MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

April 2, 2013

Trail Week continues in city

Walk, run or ride the many trails of Muskogee

— We all know people who have invested in treadmills or other fitness equipment only to watch them become overpriced dust collectors or clothes racks.

Perhaps we’ve even done that ourselves. We have healthy intentions and perfectly good equipment to support our goals, but then we struggle with the motivation or follow-through to put that equipment to good use.

Similarly, the Muskogee trail system is as useful as the use we give it.

This week, April 1–7, fitness enthusiasts are encouraging area residents to get out and walk, run or ride the Muskogee trails together.

From friendly strolls to more intense runs to group bicycle rides, more than 17 activities planned this week are designed to get people active on various portions or our community trail system.

Doug Walton, bicycle enthusiast and coordinator of the Muskogee County Food & Fitness Initiative, organized Muskogee’s first Trail Week.

“We’re doing this week of activities in hopes of getting more folks out on the great trails we have in Muskogee to see how nice these shared-use paths are, and how easy it is to use them,” Doug said.

Started in 1998 with approximately $800,000 in federal (80 percent) and local funding  invested to build the about 9 mile local trail system. Centennial Trail was primarily constructed on no-longer-used railroad tracks and stretches from near the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame at Fourth and Elgin streets, west to the Hatbox Sports Complex, before meandering back along U.S. 69 to head east again to North Main Street near Shawnee Blvd.

“Unlike other communities, we were lucky to have those existing railroad right-of-ways that crisscross through our town that we were able to capture and keep for the trail use,” said Mark Wilkerson, Muskogee Parks and Recreation Department director.  “A lot of communities our size wouldn’t have the railroads through town, let alone to create a loop. And, having the federal grant money available to support that trail helped jumpstart the project.”

Mayor Bob Coburn will lead a 30-minute walk at 12:15 p.m. Friday from City Hall.

Coburn, who last year participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk to support breast cancer funding and research, took advantage of the trails to train for the 60-mile walk in Dallas.

“It is interesting that we have such a neat asset in our community toward health and wellness. We need to use it more,” Mayor Coburn said. “Get out, adults and kids alike, and take advantage of these trails for fun and for exercise right in our neighborhoods.”

Mayor Coburn will be training again this year to complete the 60-mile challenge this November.

For many people, venturing out on the trails with a group is a great way to start.

The City of Muskogee Wellness Initiative challenged the sitting City Council members to each lead a community walk once over the next eight weeks to help introduce more people to the trails.

I first began using the trails by teaming up with the Muskogee Running Club for Saturday morning runs on the Centennial Trail Hatbox Loop at the Love-Hatbox Sports Complex.

Getting out with a group helped me gain familiarity and confidence with the trails. Since then, the trails have offered a perfect location for my daughter to improve her bike riding skills and for my adopted shelter dog to get her exercise leading (okay…pulling) me along the path.

Take advantage of the opportunities this week to join up with a group and become familiar with different parts of the trails or trails in the parks. For an updated trail map, visit www.muskogeewellness.org or www.

muskogeeparks.org.

“We know that sometimes it’s even easier to get active on the trails if you have a buddy or a group to join up with, for support and encouragement,” Doug said.

With the many activities planned throughout the remainder of this week, and throughout the year, anyone interested in exercising on the trails can find an opportunity to do so with a group.

“We’ll be happy if we even get a handful more people out on the trails for the first time, and even happier if they end up walking, running or riding on the trails again after this week-long opportunity.”

Events planned today through Sunday, April 7 include:

Lisa Wade Raasch coordinates the City of Muskogee Wellness Initiative and directs the EOK Health Care Coalition. For more information about Walk, Run or Ride the Muskogee Trails week, visit www.muskogeewellness.org or www.facebook.com/MuskogeeWellness.

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