Salisbury, North Carolina

What is Volksmarching?

Translated from German, Volksmarch means literally "People's Walk." Started in 1968 by the IVV (International Federation of Popular Sports), it was envisioned as a way to get ordinary people out into fresh air for exercise in a non-competitive atmosphere. Today, the IVV sponsors events in walking, bicycling, skiing, and swimming throughout Europe and North America.

The American Volkssports Association (AVA) is the United States affiliate of the IVV and sanctions events in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Rowan Roamers Volkssport Club is an affiliate of the AVA and the Tarheel State Walkers Volkssport Association (TSWVA).

The volksmarches are traditionally 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) or 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in length. A volksmarch is not a pledge walk or a race, it is a fun activity you do with friends, family, pets, or all by yourself.

Quick Guide to Volksmarching

by Bruce Goodnight


Now that I am here, what do I do?

You have parked your car and followed a group of people hoping that they are going to the volksmarch. You enter a room or an open area filled with people and tables. Which table do you go to?

First, look for a table with white or colored cards on it. There may be people sitting behind the table with a cash box. There may be a sign "Start" or "Start/Finish" or "Registration." It will probably be located close to the door you just came in. There it is!!

Walk up to this table and say, "I’d like to register for the volksmarch." Now it will get confusing. The people at this table will ask you whether you want the awards (also called the medal at some events) or credit. The award will probably be displayed on the table; they will probably point to it. If not, you can ask what the award is. If you would like to have the award you can say you want the award. If you do not want the award and are not involved in the IVV Achievement Award program you can walk for a $1.00 participation fee. You will need to fill out the card, give it to the start table personnel along with money for the award if you are getting it. They will number the card and return it or part of it to you to carry with you. Before you leave this table ask them what color markers to look for. Some clubs use red, blue, or yellow tape markings, streamers, and arrows. Some clubs provide you with a written map of the trail.

Before you start on the trail, take time to look around the start area. There will be a table labeled "Finish" or "Awards." This is where you will turn in your start card when you finish.

There will also be a table with colored brochures on it. These are announcements for future walks. Take a few minutes to look at them. You are free to pick these up. All the clubs in this region provide this information so that you will hopefully come to one of their events.

There might be a table with sales items on it. These could be club T-shirts, pins, patches, and books. Some clubs also sell food at their walks. Sometimes it’s wurst and hot dogs and sometimes it’s cookies and cake.

You might want to use the restrooms before you start the walk. The start location at most walks has restrooms. If not, the workers at the walk will tell you the closest one and whether there are restrooms on the trail!

Now that I am on the trail, what if I get lost??

It is unlikely that you will get lost; the people putting on the walk have tried very hard to make the trail safe and the directions of the walk clear. The trails are marked with tape or streamers or arrows or markers will be on trees, large mailboxes, street signs and poles, bridges, fences, etc. They will usually be at eye level, though they can be on the sidewalk or small lower-to-the-ground stationary items such as air conditioners, cable boxes, or fallen logs. You should be able to see at least one marker at all times while you are on the trail. Sometimes if the trail goes through the woods on a path, it will be marked sparsely. When the trail makes a turn, the markers are doubled and there will be a marker right after the double marker showing the direction the trail is taking.

If you are following a map, there will probably not be any markers. The writer of the directions will try hard to give you information about the buildings or landmarks you ere passing to assure you that you are on the trail. Much of this information is also historical and will add to your enjoyment of the walk.

If you get off the trail by mistake, just retrace your steps until you see a marker. Then continue to walk.

What if I get thirsty or get a blister or get tired??

Remember the start card you got when you were at the Start/Finish area? The one that the people told you to carry with you to get stamped at the checkpoints? Along the trail there will be one or two places where you will get this card stamped or punched. Usually there will be one or two people there to stamp or punch your card and to invite you to have a drink of water or candy, talk with other walkers, a Band-Aid for your foot, or if necessary, get a ride back to the start.

Finally, the end is in sight and I can go home to bed!

You have almost finished the walk and can see the Start/Finish point ahead. You may be very tired or very exuberant, but don’t head directly for your car. You need to turn your start card into the people at the "Finish" or "Awards" table. If you paid for the award, you will want to pick it up. If you participated and enjoyed it, you might want to pick up brochures for future walks or buy a wurst.

If you liked the walk (and we hope you did), you might want to check the table with flyers of upcoming events, for walks you might like to do. If you participated and would like to get into the IVV Awards Program, you can ask someone about that. Check out the sales table for T-shirts, pins, or patches.

The American Wanderer is the official publication of the American Volkssport Association (AVA). You can get a subscription from the AVA.

At the brochure table there is membership information on this club. If you don’t live around here, but are interested in joining a club near your home, there is a listing of clubs in The American Wanderer.

The AVA also has membership program you can join directly. It is called Volkssport Associates.

What are these green, blue, and purple books that people have??

There are a lot of organizations that provide walks. The American Volkssport Association combines the opportunity to walk with an award system. As you found out when you first registered, you could participate, or walk for credit, or for credit and the award. "Credit" is IVV credit and refers to the inked stamp in the green, blue, and purple books.

You get IVV credit by participating in an AVA sanctioned event, paying the IVV credit fee of $2.00 or getting the award and the IVV credit, and completing the walk. When you turn in your start card, you will also turn in your green, blue or purple books, which will then be stamped and returned to you.

How do I know which book to get? There are two main types of books; event and distance. Some people have both and some people have only one. Those that have only the event books will get an IVV award for completing 10, 30, 50, 75, 100, etc., different events. Those that have distance books will only get an IVV award for completing 500, 1000, 1500, etc., kilometers. Those that have both will get IVV awards for both events and distance—twice as many awards! It is a personal decision whether to have an event, a distance, or both books. For the $2.00 IVV credit fee, you will get no more than two stamps, one in each book. Books cost $5.00 each and can be bought from the Sales Table.

Okay, you want to get both. Now what do you do? For a beginning volksmarcher, there is a green book with 10-30-50 on it. That is your first event book. When you get it, cross out the 30 & 50; this is your 10-event book. Write your name and address on it right now. Now if you lose it, it will be returned to you. Now if you paid for the event and award you can get an IVV credit stamp in your new book and receive your award for the walk you just finished. If you only paid the $1.00 participation fee and would like to upgrade to IVV credit, tell the Volkssport Event volunteer that you, bought your books, and would like to upgrade to get IVV credit. They will take you back to the finish table, change your card to "Credit" and get your book stamped. Don’t forget to give them the additional$1.00 fee to upgrade to IVV credit.

From now on, when you go to a volksmarch, you can register for credit and get your books stamped. When you have completed your 10th event, photocopy your book, and send the book to the American Volkssport Association at the address given on the front of the book. Within a couple of weeks, your book will be returned along with a certificate honoring you for completing 10 events, a hat pin, a small patch, and a record book.

Now that you have completed 10 events, you need to buy another book this time crossing out the 10 and 50. On this book you will fill out both sides with 20 events. Filling up this book will give you a total of 30 events.

If you have only distance books, you will need to wait until you have done 500 kilometers, about 50 events, before you can send it in. You will also get a certificate, this time honoring you for completing 500 kilometers, a hatpin, a patch, and your record book.

Watch for the next issue of The American Wanderer for your name. It will be listed there every time you send your books in and get a certificate.

It is January 13th and there aren’t any volksmarches for a month, what am I to do??

In addition to weekend walks, there are guided walks, which are usually during the week often at night, year-round-events, and seasonal events.

At a guided walk, there is a definite starting time, for example, 10 AM. Walkers at the start point at that time will walk in a group or groups. Usually there is no event award though you can get awards from previous walks called "B" awards. For a $2.00 fee you can walk for credit or a $1.00 participation fee. Many clubs have guided walks before their monthly club meetings. You might want to do a guided walk and then attend the club meeting.

At year-round-events (YRE) and seasonal events, you are more or less on your own. The start point for these types of events are often at motels, convenience stores, gas stations, visitors centers or small shops. You tell the employee at the counter that you are there for the volksmarch. Sometimes they will help you with registering and sometimes they will direct you to the file box, which contains the supplies you need for the walk. If you have to do it yourself, look for the notebook that is in this file box. It will direct you how to register. The "checkpoints" or "control points" on a YRE or seasonal event can be another store or shop or can be the date on a statue. You might want to take a pen or pencil with you to write down the information that will be at the checkpoint. When you return to the start point, you or the employee of the store will stamp your book. Your start card along with the credit or award fee is put into an envelope that is provided by the club and either left in the file box or mailed to the club, depending on the directions in the notebook

YRE and seasonal events are both a good way to exercise and a good way to see an area. Many people do volksmarches while on vacation or on long trips.

We have only covered volksmarches in this pamphlet, but there are also swims, bikes, cross-country skiing, and skating events, which are part of volkssporting. There is a biennial national convention and AVA clothing items, and......