Trail gives people another reason to come to Hannibal hospital

Bob Wathen, front right, leads a group of runners training for the Hannibal Cannibal around the new Healthy Way Fitness Trail at Hannibal Regional Hospital. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Jun. 20, 2014 10:22 am Updated: Jul. 4, 2014 11:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Wanting to get back into shape after having a child, Adrienne Long planned to start running again.

But Long, who lives in rural Hannibal, had no safe place to run.

Hannibal Regional Hospital has taken care of that.

The hospital recently completed work on its Healthy Way Trail, a 1-mile loop that weaves its way through the HRH campus just west of Hannibal.

"There isn't anywhere else in town that offers anything like this," said Long, 26.

Thanks to funding provided by Hannibal Regional Hospital Foundation, the trail took just two years to complete. More than $180,000 was raised to help build the trail during a yearlong campaign. Last year's Hannibal Cannibal, which is run by the HRH Foundation, helped with contributions to the trail's fund.

"The community just stepped up and said, ‘We want to help you do this,' " Wendy Harrington, CEO and president of the foundation, said.

The trail is marked every tenth of a mile and connects the hospital's main building with other buildings on the campus. Susan Wathen, the hospital's vice president of human resources, said building a trail at the hospital was natural.

"We wanted to offer an opportunity for wellness," she said. "One of the things that we noticed in health care is that health care providers are really good about taking care of others, but not real good about taking care of ourselves. Having something right here for team members was important. We had team members walking in the street. This was a good way to offer them a place to work out, walk and run without them having to be in the streets."

Harrington sees the trail as a way for the hospital to connect with the community.

"We want to let our community know that we want to be a resource in healthy lifestyles, not just when they show up in the ER with a heart attack," she said. "We want to help people be healthy and stay healthy. This trail is a perfect resource for that. A lot of people don't have a location to walk or run. This is a very safe environment, and it's close to the health care providers here on campus."

One group has already taken advantage of the trail. Members of the "Couch to Cannibal" group are using the Healthy Way Trail to get ready for the upcoming Hannibal Cannibal, held during National Tom Sawyer Days in downtown Hannibal. With some hilly terrain on the trail, it serves as a good place to tune up for the race, which features 5-, 10- and 15-kilometer distances on a course that includes Lover's Leap and other tough climbs.

Long is part of the ‘Couch to Cannibal' training group and plans to take advantage of the trail as often as possible.

"It's very helpful," she said. "I live out in the country, so we don't have any shoulders or anything to run on. Coming here gives me a place to run."