This article first appeared in the April 21 edition of The News Reporter.
Take the Lake announces 2014 theme
The blossoms of spring herald the start of the Take the Lake training season, appropriate for the event’s 2014 theme of “Agriculture.”
The largest fitness project in Columbus County, Take the Lake is actually four events, called “Personal Endurance Challenges.” Participants walk or run 15 miles around Lake Waccamaw, cycle and walk 15 miles, kayak 14 miles or swim four miles.
Held over Labor Day weekend, the free event grew out of a
generations-old tradition of swimming across Lake Waccamaw.
Organizers chose the agriculture theme to “plant the seed of fitness” this year, and they are working with area agricultural leaders to grow the event larger than ever. Dalton Dockery, director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Columbus County, has energized his office to rally farmers toward better health.
“Our farmers spend their lives growing food to make the world healthier,” Dockery said. “It’s unfortunate that sometimes their own fitness gets neglected.”
Farming has long offered a healthy lifestyle, with hard work keeping up strength and a close-to-the-earth diet keeping down weight. But the life enjoyed by the American farm family has changed over the generations with changes in technology, workplace and society.
“Lots of times, farmers don’t get the exercise they need,” Dockery said, “or it’s sporadic and seasonal – we all need to remind ourselves about our own health.”
Especially adults. Dockery fondly recalls his athletic youth, which has been replaced lately with work and family. So, this year he has renewed his focus on fitness, accepting the Take the Lake Walk / Run and Bike & Hike PECs.
“I’m excited about the agriculture theme this year,” Dockery said, “because it has given me an added incentive to train and do better with my own regimen. I will train this summer because I have set a goal and I intend to achieve it.
“You have to adopt a lifestyle change,” Dockery said about why it’s important to train at least through the summer. “You’ve got to adopt that mindset.” He is considering Take the Lake as not just a hurdle he has to jump over, but as part of a year-round regimen of exercise and diet, and something to help get him back to somewhere near his college weight of 165 pounds.
“Farmers exercise a lot just doing their work – especially during growing season,” Dockery said. “We’d like to see them also having some fun, and Take the Lake is a lot of fun; jogging, cycling, swimming or paddling a kayak are great ways to enjoy exercise with the whole family.”
Extension agents Meleah Collier and Michael Shaw are Take the Lake veterans and will make fitness in Columbus County a truly cooperative effort. They and other agents have always focused on the health of their community, but farmers can expect to hear much more from them about health and fitness this year. The service will pass along more literature than usual about exercise and diet, and will bring up the topics during meetings, classes, seminars and conversations, Dockery said.
The extension service serves more than farmers, and offers classes on healthy cooking, for example, that anyone may attend. Offices in all 100 North Carolina counties are an “extension” of N.C. State University.
This is the fourth year that Take the Lake has used themes in its promotions, starting in 2011 with military and veterans, then educators in 2012 and law enforcement last year. The event has realized a surge in participation each year from those groups, and it is hoped they will remember their participation and continue to build their fitness and inspire others.
Inspired by his marathon-running brother, Dockery understands the power of peer motivation and hopes that farmers and their families and friends will team up to build fitness spirit.
For the past three years, several people have challenged themselves to achieve all four PECs in a single day in what organizers call their X-TREME! challenge the weekend prior to Take the Lake. Unlike the events over Labor Day weekend, this one is a race, and the man who has taken home a first-place banner all three years is a farmer.
Thomas Mintz, who raises hogs in Ash, has beat the competition by swimming, cycling, paddling and running 48 miles in less than 11 hours. He has said he plans to retire from solo competition this year and will join his family on a team.
Take the Lake is promoted to adults, but teenagers and even younger children have successfully participated with their parents’ support and supervision, so it’s not surprising the weekend has been celebrated as a family event, and for more reasons than one.
“You know what I really want, and what I think Take the Lake will help me with?” Dockery said. “I want to be around to see my grandkids.”
More information and registration is available at Takethelake.org.
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Council Tool Company
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Dale's Seafood Restaurant
Powell and Powell Law
Sam’s Pit Stop
Special Service Sponsors
Body Shapers Fitness Center
Lake Time Vintiques
The News Reporter
Take a few minutes and reel through the years of Take the Lake, as we review the many themes and posters that have helped make fitness more fun in Columbus County! Click here
After spending several years at the very bottom of the County Health Ranking -- as the least healthy county in all of North Carolina -- we have improved our lifestyles enough to move up to 96, and we are proud to be so healthy!
DID YOU KNOW...
that the second-most-popular Boy Scout merit badge in the U.S. is for Swimming? And the ninth-most-popular is Personal Fitness? Yes!
Six girls complete
all four PECs.
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