those on hand at the wrap party (200 or so in total), held at Smith Park along the Roanoke River Greenway, were first time 100-Milers.

“This is not a competition,” said Hanning, “[but] when all is said and done we are all winners. Our goal…is to provide a wonderful service for our citizens…in the wintertime.” The Roanoke 100-Miler seems to have accomplished that mission in its first two years, at least for the hundreds that have taken part.

By Gene Marrano

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Local Events

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