We set out into the dark December night with a mission and a fork. Given this choice of tool, you might surmise that our mission involved eating. On the contrary, it was all about exercising, specifically walking. My friend, Cindy, had volunteered us to be the clean-up crew that trailed along and removed the pink plastic ribbons that marked the route of a just completed “Volkswalk”. (Some of the ribbons were stapled to wooden posts. We didn’t have a staple-puller on us, but we were starting from a pub, so a fork seemed like a good substitute.)
Cindy had introduced me to Volkswalking, and I’m very grateful. Not only is it a great way to get out and get some exercise, it also stimulates you to celebrate your own community, to go to nearby small towns or neighborhoods that you may not be familiar with. In short, volkswalking is a nice way to keep that adventurous mentality alive when you’re not traveling.
What is a Volkswalk?
Volkswalks are a form of volkssports- non-competitive, locally organized, popular sporting events. (There are also biking, swimming and skating events.) A walking club organizes an event to include a well-marked route, check-in points with snacks and water, and information about the local area. A volkswalk is typically 10km long and is rated as to its level of difficulty. A volkswalk can happen in an urban or rural setting and they are often scheduled to coordinate with local festivals.
Volkswalks are free, but for a nominal fee ($2 US) you can sign up for “credit”. This means that you receive a record book to track your volkssporting events and after a certain number of events and/or kilometers will receive small prizes (pins, patches, etc.) noting your achievement. A little extra motivation never hurts.
How Did Volkswalking Start?
Three guys (from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Germany) met in Germany and decided it was time to form a new kind of sport- sporting events where everyone is a winner. They launched their movement in 1968 and IVV events the world over are their legacy.
How Do I Find a Volkswalk Near Me?
Volkswalks (and other volkssporting events happen in countries around the world. Check out the IVV website (International Volkssport Verband) for more details. To find an event in the United States click here.
Walking back from my mailbox one morning, I noticed I had a letter from the Vancouver walking club. I had enjoyed a volkswalk they sponsored in the Columbia River Gorge the weekend before, but was skeptical as to why they were sending me mail. To my delight, I discovered that I had won a drawing (first time in my life) I entered when signing up for the walk and that I was entitled to a new pair of shoes from New Balance. I chose some hiking boots which were later to travel the world with me. Nice benefit from one little volkswalk.