A longtime program to encourage people to be active, ’100 Miles in 100 Days Challenge,‘ has set a record for participation already and doesn’t even begin until Friday, according to Arwen Turner, executive director of Come Alive Outside.

Participants are challenged to walk 100 miles by Sept. 25. Turner said those involved, who include individuals and teams, many of them co-workers or friends, are being encouraged to add a healthy activity like walking to their routine and are generally expected to walk a mile a day through the course of the event.

The goal is to get people to establish and track healthy walking habits and be mindful about daily habits that can decrease stress and improve a person’s health, Turner added.

Turner, who became executive director of Come Alive Outside in 2019, called the challenge a Rutland tradition which she said has been hosted by different agencies.

“Now Come Alive Outside is the keeper of the program. It’s evolved since we’ve had it,” she said.

One big change came out of the pandemic.

The challenge had traditionally been for Vermonters, especially residents of Rutland County.

But the walking challenge was something a person could do to stay healthy but participate alone or with a single friend or relative.

Last year, the challenge opened to other parts of Vermont and the country.

As a result, Turner said about 2,200 participants logged miles by themselves or through a captain who kept track of a team’s miles.

This year, there are more than 6,000 people taking the challenge although Turner said the majority of the participants are still Rutland County residents.

“I think in the pandemic world, people were looking to find socially-distant ways to be healthy. I also think that walking really does ease stress and anxiety and in the last year, it’s kind of been the only thing we’ve had. The outdoors is something we’ve been encouraged to do and so with that and with it consistently being there and us opening it up to people across the state and for people to invite their friends and family from other states, it became a way for people to connect and be together even when they were apart,” she said.

Turner pointed out that true to the mission of Come Alive Outside, there were a number of health benefits to being outside and the challenge was a way to encourage participants to be outside at least part of every day.”

Under Come Alive, there are three iterations during the year, 30 miles in 30 days and 50 miles in 50 days in addition to the 100-mile challenge that will kick off on Friday.

Individuals can visit the website comealiveoutside.com to sign up through Friday.

The challenge is not restricted to people of a certain age or for Vermonters or Rutland County residents. Turner added that organizers, wanted to reach people where they are.

“If a mile is too much of a goal for someone, set that goal lower. Maybe reaching a mile is that 100-day goal. We really want this program to be for everyone,” she said.

A group walk is planned for Aug. 7 for those participating in the challenge and who want a more social event.

Turner said those signing up are entered into a Facebook group where members encourage each other and, in some cases, plan group walks.

patrick.mcardle

@rutlandherald.com

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