The Mayor’s Walking Challenge helps Kevin England see his community and understand things he can do to make it more pedestrian friendly.

Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England enjoys walking with children during the Mayor’s Walking Challenge.

Idaho mayors who participate in the Mayor’s Walking Challenge earn $1,000 for their community by simply walking 10,000 steps per day in October.

ChubbuckMayor Kevin England puts his own spin on the daily step goal, trying to reach the required number of steps before many people get out of bed.

“I’m an early riser and always have been,” Mayor England says. “I get up about 4:30 in the morning, and I set a goal to have the 10,000 steps done before I got to work at 7:30. It’s a bit of a challenge, but I made it most of the time.”

The Mayor’s Walking Challenge is put on by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health through its High Five initiative, which promotes physical activity and access to healthy foods for Idaho children. This is the sixth year of the challenge, but the second as a true statewide competition. More than 70 mayors have registered for this year’s challenge, which runs from October 1-October 31.

“I’ve always loved competition,” Mayor England says. “But the second part of it is the camaraderie with those of us who serve as mayors in the state. It’s nice to have that interaction in October.”

Mayors have access to an interactive leaderboard and can see how they stack up to their peers. They can also post messages to the group and offer encouragement during the challenge.

Mayor England walked more than 1,000,000 steps last October, well over the 310,000 needed to earn the $1,000. While the money and competition were motivators, the challenge also gave him and his staff the opportunity to learn about their city.

“What extended from this experience was (city employees and I) literally walked every mile of the city sidewalk wise to determine what the challenges were,” he says. “That was really a good experience. The Mayor’s Walking Challenge opened my eyes to see that we had areas where walking is challenging.”

This year, England hopes to visit with more schools and classes to walk with the children and promote the importance of being physically active and get exercise. England, who is in his sixth year as Chubbuck’s mayor, is an avid hiker who also has started jogging again. In addition, working in his yard and on personal construction projects keep him moving.

He also will invite members of the community to walk with him, though he doesn’t expect many takers at his usual 4:30 a.m. start time.

“I do walk at other times, and I’ll probably encourage people to join me,” he said. “It’d be nice to have some community events.”