JOHN DAY – Starting Friday, folks might notice more people out walking, running and bicycling.

Springtime in the air? Longer daylight hours? Maybe.

It could also be those Eagle Challenge participants out and about again as the 2012 health competition kicks off.

The fourth Challenge, organized by the Blue Mountain Eagle, starts this Friday, March 9, with initial weigh-ins and assessments at the Grant County Regional Airport.

Facilitating this year’s Challenge are Dr. David Hall and Family Nurse Practitioner Shawna Clark. Dr. Hall was on board for last year’s event; Clark is new to the medical professional team. They will monitor each participant’s progress in checks scheduled throughout the six-month Challenge.

Each team is again comprised of eight people, all willing to be interviewed, photographed and monitored by the Eagle and medial staff, as they strive toward their personal and team goals.

Teams will report their total team weight to the Eagle office every Monday morning; with the group tallies to be printed in that week’s Eagle issue. A different team will also be highlighted in the Eagle each week.

Four monthly assessments, all at the airport, will be April 13, May 11, June 8 and July 20. The final weigh-in and assessment will be Aug. 17. All the dates are Fridays.

New this year is a penalty for no-shows. For every participant who misses a monthly weigh-in, that team will receive a penalty pound.

“The penalty pounds are set up, hopefully, to make more of an incentive to participate in every monthly assessment,” said Eagle publisher Marissa Williams.

“Penalty pounds will be added to your team’s final points at the end of the Challenge,” Williams said, adding, “These are not good points.”

Participants are reminded, however, that weight loss is only one objective of the Eagle Challenge. Overall health successes, such as lowered blood pressure or inches lost, and lifestyle changes, such as decreasing heart risk or being able to run a 5K, are factors just as vital.

Blogging on the Eagle website is also an important part of the Eagle Challenge experience. Each person is responsible for at least one journal entry – such as a supportive message or sharing a healthy recipe – each month.

Teammates are encouraged to motivate each other, and are accountable to one another for their team’s success.

The grand prize for the winning team comes from the entry fees – $200 per team or $25 a person. The money, minus $400 for rental of the airport space, is banked until the Challenge’s conclusion.

There’s still time and space for teams and individuals to sign up; call the Eagle office at 541-575-0710 to join in the camaraderie and competition.

To follow the Eagle Challenge and participants’ monthly blogs go to myeaglenews.com/eaglechallenge.

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