Long before we moved to Germany, everyone from our pediatric nurse when our daughter was born to a Senior DOD official at the Pentagon to us that we HAD to participate in a Volksmarch when we arrived. Well, we finally did!
There is a local association called the IVV, the Internationaler Volkssportverband, sponsors these events all across Germany, and all over Europe it seems, which are held primarily in the spring and summer. Upon some investigation we found one of the first events of the spring was about an hour from home near the city of Trier in a town called Trier-Ehrang so off we went on a Sunday morning.
Upon arriving we found that the town was bustling! There were cars parked every where, Germans have a knack for jumping huge curbs to park on sidewalks and when I pointed out a lovely spot on one of these curbs Jeff reminded me that we were driving a VW sportwagen… not our old XTerra… ok, fine. We ended up with a great spot in the local church lot and just walked across the street to the starting area. We were directed inside where we picked up our cards by paying our 2 Euro entrance fee per adult and were very surprised to see the number of people who had already finished. The event started at 7am and by 9:30am there were probably over 100 people finished and enjoying food! You can start any time from 7am to 1pm and must be finished by 5pm for this particular Volksmarch and this seems to be pretty common.
The trail is very well-marked and the different distances are denoted by color. In this instance, blue was the 6k, 11k was yellow and 20k was orange. There is a stopping point for each distance – 1 for 6k, 2 for 11k, etc. with snacks and drinks for purchase and they will also stamp the card that you purchased. With this stamp you can then get your overall book stamped at the end of the Volksmarch. After many events you are eligible for prizes, etc… we haven’t quite figured this part out yet but are now the proud owners of our IVV cards so at our next event we will feel as though we fit in.
The walk itself was nice, we are spoiled by the scenery in our area so the hike through mostly woods with few view points was a little dull for us but it was a lovely spring walk. The trail was wide and there was plenty of space for faster walkers to pass. We found that there were people of all ages participating and enjoying the walk. There are even clubs that come via bus and have matching jackets! We are contemplating getting our own flag and jackets for next time…
Post race there is a fun celebration with typical German food, as we have seen at other events like the kerwe celebrations, you buy your tickets first then get your food. There was also coffee and cake (homemade of course by the locals) and some activities for kids. They also have handouts for the other events all around the area and nearby, we found several in Luxembourg that look fun as well!