A few hours after the Boston Marathon ended, a handful of Needham residents hit the track at for a course of their own.
Solo, paired up or with a group of friends, they counted each time they made their way around the track, with every lap getting them that much closer to their goal: to walk 300 laps — 75 miles — by the town’s big 300th birthday bash in November.
Ann Cosgrove had completed about 40 laps by Monday night, while friend Diane McGuire was at about 42 laps. Meanwhile, pal Eileen Dorsey had about 60 laps completed, while Celia Barrasso was just getting started.
“I just came out to get in shape and to be part of the 300th celebration,” Cosgrove said. “I’m on my way.”
Further down the track, Claire Franks and Eileen Reale had just gotten started and planned to walk eight laps — two miles — before heading home.
Franks said the walking also gave them plenty of time to socialize.
“We’ll be caught up on Monday nights,” she said.
Though the 300 laps challenge kicked off last fall, Monday was an opportunity to reintroduce the program to residents who might have been looking for an active way to spend marathon day.
Now that spring has arrived, Needham 300 is encouraging people to come out to DeFazio Park on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. to walk together toward the common goal of 300 laps, though the track is open other times and participants also can walk on their own at any location.
“People are kind of doing it anywhere and everywhere,” said Carol Stento, chairwoman of the sports committee for Needham 300.
To participate, residents of all ages can pick up a tracking form at the at 500 Dedham Ave. or at , then note the date they walked each lap, all the way to lap 300.
When the form is completed, residents can turn it back in at the office or fitness club and will be entered into a drawing to receive two tickets to the Needham 300 birthday gala in November. Deadline to turn in forms is Sept. 1.
Organized by Needham 300 and part of Healthy Needham — a town initiative to promote healthy living among all residents — the 300 laps challenge is designed to keep residents walking even after the town’s tercentennial year.
“We’ve been working on having people think about health not only during this year but have it be something that continues on past the holiday and the big celebration,” said Karen Peirce, who is involved with both Needham 300 and Healthy Needham. “We need to be healthier. We need to get out. We need to go to our parks and trails and get healthy.”
Though healthy living and birthday cake don’t seem to go together, for Needham 300 planners, the program was a natural fit.
“When we planned Needham 300, we wanted to make sure we covered every aspect — religious, schools, events, everything — and wellness was just a natural part of that,” said Valerie Herman, co-chairwoman of Needham 300.
The walking program is just one of many activities still coming up or- the tercentennial year. This Saturday, Needham 300 will sponsor a town-wide cleanup day, encouraging volunteers to meet at at 8:30 a.m. for coffee and doughnuts before heading out in groups to pick up targeted areas around Needham.
In May, the committee is planning “The Battle for Needham” at the — a Revolutionary War-era re-enactment weekend with two big mock battles (not based on actual events), a military encampment and a ball that night at the VFW.
“It’s going to be so fun,” Herman said. “We’re going to have horses and guns and battles — and they’re going to take prisoners. They’ll be camped out all weekend.”
Also on May 21, there will be a special bicycling event, with a historical presentation on bikes, a bike fair and an opportunity for families to ride their bikes around Needham, Stento said.
Then there will be in June, special activities during Fourth of July weekend and a town-wide neighborhood block party in September, all culminating in the big gala celebration in November — to take place at the newly renovated Town Hall.
“The gala is going to be our premier event at the end of the year on the eve of the actual tercentennial,” Herman said. “It’s going to be the rededication of the Town Hall, which is very exciting, with all the time and work put into putting the Great Hall back together. It’s going to be a time for so many people of Needham to get together — it’s always fun to go to a party and see everybody you know.”
Throughout the year, locals can purchase and wear a piece of Needham history by choosing from a variety of Needham 300 sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats and other items on sale at in Needham Center, according to marketing chairwoman Lorraine Murphy.
Though there is still much going on this year — and much work to be done — on Monday, Needham residents were taking it one lap at a time.
Grace Scott and daughter Deb, took advantage of a warm school vacation day to start their 300 laps, completing three turns around the track before calling it a night.
“She’s very active, so for her it won’t be a problem,” Scott said of her daughter. “For me, it will be a little more of a push.”
The 11-year-old also felt it wouldn’t be hard to reach the goal.
“It sounded like fun, and since it’s April vacation, I didn’t have much to do,” she said. “ I’m going to do more than 300 laps. I know it.”