Thunder Bay

ParticipACTION names Marathon as Ontario's most-active community, prize worth $20K

The Town of Marathon has been named Ontario's most-active community in a national contest to get Canadians moving more and sitting less.

Town on north shore of Lake Superior is regional winner in national active living challenge

Marathon, Ont., has been named the province's most-active community. (Shutterstock)

The Town of Marathon has been named Ontario's most-active community in a national contest to get Canadians moving more and sitting less.

The town of about 3,200 people, nestled on the north shore of Lake Superior, claims $20,000 as a regional winner in the 2019 ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge, which asked people to log their physical activity between May 31 and June 16.

"We were able to accumulate over 1.8 million activity minutes," said Michele Lajeunesse, community health promotion coordinator at the Marathon Family Health Team. "That's equivalent to 32,000 hours, and 1,300 days of physical activity."

"We did all that in 17 days."

Individuals and groups — including schools and workplaces — could participate in the contest. In a media release, Participaction noted a number of events, including Game Day, the Marathon Annual School Pow Wow, and the Children's Elementary School Road Race, all contributed to Marathon's total.

"I think it's a real celebration of the way in which Marathon, and Biigtigong First Nation, one of our neighbouring First Nation communities, have really embraced movement and physical activity as part of how they take care of their health," said Dr. Sarah Newbery, a family physician with the Marathon Family Health Team.

Lajeunesse said the challenge also helped promote the physical activity opportunities available in Marathon.

"These types of activities are available all-year long," she said. "We just hope that this challenge, and that this recognition, is going to encourage our community members to continue pursuing activity as part of improving their health."

Two years to spend prize money

Marathon now has one year to submit a proposal to ParticipACTION outlining how the money will be spent.  The prize money must be used within two years on projects that promote active living.

"Our goal is really just to try to do something that's going to have the most impact for the majority of our population," Lajeunesse said. "So, in the next couple of weeks, we really look forward to working with our community members, and our community partners, as well, just to make a decision on how we can spend this $20,000."