MANATEE -- It was a new day for many of the 184 who gathered Sunday morning at G.T. Bray Park for the Weight Watchers Walk-It 5K Challenge.
Typical was Melissa Taylor who was walking her first 5K event -- about 3.1 miles.
“I have never done an organized walk. I am kind of proud of myself,” said Taylor, who came down from Pasco County with two friends for the 5K.
Rebekah Encke of Bradenton lost 60 pounds and signed up her husband Jason and children Abigail and Jason for the walk, too.
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“I couldn’t have done this before,” Rebekah Encke said.
Walk-It Day is a nationwide program that encourages people to get active and walk a 5K.
“I am so proud of these women,” said Helen Dixon, a Weight Watchers member services specialist.
There was plenty of encouragement along the 5K route, much of which ran under G.T. Bray’s canopy of oaks.
Deb Pate of Holmes Beach smoked the course in 27 minutes and then came back to shout encouragement to others at the finish line: “Last curve, last curve, all the way through!”
Members of the Manatee High School cross country team volunteered to assist with running the course.
Cross country runner Riley Dunn was stationed at the one-mile mark.
“Great job, first mile done. It’s the hardest part,” Dunn said to walkers.
Kathy Peel, a paramedic with Manatee County Emergency Medical Services, turned out to support a healthy life style with plenty of high fives and cheering.
“Great job everybody. That’s right, move it, lose it,” Peel said.
Steve Litschauer, president of the Suncoast Striders Walking and Running Club, was impressed with the turnout.
“This is probably the first event of this kind many of these folks have ever done,” Litschauer said.
No doubt about that, agreed Palmetto pals Janet Ciancarelli and LouAnn Boucher.
“We needed it, we needed more exercise,” said Boucher.