Pine Run villagers
hike Appalachian Trail Bucks County Herald April 28, 2016
Sixty-four villagers living at Pine Run Retirement Community in Doylestown are tallying up their collective steps along the pathways and walkways of their 43-acre campus, as well as tracking their progress on recumbent steppers and treadmill equipment in the community Fitness Center, all to reach their goal of arriving at Springer Mountain, Ga., the official end of the 2,200-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail, that extends from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia, by May 1.
Rather than challenging residents to complete the entire Appalachian Trail, Pine Run fitness gurus Maureen Goldsmith and Carol Nieto decided to begin their virtual hike at the Pennsylvania Water Gap, and head south, leaving a total of 1,289 miles needed to reach Springer Mountain in Georgia. But Goldsmith and Nieto underestimated the enthusiasm of the Pine Run villagers who have been totaling their steps since early February when their “hike” began.
Pine Run’s virtual hikers were so far ahead of schedule by early April that their goal was expanded to include the entire 2,200 miles of the longest hiking trail in the world.
Pine Run supplied all 64 participants with pedometers to record their daily steps. Individual steps were meticulously added to weekly totals, which were recorded on a giant Appalachian Trail Tracker mounted on the wall of the Fitness Center. Villagers could easily see their progress as well as their virtual location along the trail on any given day. Progress fueled enthusiasm, and as they found themselves moving closer and closer to the finish line, residents pushed themselves even harder to accumulate additional steps.
Pine Run villager “Riggie” Rigmore Diehl, who will turn 96 in July, says the “goal” makes all those daily session in the FitnessCenter “worthwhile.”
“When you’re working toward a target, the time just flies by on the equipment…and we’re almost there.”
Twila Halbom, another villager dedicated to fitness and to date the leader of The Step Challenge, also fastidiously charted on the huge Appalachian Trail Tracker and said, “This ‘walk’ makes coming up to the Fitness Center really fun. We compare steps, we compare times and we learn about each other in the process. Since we began walking ‘the trail’ we are having wayyyy more fun.”
“If you ask me, I think some people are putting their pedometers on their dogs – just to log in extra steps. I mean look at the numbers,” chimed in Irv Thompson, another regular at the Pine Run Fitness Center.
“Everyone is so engaged in this program. We had no idea the goal of walking the trail would spur such competition among our village participants. We’re planning a celebratory walk around our campus on May 4 to officially mark our accomplishments. This program has generated so much excitement that we are finishing ahead of schedule,” Goldsmith said.
“If you use 2,000 steps to log a single mile, and you walk a total of 2,200 miles, as we intend to do, that adds up to 4,400,000 steps; contributed by 64 participants averaging 68,750 each….and that’s a lot of ‘steppin.’ Now our next big challenge is, ‘Where will we walk in the fall? We’re already thinking about it,” Nieto beamed.