Feb 19, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Tia Vierling | Photo by Anil Jergens

I laced up my skates in Honnen Ice Arena, pulling as hard as I could to make sure they stayed tight. It was my first time at the arena in a little over a year; I was nervous about falling as I stepped onto the ice, but my fear soon abated as I began to skate carefully in loops around the rink.

On Feb. 1, 2021, Colorado College’s very own “2021 POD Racing Challenge” began. With a playful nod to the 10-person “pods” the college has asked students to group into, the challenge also calls to mind orca pods. Co-sponsored by Outdoor Education, Campus Recreation, Campus Activities, and Athletics, the challenge invites students to participate with a statement that fits the theme.

“Orca pods cover 2,021 miles in two months” the official challenge poster announces. “Can your pod do it by May?”

My pod would certainly like to try. At the behest of one of my friends, my friend group and I signed up; we began to log our miles on the first Monday of Block 5. With a variety of ways to rack up miles for the challenge, including adjusted mile counts for difficult-to-track activities – one pitch while rock climbing counts for one mile, as do 100 flights of stairs – more than 30 teams have already registered.

Numbered among them are “They Can’t Cancel Walking,” “The Pod Cast,” and “Oooo-eee-a.” As of Feb. 10 at 11 a.m., team “This is FLAMING DRAGON” held the lead in the competition, with 391.31 miles logged collectively.

I’m unsure if I would have been tempted to skate at all were it not for the fact that I was trying to expand the range of activities I was engaged in for the challenge (and add a few extra miles to my team’s score, to boot). Over the past few weeks, I’ve found that I’ve pushed myself to go just a little further in the name of the challenge: to swim, hike, bike, run, skate, climb stairs, or even just go for a walk when the opportunity arises.

Similarly, the request of those running the challenge that miles be logged by each individual has gotten me to think deeper about how I view my own active life. As I am asked to jot down a note for each instance in which I log miles, I realize how often I let the details of my adventures slip out of my mind. How long before I forget the exact path I walked around campus last Monday? How easy is it to forget what it was like to skate when it was colder outside than in the arena?

While I don’t know if this effect of the challenge was intentional, I’ve been encouraged to pay more attention to the ways in which I engage with the world, if only so I can record them more accurately later. And regardless of my personal experience, the challenge – which is still open to participants – provides an extra incentive for me to keep staying active. I can’t wait to see where my pod will end up.

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