This summer, Liberty University encouraged its employees to get out and get fit with the 100 Mile Challenge, which culminates at the 39th annual Genworth Virginia 10 Miler on Sept. 29 in Lynchburg. As further incentive, Liberty paid the entry fee for employees who signed up to run the race.
Liberty has more than 100 employees signed up to participate in the event, which includes the 10 Miler, its 4-mile counterpart, a 4-mile walk, and 1-mile children’s run (on Sept. 28).
The 100 Mile Challenge is a citywide effort to promote healthy living. Participants were encouraged to log 100 miles — walking or running — between July 1 and Sept. 30. Liberty is currently in third place among the more than 90 companies and organizations participating, with more than 12,000 miles total.
From elite runners to everyday people just trying to stay healthy, Liberty’s employees are taking the challenge to heart.
Alumnus Mark Hopely (’11), an admissions evaluator with Liberty University Online, is currently leading the challenge with nearly 800 miles to his name, a healthy 150-plus miles above the closest challenger. Alumnus Richard Martin (’03), vice president of Financial Research & Analysis is also in the top five, with nearly 500 miles.
Hopely is training for the Richmond Half Marathon in November, is participating in Liberty’s triathlon challenge, and plans to run the Virginia 4 Miler. He hopes to finish in the top three in the Sept. 29 race.
“With Liberty reaching out to help staff lead healthier lives, it shows that they want something more for them. It’s very encouraging,” Hopely said. “It means everything to me for Liberty to do this because it helps me accomplish my athletic goals.”
Martin said he uses running to help clear his head and relieve stress. Though it is difficult, he still manages to find time to run and still balance time with his family, including a new child, and a demanding career.
Though Martin does not normally participate in races, and will not be able to run in next weekend’s race, he said he wanted to participate in the 100 Mile Challenge to support what Liberty is doing.
“Anything that Liberty can do to encourage an active lifestyle among its students and employees is a great way to increase participation in its programs and facilities, and its involvement in the region,” he said.
Many employees may not be contending for the highest mileage, but are finding encouragement in their progress nonetheless. Bob Boyer, director of Postal Services at Liberty, said he has struggled keeping fit, but knows it is important and has been positively influenced by Liberty’s challenge.
“I love that Liberty has recognized that healthy employees are happy, productive, and loyal employees,” Boyer said. “One of the big ways they have personally encouraged me is by providing the free early bird membership at LaHaye Student Union for all employees. The biggest thing I’ve found is that working on discipline, whether on what I am eating or filling my time with, is going to determine how successful I am.”
The early bird membership is free to Liberty employees from 5-8 a.m.
He said the 100 Mile Challenge was a great way to get started, and finishing the 4 Miler is something he looks forward to as another milestone on his journey to become fit.
Liberty is committed to the health and wellness of its employees and students. Countless opportunities are available for students through Campus Recreation, including top-notch workout facilities, intramural sports, the Liberty Mountain trail system, and a variety of races offered during the year.