Marge Trautman

Marge Trautmann, 86, on her favorite walking path.

Health trends are constantly ebbing and flowing. 

One fitness routine that has never gone out of style and is seeing an uptick in participation is recreational walking. With the increasing popularity of fitness-tracking applications and technology, it has never been easier to set and track daily physical activity goals. 

Still, it is quite incredible that Marge Trautmann, an 86-year-old Hastings resident, has walked over 10,000 steps over the last 1,114 days … and counting. 

In the summer of 2019, Marge stumbled upon an article in a health magazine that was touting the benefits of consistent recreational walking. Intrigued by the fitness proposition, Marge wanted to find a way to keep track of her progress. That is when her family stepped in to support her.

“Everybody went in on an Apple Watch for her, and she decided to make it a competition within our family, and we’re a very competitive family, so I told her try to get 10,000 steps a day,” Marge’s granddaughter Jenelle Trautmann said.

Armed with an Apple Watch and a burning desire to meet her daily step quota, Marge started hitting the trails. It only took one successful day for her to become irreversibly hooked.

“I thought, gee, I did it one day, let's see if I can do it two days, and now it has been 1,100 days,” Marge said.

Be it the Hastings Golf Club, Vermillion Falls, the disc golf course at C.P. Adams Park, cemeteries, or the riverwalk, Marge has traversed much of the downtown Hastings area on her routes. On her walks, she loves listening to the tweeting of the birds, interacting with passersby and, if the season is right, snagging a blackberry from a bush alongside her favorite trail.

When it is unbearably hot or cold, or there is inclement weather of any kind, Marge resorts to spacious business facilities in town in order to get her steps in.

“I walk at Walmart, I walk at Cub, I walk at Coborn's, I walk at Menards, I walk at Hy-Vee. All of those places where there is lots of room,” Marge said. 

Marge loves to challenge herself. Her goal is 10,000 steps, but she said that she has exceeded 11,000 every day since last Christmas. Her devotion to her walking is so great, that when she heads to one of those large stores to get steps in, she sometimes forgoes her handicap parking. 

“I do have a handicap sticker, but I don’t always use the handicap spot because I leave that for people that need it, and I walk from the end of the parking lot to the store,” Marge said.

Despite the hundreds of miles that separate them, Jenelle has been a source of motivation and encouragement for Marge during her journey.

Jenelle is one of seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Marge has lived by herself since her husband died 24 years ago.

Jenelle, the granddaughter, is 30 years old and lives in Texas where she helps coach softball at West Texas A&M. During her childhood, Jenelle spent lots of time with Marge, who was an active supporter in her life. She fondly remembers Marge, bearing homemade turkey sandwiches and chips and salsa, picking her up for gymnastics practices in high school. 

“In the summertime, we were with each other 24/7. We did a lot of stuff together,” Jenelle said. 

Now, a role reversal has taken place, and Jenelle acts as Marge’s cheerleader.

“She always says that if I’m looking ahead and say should I turn here, or should I go to the next block, she’ll say, ‘You can do it grandma!’ And that’s in the back of my mind you know, I can do it,” Marge said.

It was Jenelle’s idea to set the benchmark at 10,000 steps, and she carries that daily goal for herself as well. The two of them regularly check up on each other’s progress over the phone, with competitive vigor of course. Jenelle makes sure to get in her 10,000, but who usually records more steps?

“Of course she does!” Jenelle said. 

Jenelle is continually amazed at the determination of her grandma to keep pace with the goal they set together. Not many 80-year olds are capable of walking everyday, much less 10,000 steps everyday. Jenelle doesn’t see her grandma missing that mark anytime soon, and neither does Marge.

“As long as I’m able, I’m going to try. I’d hate to break that spell now,” Marge said.

Outside of Jenelle’s encouragement and the fear of ruining her immaculate streak, Marge has another key incentive that drives her. After Marge hits 10,000 steps in a day, she awards herself with a bowl of ice cream. Her go-to dish is vanilla with some chocolate sauce and chopped raspberries, but sometimes she goes with buttered pecan ice cream.

“You can imagine how many scoops of ice cream I have eaten,” Marge said.

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