They worked out together and walked together on their lunch breaks. They leaned on each other when cravings for sushi, chocolate cake and pasta threatened to derail their diets.
They even listened for the telltale crinkly noise of junk food wrappers in each other's purses.
For these four nurses and about 1,400 other runners and walkers, this Saturday's Sound to Narrows will be more than a footrace.
The 40th running of the 12-kilometer Tacoma race will be the culmination of a 12-week, countywide weight-loss competition with a cash prize of $10,000 for the winning team. The runner-up gets $5,000 and the third-place team $3,000.
The four nurses from Puyallup's Good Samaritan Hospital already know how they'll spend the money if their team wins the Pierce County Matchup.
"We're going to need a new wardrobe because we've lost so much weight, " said Jeannie Koontz, whose team, "Thin it to Win it, " also includes her husband, Jeff.
Final weigh-ins are today and Wednesday at Pierce County YMCAs. Based on online self reporting, Dave Rottenberry of HealthyWage.com, the company overseeing the competition, estimates contestants will lose a total of about 15,000 pounds.
MultiCare has staged a weight-loss challenge in conjunction with the Sound to Narrows in recent years, called "The Biggest Winner." But it had room for only about 20 participants, said Claire Kjeld, a dietitian who organizes the competitions.
"That's not enough, " Kjeld said. "Here, we can really reach more of the community."
Participants paid $60 to enter the 12-week competition. And while only 15 of the 1,400 will win money Saturday, potentially every participant could receive a prize.
All participants who lose three body-mass index points after a year win a one-month YMCA membership and a "Center for Healthy Living Power Cooking" class. And all participants who started with a BMI above 30 and reduce the number to below 25 after a year get $100 from HealthyWage.com.
As of Monday, "Thin it to Win it" ranked third in the competition, having lost 15.73 percent of its combined body weight.
Koontz, a 34-year-old Lakewood resident who has lost 27 pounds, pitched the idea to the nurses in her office after learning of the competition in February. The contest started March 16.
Koontz said she liked the idea of winning money for losing weight, but she was even more interested in the early-June completion date: "So we'd get in shape just in time for summer."
Her fellow nurses - Jamie Bambrick, 36, of Puyallup; Nichelle Labarge, 41, of Lake Tapps; and Cheryl Scavotto, 43, of Puyallup - were equally excited. Koontz's husband, Jeff, a 40-year-old culinary student at Clover Park Technical College, rounded out the team.
The women kept each other motivated by writing goals on sticky notes and affixing them to their computer monitors.
"We kept each other honest, " Scavotto said.
Koontz lost 27 pounds and her husband dropped 40. Bambrick lost 30, Scavotto 35 and Labarge 18.
"It's been amazing that we can reach our goals in such a short amount of time, " Labarge said. "It's life changing."
"These girls are younger than me and were in better shape when we started, " Scavotto said. "They were a great support, and now I'm where I used to be a long time ago."
After the Sound to Narrows, there won't be a $10,000 check to keep them motivated, but they plan to continue together on their weight-loss journey.
"We've worked really hard, " Bambrick said. "But maintaining might be the hardest part."