Volksmarch originated in Germany during the early nineteen sixties. Originally designed to promote as competitive running events, the program gradually lost its appeal to the general public. To regain public interest, West Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria founded the Internationaler Volkssportverband (IVV), or International Federation of Popular Sports in 1968. The countries developed a union of nonprofit sports organizations to promote folkssport (family-oriented, for the general public) events. Volkssport started in the United States in 1976 in Fredericksburg. In June 1979, the American Volkssport Association (AVA) was formally organized and officially recognized by the IVV. Today, there are thirty-three member nations involved in volkssport, including the United States, Canada and much of Europe, and member clubs stage a variety of events including walking, biking, swimming and skiing.
To find walking events in your area, look them up on the (AVA) http://www.ava.org/ or Deutscher Volkssportverband (DVV) http://www.dvv-wandern.de/ websites. Almost every weekend in Germany, there will be an event within a reasonable driving distance. Events are less common in the USA, but many clubs offer permanent trails that can be completed any day of the week.
At the start
The price for the standard start card is 1.50 euros for an IVV-stamp and includes insurance should you injure yourself on the trail. If the club offers an award that you want, your start card will cost 3.80 euros (1.50 euros standard price plus 2.30 euros for the award).
On the trail
To help you find your way, paths normally are well marked. The most common trail markings consist of brightly colored tape wrapped around tree branches, posts etc. Other methods include painted signs or even arrows placed on the ground in sawdust. When multiple distances are offered, the club will use different colored markers to help the walker distinguish between trails.
Control points, or Kontrolle, are posted every three to six kilometers. Present your start card for a validation stamp. These Kontrolle stops serve as break areas. Usually you can find free tea or buy sandwiches, sodas or even some alcoholic beverages.
After you successfully complete the walk, present your validated start card and any IVV incentive awards program books at the Stempelstelle table. The awards program is separate from the prize found at each walk and is broken into two types of participation: events (10, 30, 50 and every additional 25 events) and distance (every 500 kilometers). Through this program, you can earn awards consisting of stick pins, cloth patches and certificates indicating your level of achievement.
Once your books are marked with the official IVV stamp your start card will be returned to you if you purchased an award. The awards vary from club to club, but some of the more popular prizes are decorative plates, beer steins, cups and stuffed toys. Retrieve your award from the table marked Mediallenausgabe.
These events usually are very festive and include inexpensive food and drink and, many times, live music at the start hall.
Now that you’ve finished your walk, grab a bratwurst and a drink!