Fierce Four first to Cali in walking challenge
From left to right, Loretta Hanna, Chloe Gibbs, Linda McAndrews and Kevin Myers walked 2,388 miles as members of Fierce Four. (Air Force photo/Kelly Deichert)
Fierce Four first to Cali in walking challenge

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

6/30/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- By working as a team and pushing themselves to walk more, the Fierce Four conquered the Bama to Cali Challenge.

Starting on March 14, 57 teams of four each walked 2,388 miles, the distance from Maxwell to California. The top three groups finished the race in less than three months.

The Maxwell Health and Wellness Center, or HAWC, hosted the program and provided pedometers to track steps.

Chloe Gibbs, Loretta Hanna, Linda McAndrews and Kevin Myers said they are proud to be the winning team, especially since three of team members spend eight hours a day at their desks at the Maxwell Airman and Family Readiness Center.

They made a conscious decision to be active during the day, such as walking to someone's office as opposed to sending an email.

"[Counting your steps] makes you park one or two spots down in the parking lot," Ms. McAndrews said.

Part of their success was working as a team, they said.

"It pulls you together, and you're accountable to one another," Ms. Gibbs said. "You don't want to let others down."

Though they motivated each other as a group, each participant chose a different regimen.

Ms. Gibbs teaches kick-boxing at the fitness center and runs in the mornings from home. Ms. Hanna stays active in spinning classes and by chasing her grandkids. Ms. McAndrews used her exercise equipment at home, while Mr. Myers ran at the base fitness center.

Having an indoor location helped Mr. Myers avoid excuses. "Even if it's bad outside, you can still walk inside," he said.

"I even wore mine [pedometer] mowing the yard," Ms. Hanna said.

The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General recommends at least 10,000 steps a day (about five miles), and the Fierce Four said they found it reasonable when they made an effort.

Ms. Gibbs learned how sedentary her day would be without her exercise classes.

"Without my daily workouts, I wouldn't get to 10,000 steps," she said.

The members of Fierce Four wrote down their total steps daily and submitted the logs to the HAWC every two weeks.

"When you combine four people walking, it goes faster than you think," Ms. McAndrews said.

The team won a gym bag full of prizes, including an exercise ball and towel. What was more important to them was learning to be more active, they said.

"Now it's routine," Ms. McAndrews said.

Due to the success of the Bama to Cali Challenge, the HAWC will consider another race. "I may do the opposite direction next time ... 'Back to Bama,'" said Wanda Myrick, the health education program manager who coordinated the program.

Bama to Cali winners

First place: the Fierce Four -- Chloe Gibbs, Linda McAndrews, Kevin Myers, Loretta Hanna
Second place: Hot Mommas -- Lori Welch, Annette Smith, Debbie Olsen, Katherine Lefeure
Third place: Southern Chix -- Bernadette Williams, Evelyn Alvies, Michelle Williams, Vickey Matthews