St. Louis Park seniors inspire each other to walk 26.2 miles in 1 month

- A group of seniors in St. Louis Park, Minnesota found a way to be a part of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon last weekend – and cover 26.2 miles – with a little bit more manageable time limit.

Inside the Parkshore Senior Living Community, there is comfort. But, the workouts they provide are always just a bit out of the comfort zone.

Their challenge this fall was to walk 26.2 miles, the marathon distance, over the course of 33 days to celebrate the annual Twin Cities Marathon. 37 people finished it. Many others did at least five miles or more.

“I thought this was a neat idea. [It] gets you out, try to walk every day to some extent, gave a little more incentive to do it,” Paul Hedblom, a Parkshore resident, said.

Heidi Johnston, the director of wellness at Parkshore, says the goal of the marathon challenge each year is to keep them as healthy as they want to be.

Joanne Lowry has walked the marathon challenge the last three years.

“The first year here, I knew no one. It was a new experience,” Lowry said. “I looked back at my journals. The first year it was frightening. This year it was easy."

For Paul Hedblom, the marathon challenge is really nice connection to his past.

"I was a bio-chem teacher and I was a track coach and assistant for about 40 years.  I coached longer than I taught,” Hedblom said.

He was a track coach at Hopkins High School and a runner in his younger days himself. And, he remembers it well when he's out walking.

"Really you do, you remind yourself, good grief I can barely walk a mile, and I used to walk three to four times that in a workout, but life changes,” Hedblom said.

Hedblom is 85 and Joanne is 87. Both say the challenges keep them active and social.

"We're all in our 80's and 90's and it's just amazing the attitude people had, that ‘I’m going to do this’,” Hedblom said.

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