Winters in the Pacific Northwest are not easy. I know winter, I was raised in Minnesota, land of 10,000 frozen lakes. I lived in Boston for sixteen years, the setting for the movie The Perfect Storm. Winter running in the Pacific Northwest has its own set of challenges. I’m still adjusting to all the rain. During January and February, my running shoes are in a constant state of dampness. The darkness never seems to end. The large mountains and trees that provide wonderful shade in the summer, block the rising eastern sun in the winter. In the eastern part of the Pacific Northwest, cities like Spokane are pummeled with snow. Wherever one chooses to run through a northern winter, challenges are plenty.
We all need a little extra motivation to get out the door in January. That’s the reason for the Northwest Winter Challenge. The Challenge is a virtual running activity in which participants encourage one another to run or walk at least one mile every day in January. Participants who run or walk outside at least one mile per day earn “Winter Warrior” status. To make it easy to track everyone’s progress, the Challenge has an app and mobile-friendly website where participants log their miles on an honor system. The app shows the leaderboard for individuals and teams in a number of categories.
The community we created through the Challenge last year was overwhelmingly supportive. We had almost 500 participants. Many of the participants encouraged each other on the Challenge’s Facebook page. I received numerous emails in January from participants thanking the Challenge for providing extra motivation. Some participants were going through quite difficult times. One person wrote to me and said he used it as motivation to stay in shape through his cancer treatment. Others told me stories about how the Challenge gave their family an activity to do together. I also received messages later in the year from participants telling me the Challenge jump-started their fitness regimen for the year. In addition, we raised a $1000 donation to Eastside Baby Corner, a charity organization in Issaquah.
This year I am excited to deliver the Northwest Winter Challenge again with the support of my employer SHOES-n-FEET and our friends at Northwest Trail Runs. We have a large number of sponsors, including top shoe and gear brands that are donating prizes for our daily live Facebook raffle. Again, donations will go to Eastside Baby Corner.
During the Challenge, look for stories about Northwest Winter Challenge community members with an inspirational story to tell.
Learn more about the Northwest Winter Challenge.
Adam Stuhlfaut is the Director of Running at SHOES-n-FEET in Bellevue.