If you’re looking for Jane Briggs after work or on weekends, you’ll often find her pedaling her bike on one of the Valley’s well-maintained trails, logging her miles for a Get Your Tail on the Trail (GYTOT) event.
St. Luke’s and the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) created this nationally recognized, free program that encourages people of all ages and abilities meet their personal fitness goals while enjoying the outdoors. To learn more or register, go to Get Your Tail on the Trail.
Briggs registered on-line for this year’s 165-mile Challenge and is well under way to completing it, despite being out of commission for a few months after having knee replacement surgery. Riding helps her control her weight and boost her cardio endurance and muscle strength as she covers the miles of beautiful well-kept paths near her Bethlehem home and her job at St. Luke’s Bethlehem Campus.
"Our goal (with Get Your Tail on the Trail) is straightforward: To get people outside and get them active," says Kathy Ramson, St. Luke's Network Director for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease. "We want people to be physically active because it is one of the best ways to prevent chronic disease.
This year, from May 1 to November 7, the GYTOT 165-Mile Challenge encourages participants to complete 165 miles of exercise--walking, hiking, running, biking or paddling-- on the trails or anywhere they choose.
“I love the trails, and I love Get Your Tail on the Trail,” says the 62-year-old coordinator of the School of Medicine curriculum. She enjoys the “SWAG” GYTOT participants earn for joining in events and reaching fitness goals.
Briggs is partial to biking the 6-mile round-trip stretch on the D&L between Bethlehem’s Sand Island and Freemansburg. “It’s flat and beautiful,” she says. She admits she’ll go to the gym or use her cycle trainer at home in bad weather, but she continues to ride at least three days a week.
And when she has finished a trip, Briggs always enters her mileage on the GYTOT app on her phone right after loading her two-wheeler onto her car and before heading home.
In addition to the yearly, 165-Mile Challenge, GYTOT offers special events, like bike and hike outings, history walks and more.
This year, the spunky cyclist is reaching beyond her past goals as she strives to double her mileage for the 165, inspired by her new knee and renewed zeal for fitness and Get Your Tail on the Trail.
Take it from Briggs, and these other GYTOT participants, that exercising in a natural setting gives a boost to the body and mind:
- Connie Kresge and Rick Laub let their dogs run on the verdant, local trails as they follow. This gives them time outdoors and helps them “disconnect from the world,” says Kresge. It’s their chance to “catch up,” while tuning into the magic of nature. “Woods and water, they’re where I unplug,” she explains.
- Biking on the D&L Trail has helped Shane Killeen shed loads of weight, down 140 pounds from 320 a few years ago. He calls GYTOT “fantastic,” praising it as friendly and non-judgmental. He blasted past the 165-Mile Challenge last year, pedaling 3,600 miles. GYTOT has helped him improve his eating, too, Kileen shares, “so I can be better at riding” on the trail.
- John Picariello says he found GYTOT after being diagnosed with bladder cancer. He walks several days a week, which “gets my mind off the (cancer) treatments and mortality.” The trail-based exercise also lets him practice his photography, as he snaps away to record the changing of the seasons. GYTOT has “opened up a whole new window for me,” Picariello says.
- Distance running on the D&L trail near the Lehigh Gorge keeps Lacey Timothy in shape for military duty. It’s also a welcome diversion from her daily grind of computer work, schedules and deadlines. The 165-Mile Challenge “kept me accountable” and “pushes you to make that first step” of the run, she says. She loves the mountains that rise above the Lehigh River, which she calls “beautiful and picturesque.” After a run, Timothy adds, she feels motivated and creative, able to return to work with “a fresh mind.”
Try it for yourself by registering for the program and the 165-Mile Challenge. Go to Get Your Tail on the Trail.