Walking with the IVV Worldwide

They Love to Go A-Wandering

IVV Walk Starting Point - Silver Falls State Park
IVV Walk Starting Point - Silver Falls State Park. Wendy Bumgardner

Would you love to walk great walks hosted by local walking clubs around the world and earn lifelong achievement awards? Walking clubs in 40 countries are allied in the International Federation of Popular Sports (IVV). Their mission is to host non-competitive walking events open to everyone, where every walker is a winner.

The IVV was founded in 1968. A few walkers from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Germany met in Lindau, Germany and decided to found an international federation with the aim of organizing a sport that everyone could participate in, without classification and obligatory times..

The IVV sanctions non-competitive events in walking, biking, swimming, skiing, skating, and shoeshowing. Walking is the most popular of the Popular Sports - known by the German term Volkssports, thus the walking events in the USA are often called volksmarches or volkswalks. Volks translates as "people" or "popular."

Where in the World do They Walk?

The IVV is the largest walking organization in the world, and its member national associations are usually the largest or only nationwide walking associations in their countries. The growing list includes: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, South Tyrol, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Taiwan, Turkey and the United States. The IVV web site has contacts for all associations.

Walking Events

What is a volkssport walking event like? Our Going on a Volksmarch page takes you through a walking event from start to finish. Links take you off to explain various aspects and to lead you into the AVA's web site to clubs and events.

The standard minimum distance worldwide is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), and a 20 kilometer trails must also be offered.

Shorter routes of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) are also common in North America. Functionally disadvantaged walkers/wheelchairs are encouraged to complete whatever distance they can do comfortably.

The walks are non-competitive. Walkers register and begin the walk throughout a long start window. The only time factor is to end by a time three hours after the start closes. Along the way, the route is marked and there are checkpoints with water and candy to provide a pause. At the finish, every walker is a winner and can receive the event award - a medal, patch, mug, etc.

There are also thousands of Year-Round Walks, which you can walk at any time, guided by a map.

Keeping Track

The IVV provides an Individual Achievement Award Program which unites IVV walkers around the world. Walkers may purchase the IVV Record Books for both distance (kilometers walked) and events (number of events walked, biked, swam, etc.) and have them stamped at any IVV-sanctioned event worldwide.

These record books are then redeemed after a certain number of events (10, 30, 50, 75, 100, etc.) or kilometers (500, 1000, 1500, etc.) for a certificate, patch and hatpin.

Many volkssport walkers wear them proudly on their jackets or hats while they walk.

To find a volkssport walking event, visit the web sites and then call or email the club contact listed for more information. As not-for-profit organizations, the clubs have minimal advertising budgets and concentrate on building grassroots followings and partnering with schools, hospitals and other local sponsors. The events are offered free of charge or for a small fee.


The walking events are open to everyone. Those who wish to join the hosting club are welcome. Clubs vary considerably in size, personality, and range of activities. All clubs may host sanctioned volkssport walking events. Some additionally get together to walk for fitness, organize van trips or carpools to other clubs' events, and socialize. If there is more than one club in an area, a walker looking for a club to join should explore all of the clubs to see which one suits them best.

To form a club, the interested groups should contact the national organization. Affiliation is easy and in the USA brings event liability insurance and the chance to get 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status with the IRS.

Read All About It

Volkssport publications keep you in contact with the sport in your area or the places you plan to visit. See the IVV site for national publications and the Volkssport Publications site for those in North America.

Volkssports Changed My Life

I was a non-athletic kid who then had knee surgery with complicating nerve damage. I went on my first volksmarch in 1984, not believing I could ever make it to the end. When I finished those six miles I was rewarded with a medal, my first sports award ever. I was hooked and have remained hooked.

I am lucky to live in the Northwest where there are one or more volkssport walking events nearby each weekend, plus hundreds of permanent self-guided Year-Round Walks I can enjoy. With volkssporting I have become a walker and a hiker and now am working on walking for speed. I developed my leadership talents through the clubs and national organization, where I served as a national officer for eight years.
More: 10 Things I Learned in 30 Years of Volkssport Walking

Walking All Over The World

Walkers reward themselves for walking in different states, provinces, and countries. The IVV hosts an Olympiad every two years to bring together walkers from all over the world. Several tour companies structure their tours around volkssport events. Many IML Walking Association walking events are also sanctioned by the IVV, allowing walkers to be doubly rewarded.

With volkssport events, you can enjoy seeing your local area at walking speed and you can incorporate their walking events into your travels throughout your state/province, country or around the world.
More: Walking Festivals in the USA and Canada

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