Hub City 100-Miler promotes positive lifestyle changes
For the sixth year in a row, the City of Hagerstown is heading up an effort to get people moving.
Participants in the Hub City 100-Miler commit to walking at least one mile a day, or to take part in an equivalent physical activity, for 100 days.
City Recreation Coordinator Amy Riley said the effort was in response to high obesity rates that beleaguer the area.
According to Gallup .com, in data collected between 2012 and 2013, the Hagerstown-Martinsburg, W.Va., area was ranked No. 3 on a list of the most obese cities with an obesity rate of more than 36 percent.
“This is a way to get people to walk, run and move in the New Year,” Riley said. “Aerobic activity such as yoga, biking and fitness classes also count as miles.”
The kickoff to the 2019 Hub City 100-Miler will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, at The Fit Room at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown.
“We have to start early because of the dark. We will all walk the first mile together,” she said.
The kickoff will feature information and resources from event sponsors; fitness assessments; blood pressure and other health screenings; nutritional information; and more.
Registration costs $20 including a 100-Miler T-shirt, $25 with a long-sleeved T-shirt, and $10 without a shirt. Registration with a dog includes a T-shirt and a doggie bandana for $25.
Individuals who are not yet registered can do so at the kickoff, and late registration extends through Thursday, Jan. 31. The program will conclude Saturday, April 27, with a health and wellness finale in partnership with Herald-Mail Media.
During the first year of the Hub City 100-Miler, roughly 650 people participated. The effort has gained momentum, with around 1,600 participants last year.
This year, Riley said, she is hoping for even more. Many people take part in the program not just one time, but every year.
“A lot of people look forward to the challenge. The timing is right,” she said. “At the beginning of a new year, people are looking for ways to get healthier. The 100-Miler offers a simple way to change health and fitness habits.”
The program offers two methods of self-reporting. Some people hand write on a mileage tracking sheet that is later submitted. Others link a Fitbit or other wireless device to an online tracking system through ChallengeRunner. The online option allows participants to compare their progress with that of others.
“The 100-Miler started because of the obesity epidemic. We kept hearing how obese Washington County was and we wanted to have an initiative to help people get moving. Especially in the winter months when it’s cold outside and it’s so tempting to go home and wrap up in a blanket. We wanted to get people motivated and inspired,” Riley said.
The fitness activities of participants vary widely. Some simply walk, others exercise at home with fitness videos, and many explore alternate options of sustained activity for at least 20 minutes.
“It can be shoveling snow one day for a neighbor or taking the kids roller skating,” Riley said. “Some things we don’t think of as exercise because we are having fun, but there are many ways to get that 20 minutes or that daily mile. In the spring, we will be using the park, outside enjoying nature.”
The program offers flexibility in that someone might choose to do two or three miles one day and take a break the next.
Participants receive the weekly Hub City 100-Miler newsletter, which provides recipes and motivational tips and ideas to help reach their 100-mile goal. They also are eligible to win weekly prizes. The first year of the 100-Miler, there was one prize awarded per week, but with increased community support, organizers now are able to provide three per week.
Prizes include free registration to fitness-related events including a color splash 5K and the St. Patrick’s Day Run Fest; swim passes; membership to area gyms and fitness centers; and local restaurant gift cards. At the end of the 100 days, grand prizes will be awarded, including sports bikes; a “smart” watch; a GoPro camera; and zip-lining, rafting, skiing and snowboarding packages.
Some business entities, including the city of Hagerstown, Volvo, and Washington County Public Schools, sponsor employees through corporate wellness programs.
“A lot of companies offer the 100-Miler as a wellness initiative because it’s a turnkey program. They don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Riley said. “We do all the work for them.”
While the Hub City 100-Miler is based in Hagerstown, registration is open to anyone. Some participants register with family across the U.S., Riley said, tracking progress online and working together to stay motivated across the miles.
New to the program this year is the 100-Miles More Add-on for $5. Participants who double their goal to two miles per day for 100 days will earn a medal.
“We figured we have a lot of repeat 100-Milers. A lot of folks like to push themselves, so we decided to up the ante to 100 miles more,” Riley said. “We’ve already had several calls from repeaters who are excited about that.”
Ultimately, she said, the program aims to help people make a lifestyle change and to enjoy it.
“We hope people will make positive changes. Make it fun, sign up with a friend, get the miles in with your dog, try something new,” Riley said. “This is a way to keep everyone motivated and feeling like a team, part of something bigger than yourself.”
Top photo: Participants in the Hub City 100-Miler warm up at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown. (Herald-Mail file photo)