A large group of festive fitness fans completed their 35 day exercise “streak” with a joint mile at the Clickimin running track on New Year’s Eve.
Organiser Kerry Geddes said the event was a way for people to come together to celebrate their success and to see how much their fitness had improved.
Before the event she said: “A lot of people would never have dreamed they’d even walk it [the mile] a month ago so it will be wonderful to see all the folk who can now run or jog it, or who can get around without puffing and panting as much as they would have done.”
More than 200 people have signed up for the 35-day streak with many more are taking part unofficially. They all pledged to do at least
15 minutes of exercise every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, typically a time when exercise schedules go out the window.
A traditional streak is running a mile every day, but the Shetland version encourages exercise of any kind meaning it is suitable for anyone and everyone.
This is the third year Mrs Geddes has organised it, following the example of the Runners World Festive Streak, and she has taken advantage of the growing popularity locally by selling T-shirts, raising over £400 for blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.
The Shetland Streakers Facebook page now has just shy of 700 members in it and people from all over the world have been taking part in the festive streak.
One member who has always encouraged others and posts regularly from his adopted home in Canada is Fraser Hunter. Mrs Geddes said everyone was excited as the Hunters are home in Shetland for Christmas so everyone was able to meet Mr Hunter in person at the final mile.
She said: “We have a lot of Shetlanders who post on the Facebook page from their new homes down south or further afield. It’s a good way to keep connected to home and of course they get detailed information on the weather as everyone is describing the hail showers and gale force winds they’ve been out running or walking in.”
Although the event has been a lot more work than she realised, Mrs Geddes said she has had a lot of people contacting her privately to say they have greatly benefited by taking part so it has been worth it.
“It’s a lovely friendly group with everyone supporting each other and offering advice. I’ve been posting a tip every day to try to keep interest and participation up, but we’ve had folk posting that they are struggling for motivation and other people soon comment with something that helps get them off the computer and into their trainers.
“There’s also been lots of laughs – my sister got peed on by a possum during her run in Australia, someone almost lost their shoe in a bog over the Staney Hill and we have had some very creative ways of reaching the exercise quota for the day. Things like walks to the pub, eightsome reels and Christmas card deliveries were just a few. People are embracing the fact that it can be any exercise and a little every day is better than a big chunk once every few weeks.”
Mrs Geddes said a lot of people had missed a day or more due to illness or just because it is such a busy time of year, but it doesn’t matter and doesn’t disqualify them from attending the last mile.
“I don’t want to take away from all the folk who have done so well and managed to exercise every day, but at the start everyone thought it was just about completing the whole 35 days – they’re now starting to realise the main point is actually to create a habit which can be kept up for life. Doing 35 consecutive days of exercise is brilliant, but doing something almost every day for the rest of your life is what will keep you healthy and happy.”
Warm mince pies and hot spiced apple juice were served after the final mile with donations to cover costs and for Anthony Nolan.