In a virtual world overrun with daring and exotic photos, it can feel like everyone is a sexy full-time adventurer, bagging peaks on the reg, and living out of their van– at least according to social media. Because we don’t often see the reality that exists alongside these grand adventures– a whole lotta emails, dirty dishes, and TPS reports– the mentality of go big or go home (and hide inside) is perpetuated. For a newbie, this world can seem daunting, but the 365 Mile Challenge is working to change that by encouraging participants to create realistic adventures. They are making the outdoors more approachable and proving that you don’t need to be mountain-hardcore from day one.
Many adventure-enthusiasts spend more time in front of a computer or wiping toddler bottoms than shreddin’ the gnar. As glamorous as it looks, few are able to quit a secure day job to spend every moment adventuring. The 365 Challenge realizes that anyone can make the outdoors a bigger part of their everyday life and will probably be a whole lot happier and healthier as a result.The idea for the 365 Challenge came about in a group chat between a handful of outdoor mom bloggers. They had begun to notice and hear from others in their community that the ‘outdoor lifestyle’ seemed too unattainable for many. In an effort to come up with a solution, they started imagining an approachable challenge that would have a broader appeal to a variety of users. They wanted to create something that would take a daunting task like…say…covering hundreds of miles and break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. And so the idea began to develop.
The founders, Alyssa Erickson, Amelia Mayer, Kathy Dalton, and Rebecca Walsh, wanted to keep it simple: 365 miles in 365 days. Their only requirement was that the miles had to be human-powered; participants could decide their own parameters from there. Maybe a newcomer sets out to walk a mile a day for a year. Maybe an experienced outdoor enthusiast only counts mileage during the workweek. Maybe someone opts to only count mileage covered with their kids in tow.
The founders wanted to give participants the autonomy to craft a challenge that best suited their personal needs. By allowing the challenge to evolve person-to-person, they hoped to demonstrate that ANY big task can be accomplished if you break it down into manageable chunks.
Co-Founder, Alyssa Erickson, shared that in the challenge Facebook group they have people from all walks of life with varying experience levels. There are participants who share stories of trekking in the Himalayas, moms trying to get moving post-baby, new retirees looking to fill their time, and even people nursing injuries looking for a way to meet their outdoor needs while taking it easy.
When I asked Alyssa what stories from participants she found the most inspiring, she said, “Of course there are the big, epic stories of international mountain climbing adventures, and those are cool. But the stories that impact me most are the ones about everyday people who who maybe had a bad day but still prioritize getting in their daily walk because they know it will make them feel better.”
Most of us could use a little more mini-adventure in our lives. We can’t all quit our jobs for the full-time dirtbag life, but we CAN make the most of the time that IS available to us.
365 MILE CHALLENGE
About: Commit to 365 human-powered miles in 365 days; you can choose to walk, run, cycle, snowshoe, cross-country ski– whatever works for you.
Who it’s for: Since there is a built-in component of ‘choose your own adventure’, this challenge is applicable to everyone. Because it breaks down a big goal into bite-sized pieces, it would be especially great for new outdoor enthusiasts.
Founders: Alyssa Erickson; Amelia Mayer; Kathy Dalton; Rebecca Walsh
Sabrina Carlson is on the AMI Board of Directors and is also the Youth Outreach and Education Coordinator with the Seeds of Stewardship Program of the Arizona Trail Association. She is a mama, writer, adventurer, outdoor educator, PPD warrior, fiercely passionate friend, self-care advocate, and deep lover of chocolate and bacon (occasionally together). Follow Sabrina’s adventures @mamawildnfree or read more of her writing at mamawildandfree.com.