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City employees join wellness challenge to walk around the world

Nancy Harvill said people have been asking her why so many City of Covington employees are walking around town recently.

Her answer is they are part of a Walking Towards Wellness Challenge aimed to improve the health of those involved by taking part in a wellness program provided by the City’s insurance company, including a group walk that began at Turner Lake at 7 a.m. Saturday.

But it’s more than logging steps.

Of the city’s 326 employees, Harvill, benefits manager for the City of Covington, said 119 were broken into 10- to 11- person teams and are halfway through a 12-week challenge to log enough miles to walk around the world.

“My objective, what I’d love to see, is on the last week for everybody to have averaged their 10,000 steps a day, which is considered healthy,” Harvill said.

After six weeks, employees have logged a total of 2,119.29 miles, with not much more to go before reaching the goal of 24,901.

Harvill said they created a route at the beginning of the program, and participants finished it in the first week. They walked to every city in the county, receiving an award at each city. They logged enough combined miles to walk every step of the Wall of China.

The 10 teams – the top three of which are “Dominators,” “Making Strides” and “The Runs” – have pedometers for each employee, who turn individual miles into the team leader each Friday for results to be posted by Monday. The City provided safety vests so they can walk on roads.

However, the most popular routes are the Eastside Trail and Fuzz Run trail, Harvill said. Other walking destinations have been to start at the airport and walk back to the city, Stone Mountain and Turner Lake.

At the end of the program, the top three teams and individuals, as well as the top 10 percent of all participants, will receive gift certificates and prizes.

Currently in the lead is Anthony Johnson, of the Street and Transportation Department, but everyone calls him “Catfish.” He logged 446.60 by the end of the sixth week. Following not too far behind is Don Henderson, the city’s warehouse coordinator, with 402.07 miles, with Randy St. Clair, a city accountant who plans to retire soon, picking up third with 370.65 miles.

“It really has been bringing the whole city together,” Harvill said.

While they may all be city employees, Harvill said, departments do not have many opportunities to interact with each other, and this has been an ice breaker across the board.

Catfish is on “The Runs,” which currently holds third place in the team competition with 2,276.60 total miles.

Harvill said Catfish was sick for two days and only logged about 29 miles, so he took a day off to walk. He ended up turning in more than 120 hours this week.

Employees can choose anything from long walks or short, 15-minute laps around City Hall during lunch.

“People are already asking to do it again,” Harvill said.

So if you see people walking from City Hall to the police department to deliver papers instead of sending an email, now you’ll know why.