Volksmarch Starting Point with IVV Flag
Volksmarch Starting Point with IVV Flag. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Definition of Volksmarch: A volksmarch is a non-competitive walk. Volksmarch walks are open to the public to come and enjoy. They are not charity fundraising walks, but walks held for the purpose of getting people out walking. Participation is not limited to members of the hosting club.

Pronunciation: volks-march (noun)

Also Known As: volkswalk, volksmarsch, volkssport walk, fun walk, traditional walk, year-round walk, IVV walk, AVA walk.

Alternate Spellings: volksmarsch

Common Misspellings: volkmarch

Examples: I went on the Daffodil Festival volksmarch on Saturday.

Origin of Volksmarch Walks

Volksmarching got its name from its origins in Europe, specifically in the Bavarian region of Germany. Volks can be translated from German for "people" and march from marsch for walking or marching. It means "people's march" or "people's walk." Much like the Volkswagen is the people's car, volksmarches are walks for everyone.

Volksmarch walks have been organized in Europe since the early 1970's with the intent of being non-competitive and welcoming people of all ability levels. They are specifically untimed events, with awards or mementos given to everyone who participates and nobody receives an award for crossing the finish line first.

Volksmarching Organizations

The term volksmarch is not trademarked, but it commonly used only for walks sanctioned by a walking club that is allied with the International Volkssportverband (IVV) (International Federation of Popular Sports) and which provides a credit stamp in IVV Achievement Award books at the finish of the walk.

There are thousands of volkssport clubs around the world allied with the IVV. The clubs exist to host walking events that are open to the public, to encourage healthy, fun physical activity. Clubs are under the umbrella of a national organization or are direct members of the IVV. In the USA, the parent organization is the American Volkssport Association, a non-profit organization.

Kinds of Volksmarches

At a traditional volksmarch walk, the club maps out a route of a minimum of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). They mark the trail with ribbons or arrows for a specific day or weekend, or they may provide a map. Walkers are invited to join in at any time during a long start window (often four hours) so they can enjoy the trail at their convenience. Checkpoints and refreshments are usually provided every three miles along the way. A shorter route of 5 kilometers (3 miles) may also be provided.

A guided volksmarch walk is a group walk where the group all starts at the same time. The trail might not be marked and the walkers must stay with the group.

A Year-Round Volksmarch or Seasonal Volksmarch is an unstaffed walk, open for months or continuously. Walkers pick up a map at a designated starting point and use it to guide themselves around the route.

Volksmarch walks are usually held outdoors. They include routes in parks, countryside, towns, historic areas, cities and natural areas.

The walking surface may be sidewalks, asphalt paths or natural trails, and often walks have a combination of surfaces.

Walks are rated for difficulty: Trail ratings for volksmarch walks

Finding a Volksmarch

Calendars of volksmarch events and locations of year-round walks can be found on the web sites of the national volkssport organizations.
IVV Web Site

You can register for most volksmarch walks at the starting point when you are ready to start the event. A small fee may be required, usually the equivalent of $3. You are often welcomed to join the local club and to buy IVV Individual Achievement Award Record Books to track you walks. These are optional, but are a fun way to earn awards based on the number of volksmarch walks you enjoy.

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