EastIdahoNews.com file photo

POCATELLO — The Portneuf Health Trust has challenged local executives to hike Mount Borah.

Virtually, of course.

A trail that measures out to 142 miles breaks down to about 30 days of logging 10,000 steps per day, an activity marker set by the American Heart Association and Center for Disease Control and Prevention as a healthy daily goal.

With the weather warming up and the COVID pandemic that kept so many stagnated in their homes beginning to lose its grasp on American life, Portneuf Health Trust was looking for a way to encourage its community to get back to a healthier lifestyle.

Micaela Knickerbocker, the trust’s Wellness Coordinator, said hospital leadership arrived at the Executive Challenge idea after a brief brainstorming session with CEO Shaun Manchaca. It’s something the trust has done successfully in the past.

“We thought: let’s get the leaders of the community and get them to be the first ones to get out there and set the example for the community,” Knickerbocker told EastIdahoNews.com

Mayor Brian Blad, one of the 12 members making up the competition’s field, was happy to accept the challenge, both in logging 142 miles in a month and leading his community to a healthier lifestyle.

“This is a great idea, and I think it’s a great opportunity to get out and get walking, and get involved with the community,” he said. “We’ve had a year off of doing about everything you can think of, it’s time to start getting going again.”

The field:

  • Jordan Herget, Portneuf Medeical Center CEO
  • Matt Hunter, Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce President and CEO
  • Brian Blad, Pocatello Mayor
  • Kent Oram, Idaho Central Credit Union CEO
  • Mindy Benedetti, Health West Inc. CEO
  • Todd Argall, Farm Bureau CEO
  • Roger Schei, Pocatello Police Department Chief of Police
  • Shaun Menchaca, Portneuf Health Trust CEO
  • Kevin Saterlee, Idaho State University President
  • Pauline Thiros, ISU Athletics Director
  • Kevin Bailey, United Way CEO
  • MiaCate Kennedy I, Bannock Development Corporation CEO

All participants will use their own step-tracking device — like Fitbits and Apple Watches. Steps will automatically be uploaded through MoveSpring, a fitness tracking app used regularly by the Portneuf Health Trust.

One feature available within the app that Knickerbocker is excited about for this particular challenge is a messaging function, something she expects to include some friendly trash talk shared between competitors.

Knickerbocker listed a few names she knew would be taking the competition seriously. Menchaca, she said, is so active he schedules his one-on-one meetings as walks around the block, and Hunter exercises both before and after work. But Schei, she added, will up his already active lifestyle in hopes of reaching the 142-mile mark in just two weeks.

While Blad admitted to EastIdhoNews.com that this event is more about activity than competition for him, Thiros said she wants nothing less than to finish with the greatest number of miles logged. Despite having two separate trips scheduled for the month as part of her duties on the NCAA National Volleyball Committee, the uber-competitive Thiros said she will use any free time to get her steps in, even if that means running up and down the hallways or stairwells of her hotel.

“I’m the terrible backyard family game player that nobody wants to be around, because when I get involved in these things I always want to win,” she told EastIdahoNews.com. “I’m going to be in a weird environment getting all these steps in, but I will be surrounded by coaches and student-athletes and competition, so I think it will get my juices going.”

Along with the promotion of daily activity, the Portneuf Health Trust has turned this competition into an opportunity for its executives to offer aid. For each competitor who successfully logs 142 miles, Knickerbocker said, the trust will donate $1,000, in that competitor’s name, to the ISU Residency Clinic. And the winner will receive a prize — although that prize has not yet been established.

As for how difficult it will be, Knickerbocker admitted that, even for someone like her who leads an active lifestyle, 10,000 steps every day for a month can be taxing.

Blad plans on maintaining his normal routine, walking his dogs and taking trips, both personal and professional, around the community.

For Thiros, who normally works out in the morning before going to campus, winning will require her to do a little extra.

“I’ll definitely be sandbagging, get some extra evening workouts in there,” she said laughing.

The progress, including pictures and videos of the executives involved, will be tracked and updated on the Portneuf Health Trust’s Facebook page, where those interested can also find other competitions in which they can enter.

That is, after all, one of the goals of the Executive Challenge: to get the community involved in a healthier lifestyle.

Thiros, who said she was so excited for the opportunity she may have been the first person to respond to the invite to take part, said she is “all in.”

“It sounds like a lot of fun, and I think it’s always great to promote and model good healthy habits whenever we can,” she said.

“Let’s be active,” Blad said when asked what his message is for Idahoans. “Get actively involved in different things as much as you possibly can. … Get outside, get some fresh air, and be active.”