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Liberty staff off to strong start in 100 Mile Challenge

July 25, 2014 : Liberty University News Service

Live Healthy Lynchburg’s 100 Mile Challenge is underway and Liberty University faculty and staff have already logged more than 10,000 miles, about 21.7 miles per participant. Of all local organizations currently participating in the challenge, Liberty leads the closest competitor by about 6,000 miles.

The 100 Mile Challenge is one of the ways that Live Healthy Lynchburg, a local wellness initiative, seeks to encourage community members to get out and stay active. From July 1 through Sept. 26, participants can track their mileage online.

Liberty also participated and was a leader in the Strive for Five Challenge, which ended in June and spurred participants to engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five days per week.

The 100 Mile Challenge ends before the annual Virginia 10 Miler and 4 Miler Run and Walk in Lynchburg on Sept. 27, and all participants are encouraged to take part in one of the events. As further incentive for Liberty employees, the university offers free registration for the Sept. 27 races if they sign up as members of Team Liberty. Faculty and staff must use their Liberty email address as their username and can enter a password of their choosing. They will then be prompted for a code: Liberty2014. Deadline for Team Liberty registration is Aug. 11.

Lead by example

Brothers Matthew and Josh Zealand, who both work in Liberty’s Information Technology Department (Matthew is the Chief Information Officer and Josh is the director of Business Intelligence), are both avid runners taking on the challenge for Team Liberty. They often run together during lunch breaks and help encourage each other to go the extra mile.

“It is fun to see people use the 100 Mile Challenge as a way to motivate themselves,” Josh Zealand said. “For me, it’s great to have something to set a goal for. Some days it is not easy to find motivation to get out the door … but (the challenge) is a good reason to force myself out.”

The IT Department has accounted for about a quarter of Liberty’s miles, although it only represents about 8 percent of the university’s staff. As CIO, Matthew Zealand encourages his employees to participate and has set up four teams within IT to bolster competition and interest.

“It really has sparked a lot of camaraderie and friendships,” Matthew Zealand said. “I think that is all part of the running experience. The full wellness of an individual is not just your physical fitness but also having those relationships.”

He added that by taking a leading role in programs like the 100 Mile Challenge, Liberty is setting a strong example to the community.

“It’s part of being a Christian,” he said, “physical health is important, just like spiritual health.”

Healthy Attitude

Since beginning working in Liberty’s Marketing Department three years ago, Morgan Kane, a project coordinator, has appreciated how the university continues to promote healthy living.

“With the nature of my job being where I am sitting at a computer most of the day I feel it is very important to make sure my health is always in check and at the forefront of my mind,” Kane said. “With having a workplace that incorporates a healthy atmosphere and attitude it has really influenced both my work life and personal life.”

She said challenges, like Strive for Five or the 100 Mile Challenge, are a great resource because they allow you to track your progress online.

Opportunities for Activity

Medals from the Commonwealth Games
Lee Beaumont, senior vice president for Auxiliary Services, won 13 medals in the Commonwealth Games of Virginia.

The university also encourages its staff members to take part in the Commonwealth Games of Virginia, which run from July through November and give male and female participants of all ages and skill levels an opportunity to compete in a variety of sports. This year, Lee Beaumont, senior vice president for Auxiliary Services, has reaped 13 medals, including eight gold, in various running, swimming, and field events.

Liberty also goes to going to great lengths to offer a variety of resources to students, staff, and the community that are specifically designed to encourage physical health and wellness. Staff are offered free memberships during certain hours at the LaHaye Student Union, Liberty’s primary workout facility. Over the past year, the fitness center has undergone a multi-million-dollar expansion, part of the university’s $500 million campus rebuilding, and it will feature more than $1 million in new equipment. The fitness center will be open to registered employees from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and weekends starting in the fall semester.

Faculty, staff, and in many cases the community at large, also have access to Liberty’s diverse recreational amenities, including miles of beautiful trails on Liberty Mountain, Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, and the LaHaye Ice Center.

Healthy eating is also an important aspect of wellness and Liberty makes sure there are plenty of healthy dining options across campus. Even more options have been revamped this summer. Staff can purchase employee meal plans for the dining hall, or find tasty, nutritious options at the various campus restaurants.