How to Enjoy a Volksmarch Walking Event

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How to Enjoy a Volksmarch Walking Event

Volkssport Walk Sign
Volkssport Walk Sign. Wendy Bumgardner ©

A volksmarch is a walking event hosted by a local club, put on by walkers for the public to come and enjoy. Everyone is welcome and the events are either free or have a very small fee. These walks are designed by walkers for walkers. They often focus on scenic sights and historic sites rather than being a dash to the finish line. Instead of racing in a pack, you stroll at your own pace, usually on an uncrowded route.

How to Find a Volksmarch Walk

Find a local event by visiting the websites of the two national organizations. The American Volkssport Association (AVA) and Canadian Volkssport Federation (CVF) are the largest organizations of walking clubs in America. Their 600 clubs host non-competitive walks which are open to the public.

U.S. Event Search at AVA.org: For hosted volksmarch walks, select "Traditional Events Only," If you want to walk a map-guided walk rather than a hosted event, select "YRE/Seasonal Events." will show you a list of events and details for each one when you select it, including contact email and phone numbers for the event organizers and the host club website.

Canadian Events at Walks.ca include the hosted volksmarch walks listed by month. They also list the Permanent Trails, which are self-guided routes.

If none are listed, find the nearest club from the AVA club page or the CVF club page and give them a call or email to see what is coming up.

When You See a Walk You'd Like to Enjoy

After you view what information is online, you can call or email the local club contact for information about the event. You may want to know more about how easy or difficult the route will be, directions to the start, hours of operation, whether pets are allowed, and whether the trail is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. Also ask about any fees for the walk, for park entry, parking, etc. Often you'll be able to register when you arrive rather than needing to pre-register, but some events require pre-registration.

What to Wear for a Volksmarch Walk

Wear comfortable walking shoes you have already broken in. Dress for the weather. Layers are always a good idea. You will probably warm up once on the trail but you may want a jacket or umbrella.

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Registering for a Volksmarch Walk

Volksmarch Registration and Start Point
Volksmarch Registration and Start Point. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Find the Registration/Start Point for the volksmarch walk during its hours of operation. This may be in a park, a school, a community center, etc. Often it is a small set-up with a few tables and some signage.

Pre-Registration: You can usually register at the start point for the event. For rare events, you must pre-register. Be sure to ask the club when you call them ahead of time. Most events that have an award allow you to pre-register by mail to ensure you get your award at the event.

Registration: At the start point, find the registration table, fill out a start card and pay the appropriate fee.

  • Many events allow you to walk for free.
  • Some have a small entry fee for all walkers.
  • Event awards may be available. These can be a patch, medal, pin or another item to reward you for participation. These are available for a small fee.

New Walkers Packets: These are available at most events for new walkers to jump right into the AVA program. For only $5, the new walker gets:

  • The first set of IVV Record Books
  • Coupons for getting IVV credit for three events at no charge (usual credit charge is $3 per event).
  • Coupon to receive a free issue of The American Wanderer
  • Explanations about the volkssporting program.

You can order a New Walker Packet if you just can't wait.

Select a Trail and Distance: The standard volkssport trail length is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), and you are allowed to complete it twice on the same start card (20 kilometers or 13 miles). A shorter distance may be offered for those who need it. Many events have a 5 kilometer (3.1 miles) distance.

Many events have more than one trail available, so be sure to ask about length and difficulty and choose the trail(s) that you will enjoy the most. Also ask about restroom availability, water, and checkpoints before beginning.

Trail Ratings: Trails are rated for difficulty 1-5 from easiest to most difficult and A to D for the surface, from pavement to natural trail and to rocky and rooted paths. Volksmarch walks are held in every kind of terrain, from cities and towns to parks, countryside, and forest.

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Starting on a Volksmarch Walk

Trail Intersection to Triple Falls - Columbia River Gorge
Trail Intersection to Triple Falls - Columbia River Gorge. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Get on the trail: The club may provide a map and directions, and/or have marked the trail with ribbons, arrows, or chalk. Be sure to ask what markings to look for. Some walks have groups scheduled to go out together if you would like to walk with others. Ask about that before you start.

Walk at your own pace: Go as fast or as slow as you want. Run or power walk if you want to go aerobic. Stroll if you wish. Stop to picnic, shop, or sightsee if you want. Just be sure you can complete the trail by the official finish time.

How long does it take to complete a 10-kilometer trail? At a very easy pace, it takes most people two hours. If you are a power walker, you will finish in an hour and a half or less. More difficult trails take longer. If you walk the 5-kilometer route, it should take about an hour.

Checkpoints: There should be one or more checkpoints along the trail. Usually these are staffed by friendly club members. Take the time to have some water, maybe a little treat, and chat with them. Present your start card to be stamped.

Water: You should ask about the availability of water fountains along the trail before starting. It is a good idea to bring your own (filled) water bottle along to ensure you won't go thirsty along the trail.

Snacks: Checkpoints will often have hard candies or pretzels. Some start points also sell food. Bring snacks if you think you will get hungry. If you have any health problems, consult with your physician to determine how you should prepare for a two-hour walk.

Restrooms: You should ask about the availability of restrooms along the trail before starting.

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Finishing a Volksmarch Walk

Volksmarch Start/Finish Point with IVV Flag
Volksmarch Start/Finish with IVV Flag. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Finish: Turn in your start card at the finish table, even if you are just walking for free. Often the club will be marking off each person as they return to ensure everyone found their way back.

Collect your award: Now you get your medal, patch, or other award if you registered for it at the start. If you didn't register for one and now you want one, just ask for an upgrade and pay the fee.

IVV Record Books Stamping: Now you will get your IVV Record Books stamped if you registered for the award or for credit. If you bought a New Walkers Packet, open it and take out the IVV Record Books and present them for stamping. Be sure to bring your IVV Record Books to each event. If you forgot, ask about getting an Insert Card stamped.

Info on Upcoming Events: You will be able to pick up brochures on upcoming events on the Information Table. You may also be able to sign up for the club's email list.

Relax and meet new friends: Volkssport clubs welcome new walkers and want you take the time to visit with the club members and other walkers at the finish. Ask about how to join the local club.

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