Pathletes finish first in AT Team Steps Challenge

Posted on May 24, 2021 by Carol McPhail
Carol McPhail

Logo for Race the AT data-lightbox='featured'

Six teams chalked up millions of steps in February and March during the virtual Race the AT Team Steps Challenge, a wellness initiative hosted by the Office of Graduate Medical Education and JagFIT.
The first team to amass 4.3 million steps – the length of the Appalachian Trail -- was the Pathletes team from pathology. The IMcredibles from internal medicine placed second, and the Competitive Coordinators beat out team Shade from radiology to finish third. Other teams included the Coderunners and FAMMED. 

Carole Boudreaux, M.D., associate dean for Graduate Medical Education, said the challenge was organized to promote physical well-being and was part of an initiative to pursue overall well-being through a new curriculum.
“I was very pleased with how many residents, faculty and staff participated in the Appalachian Trail Challenge,” she said. “As the challenge progressed, we saw how it was also a wonderful opportunity to build community as teams and ‘rivalries’ among the departments.” 

She said the GME office intends to make the virtual race a yearly event. 

The Race the AT Team Steps Challenge began Feb. 14, when the six teams began counting steps on a virtual Appalachian Trail. The real AT is a 2,180-mile public footpath that traverses the Appalachian Mountains between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. 

For the GME challenge, hiking the AT virtually often meant hitting the gym, walking at home or making laps around the hospital during a break.
“I have an alarm set for 4:35 a.m. to get in 3.5 miles at the track before work,” said Jennifer A. Russell, MA, CPC, director of operations for pathology and radiology. Russell, a member of the Pathletes team, racked up more than 1.9 million individual steps during the challenge – the most by a single participant.
Russell said her teammates motivated each other to do their best. “Dr. (Elliott) Carter bought a Fitbit when this challenge started, and almost hourly, we were all comparing how many steps we had,” she said. “Pam Frink is the ultimate JagFIT fan and tried to keep us motivated. Farhana (Akther) started a group text where we would compare steps and cheer each other on.”
At one point during the challenge, the IMcredibles caught up with the Pathletes. “We really started upping our game,” Russell said. “Many of us would do a quick lap around the University Hospital campus at lunch to keep moving, and many of us kept a set of sneakers under our desks in case we had a break and could get some steps in.”
As the winning team, the Pathletes will receive customized T-shirts, JagFIT fleece blankets, JagFIT water bottles and JagFIT beanies. Individual winners also will receive prizes. 

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