Running on Water
The flagship's 100-mile club
Every day while underway, Sailors fight for space in small compartments. But one has been even more crowded as of late. Clinking weights mix with the steady thud of shoes as Sailors struggle to find a vacant machine in the ship's small gym.
Runners breathe heavily as they step off the treadmills, but within seconds, fresh legs are back on the same worn tracks, pounding mileage and additional layers of sweat into the tread.
Sailors aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge find their way to the gym for multiple reasons. Some find sanctuary among the grimy weights and musty smell, where they are able to let off some steam in a healthy way. Other crew members drag their lightly-worn shoes down the ladderwell, just trying to meet the Navy-mandated physical training requirements. However, many Sailors are making their way to the gym or topside to take on the 100 Mile Club challenge.
"The 100 mile club is a way to motivate people to get to the gym and workout while underway," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer Thai, one of the 100 Mile Club coordinators. "Underway, you're stuck at your desk or workstation all day but this program drives people to get out of their chairs and be active, even if it's just running a mile a day."
For the second consecutive year, the 100 Mile Club is open to anyone on the underway patrol and will run from April to September. The challenge entails running at least 100 miles by way of the elliptical, treadmill or on the main deck while underway.
"I participated in the 100 Mile Club last year because I wanted to get better at running," said, a 100 Mile Club participant.
"It was a huge challenge for me initially," said Cryptologic Technician Technical 2nd Class Danielle Beliveau. "Running really isn't my thing, but the more hours I logged, the faster I became. It motivated me to go everyday, rather than just thinking up excuses. The 100 mile club is my accountability, and I'm excited to see what I can achieve."
This year, program coordinators lengthened the duration of the 100 Mile Club from one month to about six months. Easing up on the time requirements allows Sailors with busier schedules to participate. Additionally, having the challenge extended over such a long period of time encourages divisional involvement.
"In this year's 100 Mile Club competition, my chief is challenging the division to beat him," said Beliveau. "He's incentivizing us to get out there and show some motivation. Half of my division is super into fitness, and the other half isn't. For the people who aren't into fitness, this is a great step in the right direction. It gets them motivated to try something and then, hopefully, sustain it even after the challenge ends."
Last year, the program had around 150 participants, but this year the program coordinators are hoping that more people get involved and active.
"Personally, if I could get anybody, even one person, to become a little more fit or run one more mile a day than they used to, then that's something to be proud of," said Thai. "And, in my mind, the program succeeded."