Sunday, June 25, 2017 This Week's Paper

Local fitness buffs prepare for Pierce County Matchup weight loss challenge

This is part two of writer David B. Hardt's report on his and his team's involvement in the Pierce County Matchup weight loss challenge, which kicks off March 16.

One of the core principles of any team's success is that every team member must know his or her distinct role and responsibility. While preparing for the Pierce County Matchup, Mike McCormick and I spent time going over our 5K Freaks running team roster. We quickly began to evaluate who would be good candidates for the team competition. Since the group averages between 6:55-9:30 pace per mile, choosing the best candidates was a far more difficult task than we expected, and deliberations went on for a week.

Ultimately, what it came down to was work ethic, discipline, and a deeper desire for healthy living. I always remind Mike that not all runners are equal, and just because one runs fast by no means does that represent discipline or sacrifice. A great percentage of runners just have God-given talent and have little or no desire to push the envelope. I witnessed this on my college cross-country team, and ever since then I have worked hard to teach others to always push harder and longer, to tap into that part of themselves that they never knew was there.

With the names on the table, we sent out our invitations to join the Pierce County Matchup weight loss team.

To get things started on March 4, the team headed out to Eatonville for some uninterrupted training. It is difficult to train in the city, especially if you're trying to get momentum, as there are several intersections, traffic lights and a lot of traffic to battle through. Eatonville makes for some great running and beautiful sights along the way. The goal of the day was to complete a simple 10k (6.2 miles). Given that the 5k Freaks had been training for a while, we didn't expect it to be too difficult. The goal was to run it in 68 minutes, but everyone managed to come in under 58 minutes. The sun overhead was just the boost we needed for a perfect run, and the start to the challenge was on.

Even though the first weigh-in isn't until March 16, everyone knows that adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential, regardless of the contest. Adding depth to our training and helping with speed work is upcoming community runner Ramon Wood, 26. A 10k winner himself, Wood is familiar with the hard work and discipline required to cross the finish line first. We know that being surrounded by motivated, hardworking winners will be another key to our success, and Wood is very encouraging. "I was a runner when I was younger, and now I am getting back into it. Being involved with the 5k Freaks training team is just what I need. I am here to help the other runners improve, as well as to help them in their goal of losing weight. This group is all about training, becoming the best we can be, and I intend to help everyone do so," Wood said.

So…let the contest begin!

South Puget Sound 5k Freaks

Here's what these contestants have to say about jumping into the Pierce County Matchup:

Demetria Dejesus, 46
Current Weight: 169 pounds
Height: 5'3"
Goal Weight: 154 pounds

"I am currently in the military but am getting ready to retire soon. I am really excited to join this program and really motivated to lose weight and continue living a healthy life. My goal during the 12 weeks is to drop at least 15 pounds or more. I know doing that will really help my run time. Serving in the military is all about discipline and completing the mission, and to me this is just that-a mission."

Cheryl Hasson, 39
Current Weight: 147 pounds
Height: 5'6"
Goal Weight: 127 pounds

"What I really want to get out of the contest is to get in great shape and drop 20 pounds. This will help me have more confidence in myself. Having a team here to help me and encourage me along the way will be great. I am excited to see how we all do, and I also can't wait to improve my running times."

Justeen Allen, 24
Current Weight: 147 pounds
Height: 5'6"
Goal Weight: 130 pounds

"I am excited to be a part of this team and this contest. I intend to lose 10 to 15 pounds during the three months. Just training with the team, I know there will be a lot of motivation from everyone, including myself."

Mike McCormick, 20
Current Weight: 198 pounds
Height: 6'3"
Goal Weight: 185 pounds

"My goal for this contest is to really trim down and get my race times down. I am rather new to running, but I know that excess weight can really slow you down."

Dave Hardt, 36, Founder of the South Puget Sound 5k Freaks
Current Weight: 218 pounds
Height: 6'2"
Goal Weight: 183 pounds

"The main goal I have been working toward is to get down to 183 pounds and to run a really fast 5k. But more importantly, I want to lead the 5k Freaks in the city of Tacoma to excellence in overall fitness."