I sat more and moved less this winter than just about any other time in my life. A hefty work load, learning to be a parent, and an endless plague of family colds meant way less time outside. I joked repeatedly (only half joking) that I was getting fat from not riding my fat bike. By the time the mountain of snow in our yard finally melted, I realized that not having any big adventures on the horizon may have also played a role in my fitness decline. Regularly-scheduled death-march backpacking trips, epic mountain bike rides, and long ski tour slogs have always forced me to stay in good enough shape to survive and usually enjoy such trips. Without any challenges on the calendar, it was easy to let excuses like work or chronic sniffles stifle my already limited wintertime drive to get out and go on a regular basis.

Last year Out There Monthly created a new program called the Team OTM Challenge for people like me. It’s a way to motivate us all to get and stay in better shape by engaging more people with many of the awesome races, fun runs, bike rides and multi-sport events our region has to offer. We came up with the idea two years ago after I experienced first-hand the motivational power of signing up for an event. It was my first-ever relay race, the Spokane to Sandpoint Relay. S2S, as it’s known, is a 200-mile, overnight running relay that starts on Mount Spokane before winding through Riverside State Park, along the Centennial Trail into Coeur d’Alene, and then north on country roads to the finish at Sandpoint City Beach. On top of being the most fun race I’ve ever done, committing to that run as part of a 12-person team forced me to take running more seriously than ever that summer (which isn’t saying a whole lot). Making a commitment to yourself or other teammates. Shelling out a few bucks for race or ride registration. Putting dates on the calendar. These things serve as fun, motivating ways to stay fit enough for all other adventures, outdoor passions and every day life.

If your spring and summer calendar is short on challenging and motivating activities, check out the Team OTM Challenge. You can sign up by yourself or in a team of up to five friends and do at least one of the program’s featured events each month for six months (May-October). You also get discounts on as many of those races and events you want to sign up for, a kick-off party, t-shirt, and quality swag bag. Once you sign up, you’ll have at least one 5k fun run, non-competitive bike ride, challenging trail run, or fun triathlon or multisport event ready and waiting on your calendar each month all summer and fall long. Learn more and sign up at Outtheremonthly.com/team-otm-challenge. //