September's virtual Chatham County Challenge a success for parks and recreation department

BY CHAPEL FOWLER, News + Record Staff
Posted 10/7/20

PITTSBORO — Walking, running and biking their way across parks, trails and backroads, 100 local participants made last month’s inaugural Chatham County Challenge a success.

The county parks …

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September's virtual Chatham County Challenge a success for parks and recreation department

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Posted

PITTSBORO — Walking, running and biking their way across parks, trails and backroads, 100 local participants made last month’s inaugural Chatham County Challenge a success.

The county parks and recreation department officially announced Monday the winners of its 30-day virtual challenge, designed to keep the public active and engaged in some friendly competition this fall during the coronavirus pandemic, which has canceled a slew of previously planned events.

“This was a very good substitute,” cyclist Donald Trull said.

“It made us feel like we were doing something together,” participant Beth Goldston added. “We had that sense of community.”

In the three-headed event, bikers were encouraged to complete a 100-kilometer race (62 total miles over a month) and runners and walkers were encouraged to complete a 50-kilometer race (31 miles total). All participants completed their exercises individually and logged their miles virtually via the MapMyFitness app.

Trull, 68, and Goldston, 67, were two of the challenge’s top finishers. Trull earned first-place honors in the bike division, logging 750 miles, and Goldston was the only participant to place in all three events.

The two other first-place finishers were Lance Harden of Moncure, who logged 257 running miles, and Roger Saunders of Siler City, who logged 317 walking miles. In all, just over 50 of the 100-plus participants met the mileage thresholds set for them by the department.

“(We’re) so glad to have created something that promotes physical activity and motivation through community engagement,” Tracy Burnett, the parks and recreation director, said in a release.

Trull, a retired photographer/videographer, heard about the Chatham County Challenge from his wife, who saw an advertisement for it just a few days before the Aug. 31 sign-up deadline. He tries to bike 80 to 100 miles a week already, so “I figured I could up it just a bit,” he said, to around 200 a week.

“It’s good therapy,” he said, adding with a laugh: “This is a good time to have strong lungs.”

Goldston, an artist who works primarily in oil painting, saw information for the challenge on the Nextdoor app. She, too, decided to work extra time into her routines — she’s a frequent biker and runner. The only question: would she specialize?

“I thought: ‘Well gosh, I like to run, I like to walk and I like to bike. So I’d do all of them,’” she said.

The parks and rec department posted weekly leaderboards on its Facebook page, and participants could also check them any time within the app. Although Trull ran away with first place after Week One with 267.5 bike miles, Goldston found herself in a tight battle for second, third or fourth place.

“Every time you log activity, you see where everybody stands,” she said. “Even though I say I’m not a competitive person, it did spur me on.”

After a month, Goldston’s final numbers were: 274 biking miles (second), 39 walking miles (32nd) and 31 running miles (18th). Everyone who completed the challenge got a free T-shirt via a department sponsor, but Goldston got an extra $25 gift card from a co-sponsor for her versatility.

Feedback across the board was positive. Multiple participants have reached out and complimented the virtual program as something that “really enhance(d) their physical and mental health,” Burnett said in the release. The department’s now looking into a similar challenge in the future.

When and if that happens, count Trull and Goldston as possible participants and definite supporters.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Goldston said. “It brought people together.”

“I hope they do it again,” Trull added. “It definitely filled a void.”

Reporter Chapel Fowler can be reached at cfowler@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.

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