UND scientist encourages healthy, planet-friendly behavior with third EarthCycle competition

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News Article

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College of Engineering & Mines


There’s still time to register for this year’s month-long contest

Still rolling strong in its third year, EarthCycle—sounds a lot like bicycle—is a lively team-based competition that runs the whole month of September.

“We’re trying to encourage environmentally friendly and healthy behavior—ride a bike instead of drive to work for a month,” said Jaakko Putkonen , a geomorphologist and director of the University of North Dakota Harold Hamm School of Geology & Geological Engineering .

Putkonen launched EarthCycle three years ago and hopes to keep building the event’s scope and reach.

For example, this year, he and Kim Ruliffson , coordinator of UND’s Work Well effort, part of the UND Health & Wellness Unit , reached out beyond the UND community.

“Through Kim, who knows people all around the Grand Cities, we reached out, and there’s already a team coming together from the City of Grand Forks and another team from Altru Health System,” Putkonen said. He’s looking to top last year’s competition that enrolled 14 teams from several UND departments comprising about 60 people.

Though EarthCycle is a month-long event, many participants ride year round, according to Putkonen.

“They’re the hardy ones,” Putkonen said.

EarthCycle is about doing something cool while engaging in something that makes you feel good.

“When I ride my bicycle to work in the mornings, I feel energized,” said Putkonen, an experienced and fit field scientist who’s done several expeditions in Antarctica, the Arctic, the Himalayas and other frigid zones. “Sometimes I drive a car because I have to transport a bulky object, but those days, I’m kind of lethargic—but when I ride the next day, I feel so much better."

Official Earth-Cycle rules:

During this month-long cities-wide bicycle challenge, you can:

--Form your own team.

--Register at a web site and compete against other teams at your own worksite and other teams elsewhere in town.

--Register at the event website, track your trips there, and see how other teams are doing.