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The award that keeps on giving Missouri’s Best Trails State Award in 2013 helped get Missourians moving

By Terry Whaley, Executive Director, Ozark Greenways, Inc.

State Park Director Bill Bryan accepted the award for Missouri. I thought, that was cool, probably a press release and by the end of the week it will all be history. And then much to the delight of trail advocates, park


 Missouri outdoors, a few people saw beyond the award and capitalized on its potential to give back to Missourians. Right   about the Governor here— comes the 2013 100 Missouri Miles Challenge! A kind of throw down for citizens of Missouri to get healthy, get outdoors, visit your state parks, and take a hike on a trail. “We wanted to take an award we won and test the energy of our state…” said Governor Nixon.

The goal of the chal- lenge was for Missourians to collectively log one million miles by the end of the year. Quite the challenge since we really did not get started   but any activity on any local trail in Missouri would count. In the Governor’s words, “It has to be fun— everybody in the state should have the opportunity to try it, and get a little healthier.”

So an outcome of the American Trails Best Trails State

Award was the Governor’s 100 Missouri Miles Challenge.  top, 12,960 Missourians logged 1,176,525 miles. However as we move into 2015 the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge to date has had 23,000 people logging three million miles of trail- related physical activity! This year, the Governor and First Lady are promoting Missouri’s water resources by encouraging Missourians to log 100 “blue” miles on the state’s many lakes, rivers, and streams. So Missourians are getting their shoes, bikes, canoes, and saddles ready. A hundred miles may sound daunting, but if you break it down by the day anyone can achieve it.

6 SPRING 2015

e’re pretty proud that Missouri was awarded the Best Trails State Award by American Trails in April 2013. I was in Arizona at the International Trails Symposium when our

 - pants in the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge logged enough combined mileage to travel between St. Louis and Kansas City 4,715 times! Want another one? How about to travel around the Earth 47 times! One more— we did enough miles to make four trips from the Earth to the Moon! The Show Me State? We’ll show you! I like fun awards that motivate you to think about what might take place if you’re not really thinking about awards. So, back to the question: what’s an award worth? Well, if 12,960 Missourians participating changed or

improved their health, and moved toward more active life- styles because of the 100 Miles Challenge, we may have reduced their or their employers’ health care cost by as much as 20-55% per participant. Healthier people cost less to insure.

The CDC reports that 75% of employee health care costs and productivity losses are related to employee lifestyle choices. The message is: “healthier lifestyles, better employees, better productivity, better economy for Missouri!” And how about those

Governor Jay Nixon announcing his 100 Missouri Miles Challenge

- ysis out of Lincoln, Nebraska a few years ago cited that every dollar invested in trails for physical activity led to $2.94 in 

the general economy in Missouri, every dollar spent on out-  Dollar for dollar, trails are the least expensive public recre- ation facility to develop, and they can serve the greatest num- ber of users at one time. An award can be representative of the end of the trail— or it can be just the beginning and a launching pad for greater achievements. I recall that when I received my Eagle Scout award 40 years ago, I was handed a card from a local resident of the community and she said, “This award is not for what you’ve done but for what we expect you to do.” Let’s make this year’s Symposium awards the launch pad for greater trail achievements in our communities. In Missouri we make it fun, get healthy, visit many dif-

ferent trails around the state, and have some friendly competition. Thanks for the award, American Trails!

For a view of how the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge works, visit

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