Marching to my own beat

In the 1950s, south Germany created a noncompetitive “sport” for individuals. These “people walks” were set distances with no time accounting. If you finished the distance, you could get a “prize”. Every one is a winner. Although I believe in winners and losers (it keeps me honest) I am in LOVE with this “sport” or passtime.  We’ve done about 5 in the past 6 weeks, and even with skipping a week due to Ireland (where we walked over 20 miles, for sure!) I accrued over 125K this season alone. I am shooting for 500K before Sep. 2014. That’s “winning” in my book (literally! It has a little box to check when you hit this milestone!)
Why do I like Volkmarching?

1) It’s about community.

Groups or organizations host each walk. The walkers enter into a hall, usually an area that reminds me of a decked out gymnasium, and immediately it feels homey. Volunteers

2) You never know what you are going to see or come across. From vineyards

to statues









It’s the best fall sport ever. The fall weekends have been stellarly sunny.

Think of marked trails through vineyards, woods, rivers, gorgeous trees turning gold, burnt sienna, blues even. Plus, it’s pretty peaceful.  I don’t have to be in charge of anything. Not finding a hiking path. Not charting out a course. I pack snacks, and it is down hill from there (or up, in some cases).

Every trek has a different number of “check-points” but every time a control point comes up and the volunteer stamps my paper i feel VALIDATED and a bit proud.

3) The celebration.

We always get a beer when finished with trails of 20K or more.

My Favorite was Trappist Beer in Belgium

and typically, a piece of apfel kuchen 

How it works.

1) You read about the different walks in the area (we drove 2 hours one morning to trek in Beligum and decided we loved it so much, we hiked 20K and then 13K, with beers inbetween and after).

2) you pack snacks (there’s something fun about having snacks, especially the guy’s dried apples and my homemade trail mixes or presents my loved ones send me from Trader Joes)

3) wake up early, smell the autumn air and hit the road. Once in the city, you follow small signs with IVV taped up around the town to the start point.

4) you pay around 1.50 euro to enter the walk

5) Tie your shoes. Again. and Pee. That’s critical.

6) you might want to try some of helper #3’s kuchen. It’s 1 Euro.  And there might not be any left when you complete the 10, 20 or 42K you’ve set out to do.

7) Keep your eyes open, and follow the signs for your trek in particular. There are markings on the ground and in posts along the way.

8) drink water. Talk. about morals and dreams and irritations. (the guy tolerates all these things oh so much more fluidly when mobile)

9) make sure you are going the right way

10) stop at a control point. Get your paper stamped (that’s how they keep track of how far you go)

11) talk and snack some more.

12) at the finish, enjoy homemade treats and always always always, a beverage.

Now…don’t you want to go marching?


6 thoughts on “Marching to my own beat

  1. Sounds fabulous! I didn’t even know something like Volksmarching existed here. I like hiking, and I must say I love the idea of a non-competitive sport. There’s so much competition everywhere already … And the best things are those you discover along the way, and if it *was* a competition, you wouldn’t have the time for that!

  2. I love this idea. This sounds like so much fun. You are in such a great location for fun stuff like that. Actually, I am excited to see all the places to hike around here, and hope maybe next spring to get out and do more walking in the countryside, and around the mountains. Hiking Fuji is on my list! I don’t think the Japanese have any organized sporting walks like the Germans, but you never know. I could always just start walking and see where I end up.

  3. I love walking. It is so meditative and quiet but can also be so great for conversation. There is a cadence to conversation and to life that is brought out in walking and hiking. I enjoy long rambles with friends. Of course, I wish my good friends and long rambles were nearer at hand.

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