During these uncertain times we are living in, local running and triathlon club Calne SMaRTT have been creating virtual challenges to motivate their members whilst living in lockdown. The Rainbow Challenges, as they have been named in support of the NHS, are friendly competitions designed to encourage members to contribute to a team effort and have a whole lot of fun taking part.
All club activities and races came to a halt when the country was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in an attempt to continue to motivate members throughout this period of isolation, club member and newly appointed committee member, Jennifer Colley, devised a plan. Luckily, we have been allowed outside for one form of exercise per day, so Jennifer utilised this for the benefit of the members’ ongoing fitness and mental health.
Jennifer has been living in Virginia, USA for the last two years, and is due to move back to Calne in August this year. She has remained an active member of the club via social media and the distance certainly hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm. “As soon as the lockdown restrictions began, I felt like I needed to do something to help others and keep my sanity. I was also feeling a long way from my home in Calne and missing my running club buddies.”
Influenced by the activities of a local running club in Virginia, Jennifer split the Calne SMaRTT members into five teams; red, yellow, orange, blue, and purple. For the first challenge, each member was asked to enter their longest run completed within the allocated week, and to post a photograph of themselves wearing their team colours on the club social media site. The team with the most miles won the challenge. Jennifer said, “I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and the colourful photographs, which I made into a rainbow montage.”
The second challenge is currently underway, and a little more involved. The team that logs the most miles walked, run, cycled or swum (open water approved sites only) between 8th May and midnight on 7th June, wins the challenge, and the winning team receives a take-away cream tea each, from a very kind anonymous donor.
Initially, the plan was to see if enough miles could be travelled to make it from Calne to Jennifer’s house in Virginia, but this was achieved in a mere 9 days, and so the challenge continues, and the teams are making their way around the world to various destinations known personally to other club members.
To ensure safe social distancing, the committee made it a rule that each team member is only allowed to contribute one activity per day, and it is to be strictly undertaken following government guidelines as they develop.
Jennifer has been astounded by the response. “Once again, the enthusiasm, commitment and downright competitiveness of the teams has been amazing. I enjoy seeing the results coming in each day, and reading the stories told about going off-piste and having humorous encounters with the local wildlife!”
The longevity of the challenge is proving to be very popular with the members. Sarah Markley, another long-distance member who lives abroad said, “It’s definitely provided me with a reason to get out there and run when there are no races to train for. I’ve also cycled more in the last three weeks than I have all winter! On a personal note, I’ve felt really connected to my running buddies back home because we’ve all had to run alone during lockdown.”
Member Anna Earl said, “I’ve loved being out on my mountain bike, and the friendly competition has definitely helped with motivation.”
It has encouraged member Stuart Welch to use his bike rather than drive to work. “It’s been a great idea put together by Jennifer. I have used my bike to commute to work on more shifts than I normally would, and I’ve saved over £100 in fuel.”
Many members have posted supportive comments on social media, repeatedly using words like “inspirational”, “brilliant”, “connected”, and “motivation”. There is no doubt that the members of Calne SMaRTT feel just as connected through these friendly virtual competitions as they did before lockdown.
Jennifer says it is all down to the members. “Without them, this challenge wouldn’t have become such a success. I am so proud of Calne SMaRTT, and so utterly grateful they agreed to my mad-cap ideas!”
Other club members have also taken it upon themselves to motivate each other virtually during lockdown. In the first few uncertain weeks, coach Kevin Cole filmed live circuit sessions for the members to join in with on social media, and other members frequently share their activities and achievements to encourage and support each other.
Calne SMaRTT will be launching a virtual 5k and 10k race that will be open to everybody. Entrants will have one month to enter and upload their results, and they will all receive a medal for their efforts. The club will be donating 100% of the entry fees to the Calne Food Bank. Keep an eye on the Calne SMaRTT public Facebook page for more information.