The Hood College Trail Blazers have lived up to their name, blazing a path to victory by taking over 2.7 million collective steps in their effort to “Walk Across America” last month.
The Trail Blazers team, consisting of Hood College faculty including President Andrea Chapdelaine, the president’s executive assistant, admissions staff, and Vice President of Marketing Laurie Ward, walked 2,702,551 steps for LiveWell Frederick’s 2020 Walk Across America Challenge. This is the inaugural year of the challenge, with the Trail Blazers taking home the first-ever first place recognition.
“We definitely have a competitive spirit,” says Laurie of her team. “I would collect the steps each week, and I’d be like, ‘next week, we need to hit 600,000.’”
Walk Across America is a free, virtual walking challenge that helps everyone stay healthy. The challenge increases each team member’s physical and emotional well-being and helps them navigate the pandemic and its stressors with exercise. Every team tallies the number of steps each member takes daily. The team with the most collective steps at the end of the month wins.
The Trail Blazers weren’t the only Walk Across America team at Hood College. Other teams included The Hood Blazers, Hood College FH, Hood College Field Hockey, and the Hood Field Hockey 3. Throughout Frederick County, nearly 50 teams participated in the challenge, which lasted October 1-31.
Despite the name, Walk Across America doesn’t limit participants to walking. Team members can bike, dance, swim, and more—as long as they’re tracking their steps. Those who exercise in a way that can’t be tracked by steps can convert their exercise minutes to steps. At the end of every week, each team’s designated leader enters the collected steps in a tracking dashboard.
The Trail Blazers didn’t always walk as a full team, but since Laurie and Andrea are neighbors, they occasionally gained steps by walking their dogs together, masked and socially distanced. And, the paths that wind around Hood’s beautiful campus were the perfect setting for the team’s daily steps.
Laurie says this challenge was a great way to encourage faculty to step away from their desks more during the workday, even if it was for a short walk around the building. Since the challenge, Laurie’s team is more mindful of getting up from their desks and moving throughout the day. Personally, Laurie appreciates the challenge because it has inspired her to continue hitting her goal of 11,000 steps each day—a goal she proudly accomplished throughout October.
There’s a reason we call it the Walk Across America Challenge. It’s all about making healthy choices, with a little friendly competition. As the Trail Blazers eagerly watched the results of the other local teams’ standings, another local team appeared to be ahead. The teams were neck and neck. But when the final results were announced on November 9, the Trail Blazers were ecstatic to find out they’d won.
“We were thrilled when we came out on top,” Laurie says. “It was exciting to see so many Hood teams involved.”
Laurie says the team is “absolutely looking forward to doing the challenge again” in 2021.
“We’d love something longer than a month,” she says. “It went by too quickly.”