Set the Pace Challenge

By Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

2019 winner Odebolt rallies to restore community pool

The Odebolt Community Pool does not have fancy slides. There is no splash pad. But for former and current residents of the northwest Iowa town, the pool holds many childhood memories.

"It's the mainstay," said Ruth Ann Mohr, of Odebolt. "Yes, its an old pool, but you can come in. You can swim." 

However, the outdoor pool, built in the mid-1950s on the edge of town, has become costly to maintain in recent years.

City employees have taken extra measures to keep the aging pool open while community members raise funds to replace the filter system.

"This pool is not a moneymaker at all," said Todd Bengford, of Odebolt. "Basically it is a service to the community." 

Odebolt recently got a financial boost to help restore the pool for future generations: The community won the 2019 Set the Pace challenge and a $10,000 award from Wellmark to be used on a project that promotes safe and accessible places in which to be active. 

LEARN MORE:  Set the Pace challenge returns in 2020

The annual Set the Pace challenge encourages Iowans to take part in the Grand Blue Mile street run. The community with the highest percentage of its residents participating, measured by the number of registrants for a given ZIP code against the community’s total population, is declared the winner. Odebolt has a population of just under 1,000.

The effort to participate in the Grand Blue Mile was led by a local P.E. teacher and his students.


"With the 10,000 it has given the whole community a boost and I'm really proud of our grade school kids for what they've done for our community," said Mohr.

Odebolt has a city park with playground equipment and a half-mile memorial trail that cuts through town, but the pool provides another local opportunity for physical activity — one that community members are proud to maintain in their small town.

"Without the 10,000, we wouldn't be where were at today," said Bengford. "We may have not even been able to have the pool open. It was that close."