Five teams of aged care residents have walked 42 kilometres in just a week, well ahead of the 30-day time limit for the in-home marathon they are competing in.
The initiative to encourage residents to remain active from aged care allied health organisation Guide Healthcare involves teams of residents across Australia walking around a track in their aged care facilities to complete the Toyko Marathon.
Due to the early finishers, Guide Healthcare has expanded the competition to see how many marathons each team can complete in 30 days.
In the first three days of the event, Canberra-based team the Wanderers already completed the marathon, said Simon Kerrigan, managing director of Guide Healthcare.
“Across the board they’ve got about 40 participants but there are two in particular who have already done nearly 70km, which is ridiculous in just six days,” Mr Kerrigan told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Other teams who have already completed the marathon include Enduring Energetics, Bravehearts, Trail Blazers and G-RAM-Pies, Mr Kerrigan said.
The initiative, which aims to encourage residents to keep moving during the pandemic, currently has six aged care providers, 15 facilities and more than 400 residents participating, he said.
“With the current lockdowns, many if not all residents are feeling progressively isolated and normal activities are reduced. We wanted to create an initiative that would give residents the feeling that they are travelling to a new place or bringing the outside in whilst exercising,” Mr Kerrigan said.
“We also wanted to create something which made residents feel as if they were a part of something bigger than just what was happening within their four walls. We wanted to give them something positive to focus on. And we wanted to tap into the competitive drive which exists in just about all of us, regardless of age,” he said.
As residents travel through the marathon, they pass key distance milestones including the 5km, 10km and 20km marks as well as landmarks and related information, such as Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace.
“Residents can’t just record their normal walking efforts such as to and from meals. The only distances which are recorded are those completed when walking around the track,” Mr Kerrigan said.
Residents in wheelchairs are also getting involved.
“We’ve got some people who are actually doing it in electrical wheelchairs and some people who are in wheelchairs are getting pushed around by other residents, just to encourage people to get out of their rooms,” Mr Kerrigan said.
“We really want residents to feel like they’re a part of something,” he said.
Mr Kerrigan said residents’ laps are shown on a live scoreboard, where residents, families and staff can see how their team is travelling against their competitors.
He said the participation level from residents has been encouraging.
“We’ve already had some incredible efforts,” he said.
“We couldn’t be happier or more inspired by the efforts of our competitors so far.”
The top three teams will be awarded gold, silver and bronze medals respectively, and all participants will be awarded Tokyo Marathon Finisher medals. Individual prizes will be awarded to residents who complete the most metres, Mr Kerrigan said.
Providers interested in participating in the marathon can get involved by contacting email@example.com.
View the live scoreboard here.
Main image: A resident at the Tokyo Marathon finish line.