How To Organize Your Cross Country Ski Poker Run

FasterSkierMarch 26, 2022

The health benefits of cross-country skiing are no mystery to anyone who has spent any amount of time on the trails. It works nearly every muscle group and requires fantastic mental focus and endurance to compete in, though anyone, from beginners to Olympians, can get healthy and fit by taking up cross-country skiing. However, the sport doesn’t just have to benefit the individuals taking part; fundraising events on the trails are getting more popular than ever.

The best fundraising efforts circle around things that people already enjoy doing, which is why charity basketball tournaments or other sporting events are so popular. With more than 5 million people in the US alone taking up cross-country skiing, there are plenty who might be interested in taking part in a fundraising event centered on the sport. While a simple race might be the more traditional route to take, why not mix it up and throw in another popular pastime into the event?

Poker runs are already popular among boaters, bikers, and runners, but they are becoming more common among skiers as well, with events taking place in both Canada and Idaho as recently January of this year. They can bring together people of vastly different skill and experience levels for a fun day on the trails and, by collecting entrance fees from those taking part, raise money for some great causes at the same time.

How does a poker run differ from a regular race? Both require organizers to set out a trail for skiers to follow, ideally one that is open to multiple skill levels. Once you’ve chosen the loop that you want to use, the usual concerns for organizing a race-day event need to be addressed. Things like providing first-aiders and establishing safety procedures, promoting your event within your local community, and bringing in photographers to help document the day.

Poker runs just require a few extra steps to arrange, using the famous card game as a backdrop to organize the fun. Whilst poker chips are the usual currency in the game, you won’t be needing those on your poker run. Instead, all you need is a bit of knowledge about poker hands, and some playing cards. The playing cards are handed out to participants by volunteers along the route; so you’ll need at least five stops so that skiers can receive a full hand along the way. The idea is that whoever has the best hand when they return to the starting position wins a prize donated by a local business, with additional prizes being handed out for second and third place if they are available.

Sourcing donations is one of the most difficult parts of organizing any charity event; you’ll need to contact quite a few local businesses and organizations to get prizes that will entice people to take part in the cross-country skiing poker run. Aside from having a great charity to raise money for, the key to getting these prizes off of businesses is to offer them something in return. Most often, this comes in the form of publicity; putting their logos on the flyers and posters and giving them a shout-out on the day to make sure everyone knows that they made it happen.

Once you have your prizes sorted, it is time to promote the event to your local cross-country skiing community. Get the local papers involved and hang up posters with the place, date, and entry fee of the event around the clubs and lodges in the area. Reach out to the chosen charity for tips on promotion; they will almost certainly have a whole team of fundraising experts on staff to help you with any questions you might have.


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