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Walkers encouraged to make it personal
new slt walkkansas walking
Personal Fitness Trainer Karen Wilder, second from right, joins members of Walk Kansas teams on a walk through Brit Spaugh Park, Tuesday afternoon. The eight-week Walk Kansas fitness challenge is half-way through. To Wilders immediate left is Anne Behan, captain of a Walk Kansas team, who is preparing to walk 39.3 miles for another event in June. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune





The eight-week Walk Kansas fitness challenge hit the mid-way point this week, leaving four weeks for teams to reach their goal. Some six-person teams are collectively walking 423 miles — the length of Kansas — while others are walking 1,200 miles — the perimeter of the state.

In the Walk Kansas program, 15 minutes of exercise can be counted as one mile. Each team selects a name, and team captains turn in weekly reports on minutes of exercise. They are also encouraged to report the number of servings of fruits and vegetables eaten each week. It’s not really a competition, but most teams are listed on the website, along with their numbers.

The Barton County Extension and Great Bend Recreation Commission hosted a pep rally/walk on Tuesday afternoon, bringing in Certified Personal Trainer Karen Wilder to provide some motivating words. Only a handful of the approximately 500 people registered on Barton County teams attended, but those who did got some helpful advice, a bottle of water and a piece of fruit, as well as a Walk Kansas water bottle or other swag from the Kansas State University Extension.

Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Donna Krug from the local Extension office said she almost didn’t schedule a walk/pep rally this year. "The last few years, it’s been 40 degrees," she said. But for this, the 10th year of Walk Kansas, the temperature was around 70 and several people worked in a 20-30 minute walk through Brit Spaugh Park between Wilder’s initial talk, and her wrap-up comments and stretching tips.

Wilder recommends people make long-term and short-term goals for every area of their lives, including fitness, and that they put those goals in writing. A short-term goal can be anything that can be done in a week to three months. "To say, ‘I want 100 pounds gone in two months’ is not a realistic goal," she said.

"What motivates for one person isn’t going to work for another person," Wilder continued. "You have to find what works for you. Do some soul searching."

Participants in Walk Kansas have found motivation in various ways. Some enjoy the team work, Krug said, noting Great Bend company CPI Qualified Plan Consultants has 17 teams this year.

Some come back year after year. At Tuesday’s rally, Rosie Luthi wore a 2004 Walk Kansas shirt. She said she first joined a Walk Kansas team with coworkers in Edwards County. This year she’s walking with the Beta Babes team in Barton County.

For Anne Behan, captain of the team Pink Path Pacers, Walk Kansas is a stepping stone, so to speak, as she prepares for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer later this year. Over a two-day period in June, Behan will walk 39.3 miles in the Rocky Mountains. This is her second year to join Avon’s walk/fundraiser. "These gals keep me going, for sure," she said of her Walk Kansas teammates.

Wilder encouraged the walkers to continue to make time for fitness after Walk Kansas ends in four weeks. "I’m never sorry when I work out," she said, but she has regretted the times she could have worked out but chose to stay on the couch for 30 minutes instead.

On the Web: For more information on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and to support Behan, go to For more information on Wilder’s Pilates of Great Bend business, go to