A volksmarch or volkssport is a non-competitive event usually a walk (volksmarch), bike (volksbike), swim (volksswim), or cross-country ski (volksski or skiwandering) through a scenic and/or historic area over a predetermined route. It's not a pledge walk, it's not a race, it is a fun activity you can do with a club, with your family, with your pet, or all by yourself at your own pace. Volksporting got its name from its origins in Europe, literally translating as "sport of the people." Today there are thousands of volkssport clubs around the world, allied in the International Volkssport Federation, the IVV. Volkssporting offers a great escape for people from the pressures and hassles of everyday life and it provides an excellent opportunity to get out and enjoy nature.
Volksmarches are typically 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) on scenic trails, along rivers, around historic sites, through downtown areas or anywhere possible! Walking events may include more than one distance, but will always provide the minimum 10 km. You may take 2 hours or longer depending on your chosen pace and how often you stop to enjoy the surroundings. Walking is good exercise and encourages outdoor physical activity. Walking provides an exercise activity in which people of all ages and physical fitness can participate. It truly is the body's most natural and original form of exercise. All you need to get started is a good pair of shoes, loose-fitting clothes, and a safe route to follow. Of the four types of events conducted by volkssporting clubs, the volksmarch event is the most popular. Walks are conducted in all kinds of weather and all year round. A wintertime walk can be just as exciting as a summertime walk, but dress accordingly.
Wyoming and Colorado have many Volksmarching clubs that hosts weekend and seasonal events free to the public. The Wyoming Division of State Parks and Historic Sites hosts seasonal volksmarches through some of its most beautiful state park hiking trails.
Volkssporting originated in southern Germany during the early 1960s.
Originating as competitive running events, the program lost its appeal to the general
public. The clubs changed the events to be non-competitive, so that everyone could be a
winner. The first non-competitive event was held in Bobingen, a small town near Augsburg,
Germany. In 1968, the International Federation of Popular Sports (IVV) was founded by West
Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria as a union of non-profit sports
organizations to promote volkssport events throughout the world. Today, there are 27
member nations, including the United States, Canada, Japan, and much of Europe.
Volkssport events usually open between 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. with the latest
starting time between 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There is no rush to finish. Consult the
event brochure for the specific start/finish times. A volkssport event brochure is a flyer
or prospectus published by the event sponsors about the event. Event brochures are free
and are distributed at volkssport events to advertise upcoming events. A brochure will
contain event location, dates, times, trail description, map, picture of the award (if
any), a contact person and registration information.
At the event, you will be provided a start card along with directions for following the trail. Some trails are marked with directional signs, colored ribbon/tape, etc. At other events, you will be provided a map and written directions to follow. To be sure a person completes the required distance (and to keep participants from getting lost) checkpoints are set up along the course at which all participants must stop and get a stamp or punch on their start cards. The number of checkpoints at an event will vary between one and four. You must have your card stamped at each of these checkpoints or you won't qualify for the award/credit. Located with these checkpoints are rest stops, which provide water. Depending upon the time you spend at the checkpoints and your own walking pace, you can usually walk a 10 km (6.2 mile) course in 2 to 2 1/2 hours. At the end of the trail, go to the finish table and turn in your start card. Return of the start card means that you have completed the course, this is where you pick up your awards and/or receive your IVV Credit for achievement awards if you had elected to pay for an award or credit.