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
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.
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?