Aztec Adventures encourages student wellness with virtual hiking competition


Getty Images

The virutal hiking competition will allow students to win prizes such as a $50 gift card of their choice from an approved list.

by Kayla Brown, Staff Writer

With COVID-19 keeping students cooped up inside, there is a significant need to get outdoors. San Diego State’s Aztec Adventures is hosting a second month-long virtual hiking competition for March.

According to the Associated Students website, each mile hiked will earn participants one entry into a drawing for the chance to win a $50 gift card of their choice from an approved list. There will also be a ”best view” photo contest at the end of the challenge for another chance to win.

Katie Hecker, an outdoor programs supervisor with Aztec Recreation, said the program is in response to the COVID-19 restrictions and designed for students of all skill levels. 

“Instead of making it super competitive, we really just wanted students to have the chance to be motivated to go outside and experience the benefits,” she said.

To sign up, students will fill out a registration form, sign a waiver, then receive an email with all of the necessary resources such as apps to use, safety information, and forms for submitting hiking logs and photos. Hikes will be logged onto fitness apps.

Business management junior Kole Wellenstein is participating in the challenge and plans to hike 20 miles over the course of the month. He hopes to win a gift card from the outdoor sporting goods store REI. 

“I really admire the fact that the challenge is open to all students, regardless of where they’re located, and that it also encourages students to engage in outdoor activities while still being COVID safe,” he wrote in an email interview.

Hecker said participants should follow the hashtag #recreateresponsibly and to go to their website for information on how to stay safe in the time of COVID-19.

Child development sophomore Ennie Marie Ilasco is on the Associated Students Recreation and Wellness Commission and plans on participating in the challenge.

Although she is usually busy and doesn’t hike as much as she would like to, she plans to log 10-15 miles.

“I have asthma, so hiking gets pretty difficult even without the pandemic keeping me indoors and less active on a daily basis,” she said in an email interview. “That being said, no goal is too small! Literally and emotionally, take it one step at a time.” 

Hecker said students are not limited to major hiking trails, they can go to their local city park or Balboa park, the idea is to get outside. 

“Keep your personal safety in mind but please go out there and enjoy the trail,” she said.

Virtual information sessions will take place every other Monday from 12-12:30 p.m. The next session is on March 15.