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Offer fun challenges that get people walking


In Williamson, teams of 10 from churches, businesses and organizations competed to see which team could walk the distance to Los Angeles first. “At first, we said Memphis, but the teams got there so fast, we made it LA!” said Vicki Hatfield, competition organizer. “We had a lot of fun with it.”

Try this: 

  •  Make it fun. In Jackson County’s Moovin and Groovin program, the walk mob invaded offices and kidnaps the staff for a 15-minute walk. “We tried to make it fun,” said Wendy Crawford, Jackson County health nurse. “We do a little bit of everything.”
  • Friendly competition: In Williamson, teams of ten competed for six weeks to see who could “Walk  to LA,” first. Teams came from businesses, offices, churches, schools, the hospital  and neighborhoods. “The friendly competition was great,” organizer Vicki Lynn Hatfield said. “And once it was over, a lot of people kept on walking. It lasted long enough for people to build a habit.”
  • Change it up. Every year in Morgantown, teams organize for the Hundred Miles in a Hundred Days competition. “We change the theme every year, so it’s never feels like you’re doing the same thing,” said former organizer Adam Flack.
  • Include kids: “When kids get involved, their parents get involved too,” said Shepherdstown organizer Mark Cucuzzella. Every time there’s an adult run, there are kids’ fun-runs too, sometimes in costume.
  • Keep it happening so people build a habit. Every month, Williamson’s running club and the Mingo Diabetes Association co-sponsor a community 5K. “When it’s every month, people do practice runs inbetween, so they can beat their own time,” said Alexis Batausa, 5K organizer. “Lots more people started running afer we started having 5Ks every month.”
  • Give people discounts.  The Jackson County Moovin’ and Groovin’ people created a card for members that gave them discounts at selected local stores.  They also arranged a day when members could come into the local shoe store and get discounts on running shoes.
  • Benefit the community. “We run events all year, and we donate a percentage of the proceeds of every event to charities,” said Sharon Marks, organizer for Parkersburg’s River City Runners and Walkers. “People like the feeling that their exercise is helping somebody.”
  • Find successful programs and visit them.  This Web site is full of examples.
  • Be persistant. The “hundred miles” program, created by WVU Wellness, has run for more than 20 years in Morgantown. More than 5,000 people now participate.  One-day events won’t help people establish a walking or running habit, organizer Adam Flack emphasized. “If you set it up so people walk over a period of weeks, there’s a much greater chance they’ll keep doing it after the challenge is over,” he said.


Looking for creative ways to draw people into walking? 


women with shirts

Walk 100 Miles in 100 Days participants proudly show off their newly earned commemorative T-Shirts.


  • Try the Walk 100 miles in 100 days challenge.  This is a 20-year-old trademarked program of the Wellness Program of WVU Hospitals, but they are glad to share. Each year, they adopt a different theme, so it’s different each year. Go to their site for lots of ideas. Want to adapt it for your area? Call (304) 293-2520.
  • The Mingo County Diabetes Coalition adapted the 100 Miles in 100 Days Challenge. They call it The Healthy Feud, a healthy revival of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud.
  • Here’s The Williamson “Lunchtime walk tool kit:” LunchWalk_ToolKit
  • WVU Extension organizes a Summer Steps walking challenge to all counties. County teams compete with pedometers all summer.
  • Try WVU Extension Service’s “Wild Wonderful Walking” packet. It gives you what you need to start a six-week walking program. It can be a stepping-stone to an ongoing program or an ongoing program can offer it.
  • Mall walking: If your mall has no organized mall walking program, try to start one. Usually, a local hospital runs them. A few examples:
  • Create historic walking tours: Fairmont’s MainStreet program created a wonderful historic walking tour with an online map, old photos and audio tour.
  • Add a charitable component:  River City Walkers and Runners (Parkersburg) gives part of the proceeds of every event to charity and raises money every year for running shoes for needy kids. “That’s a big part of why some people run,” said Sharon Marks, president. “They feel like they’re doing something for others while they get in shape.”
  • Try Geocaching: Geocaching is create adult scavenger hunting. It can be planned to include considerable walking! You can give geocaches themes!  Read about the Civil War geocaching course near Charleston, for instance. And check out this state parks page:
  • Winter walks:  In Parkersburg, the Online Physical Activity Magazine sponsored a series of well-attended family-friendly winter hikes in 2013.
  • The state park Web site, lists a wide variety of walks that will give you ideas. Offer the walks as a series, to help people build a habit.
    • Night walks: North Bend State Park
    • Full Moon walks: Cass
    • Fall foliage walks: Pipestem State Park, Canaan Valley Resort State Park
    • Astronomy night walks: Blackwater Falls State Park
    • Geology Walks: Pipestem State Park
    • Bird walks: Tygart Lake State Park
    • Longer hikes and camping hikes:
  • Create educational walks: Historic walks and environmental informational walks:
  • The nature signage on Laurel Fork Trail at Holly River State Park won a national award.
  • Here are instructions for creating a historical walking tour. If you search for “create a historic walking tour,” you can also find programs that help you create an app for your community.
  • How walkable is your community?  See the complete streets and walkability pages.

Related Try This pages: Complete streets policies, Build and connect trailsRunning and Walking clubs, Dancing, Hula hoops, Frisbees and other fun inexpensive stuff


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