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How is Walk to Tuk organized?

 March 11, 2019
Posted by NWT Recreation and Parks Association

The stats are in (4,800+ people!), the final celebrations are being organized, the t-shirts are sorted, and planning for 2020 has already begun.

During Walk to Tuk, we get lots of questions about how we organize the event, how much it costs, why the website keeps breaking down, and how we get so many people to participate in a winter walking challenge. So, we thought we should share a little description of how the NWT’s biggest physical activity event gets delivered every year.

Where to start? Well, planning for Walk to Tuk usually happens right after the end of the previous Walk to Tuk. We send out surveys to Walk to Tuk participants in March to learn about what people liked and what needs improvement. We then sit down together to go through those results and talk about what we’d like to change and make better for the next year. This can be a bit tricky as we are limited on budget and staff time, so a wish list gets created to keep track of things we’d like to do in the future if we find more funding.

During the summer before Walk to Tuk, we begin work on improving the website (yes, that actually happens) and revise our communications and marketing plans. We also begin talking to our sponsors and funders to see how we can best support each other (please check out this shout-out to our sponsors).

Suddenly, it’s November and we are quickly working to launch website updates, start promotion on social media, and invite past participants to join the challenge again. Then, we start Walk to Tuk all over again.

There are few key moments that happen during Walk to Tuk and the biggest must be the arrival of thousands of t-shirts that need to be sorted by size, team, and community. To do this, we rent out space at the local mall in Yellowknife. Every NWTRPA staff member and some lovely volunteers are recruited to spend lots of time sorting, packaging, and shipping t-shirts across the territory. We play lots of music, order in coffee and snacks, and laugh at team names.

Another key feature of Walk to Tuk is our website. You’ve probably noticed, but we have struggled with our website over the past few years. We have been hacked, our servers have crashed, and the programs that run our website have failed. The cause of all these website issues largely stems from the fact that we never envisioned that 5,000 people would be participating in Walk to Tuk and using our website.

Here are some quick facts about Walk to Tuk organization:

  • Our annual budget for Walk to Tuk is approximately $100,000.
  • The biggest expense is the t-shirts that cost $35,000 (and this cost is growing every year, with more people participating and choosing to receive the coveted t-shirt).
  • Sheena Tremblay, our Director of Active Communities, is the lead organizer for Walk to Tuk, but every NWTRPA staff member spends time helping Sheena out from December to March.
  • It takes staff and volunteers about a week to sort, package, and ship t-shirts.
  • Besides sorting t-shirts, staff spend lots of time writing content for our news posts (like this one), promoting participant stories on social media, answering  lots of emails and phone calls from participants, and trying to fix any website issues. In March, staff also spend time visiting NWT communities to give out t-shirts, celebrate Walk to Tuk, and learn more from community members.

“What’s next?” I hear you ask. Our wish list includes a new website and Walk to Tuk mobile app. We have started work to create a new Walk to Tuk website and hope to launch this for the 10th anniversary of Walk to Tuk in 2020. A mobile app is also being scoped out and we will be sure to keep you posted on any news. As always, please feel free to contact our office anytime if you have Walk to Tuk feedback and thank you for participating in Walk to Tuk!