11:32 AM

Region Staffer Meets 'Walk to Mars' 4-Million-Step Goal

Chaplain, Lt. Col. Tim Miner
Virginia Wing

Only a week before the one-year challenge was initially set to run out, Lt. Col. Sarah Wildman of the North Central Region staff became the first participant to cross the imaginary 4-million-step finish line as part of Civil Air Patrol’s national “Walk to Mars” challenge.

At the 2019 National Conference, Col. Dale Newell, a member of the national Board of Governors, issued a challenge to all members of CAP to beat his step count during the next year. At that time he was recovering from a heart issue and totaling about 4 million steps a year via walking both outside and on inside treadmills.

That figure – which translates to about 1,890 miles – became the pace to beat during the next year

“While I enjoy walking, the challenge really made me up my game quite a bit,” Wildman said. “Once I started walking at that level, I realized that it was going to be a lot harder than I thought.”

The region assistant director of safety and professional pilot said she used a lot of hotel hallways and treadmills and made quite a few circuits around hotel parking lots during her professional travels en route to her 4 millionth step.

“As far behind as I was in late winter, I couldn’t quite bring myself to quit. I had to really push myself to keep moving and not give up,” Wildman said.

That perseverance paid off when she received an email saying she was the first to achieve Newell’s mark. With almost 2,000 campaign participants, she had a lot of competition.

“Well, looks like I will have to find a way to recognize her at the next meeting of the Board of Governors,” Newell said when told his challenge had been met. “That was a lot of walking!”

At the one-year point of the “Walk to Mars” activity, participants have covered about 1.4 million miles. While it was intended to last only 12 months, Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, national commander, extended the deadline for another 45 days to allow CAP members to sign up for the virtual U.S Air Force Marathon and include those distances in their totals.As a result, the program is collecting distances until the end of September.