They Love to Go A-Wandering - Walking with the IVV
"On January 14, 1968 a few walkers from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Germany met in Lindau, Germany and decided to found an international federation with the aim of organizing a NEW kind of sports - sports without classification and obligatory times. Today these are known worldwide as "Volkssports". On December 15, 1968 they met again and laid the foundation stone for a remarkable movement: International Federation of Popular Sports (IVV)." IVV World News. Today the IVV celebrates 30 years of hosting non-competitive walking events where every walker is a winner.
The IVV sanctions non-competitive events in walking, biking, swimming, skiing, skating, and shoeshowing. Walking is the most popular of the Popular Sports - known by the German term Volkssports, thus the walking events in the USA are often called volksmarches or volkswalks. Volks translates as "people" or "popular."
Where in the World do They Walk?
The IVV today has national associations of walking clubs worldwide and are expanding each year into the countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain and in the Pacific Rim. It is the largest walking organization in the world, and its member national associations are usually the largest or only nationwide walking associations in their countries. The growing list includes: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, South Tyrol, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and the United States. The IVV web site includes address, phone, and email for all of the member nations.
What is a volkssport walking event like? Our Going on a Volksmarch slide show takes you through a walking event from start to finish. Links take you off to explain various aspects and to lead you into the AVA's web site to clubs and events.
The standard minimum distance worldwide is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), and a 20 kilometer trails must also be offered. Shorter routes of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) are also common in North America. Functionally disadvantaged walkers/wheelchairs are encouraged to complete whatever distance they can do comfortably.
The walks are non-competitive. Walkers register and begin the walk throughout a long start window. The only time factor is to end by a time three hours after the start closes. Along the way, the route is marked and there are checkpoints with water and candy to provide a pause. At the finish, every walker is a winner and can receive the event award - a medal, patch, mug, etc.
The IVV provides an Individual Achievement Award Program which unites IVV walkers around the world. Walkers may purchase the IVV Record Books for both distance (kilometers walked) and events (number of events walked, biked, swam, etc.) and have them stamped at any IVV-sanctioned event worldwide. These record books are then redeemed after a certain number of events (10, 30, 50, 75, 100, etc.) or kilometers (500, 1000, 1500, etc.) for a certificate, patch and hatpin. Record keeping is recommended by all sports programs to encourage building a healthy habit. Many volkssport walkers wear them proudly on their jackets or hats while they walk.
To find a volkssport walking event, visit the web sites and then call the club contact listed for more information. In the past year many local volkssport clubs created their own club web sites. As not-for-profit organizations, the clubs have minimal advertising budgets and concentrate on building grassroots followings and partnering with schools, hospitals and other local sponsors. The events are offered free of charge or for a small fee.
The walking events are open to everyone. Those who wish to join the hosting club are very welcome. Clubs vary considerably in size, personality, and range of activities. All clubs may host sanctioned volkssport walking events. Some additionally get together to walk for fitness, organize van trips or carpools to other clubs' events, and socialize. If there is more than one club in an area, a walker looking for a club to join should explore all of the clubs to see which one suits them best. To form a club, the interested groups should contact the national organization. Affiliation is easy and in the USA brings event liability insurance and the chance to get 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status with the IRS.
Read All About It
Volkssport publications keep you in contact with the sport in your area or the places you plan to visit. See the IVV site for national publications and the Volkssport Publications site for those in North America.
Volkssports Changed My Life
I was a non-athletic kid who then had knee surgery with complicating nerve damage. I went on my first volksmarch in 1984, not believing I could ever make it to the end. When I finished those six miles I was rewarded with a medal, my first sports award ever. I was hooked and have remained hooked. I am lucky to live in the Northwest where there are one or more volkssport walking events nearby each weekend, plus hundreds of permanent self-guided "Year-Round Walks" I can enjoy. With volkssporting I have become a walker and a hiker and now am working on walking for speed. I developed my leadership talents through the clubs and national organization, where I served as a national officer for eight years.
Walking All Over The World
Walkers reward themselves for walking in different states, provinces, and countries. The IVV hosts an Olympiad every two years to bring together walkers from all over the world. Several tour companies structure their tours around volkssport events. Many IML Walking Association walking events are also sanctioned by the IVV, allowing walkers to be doubly rewarded. With volkssport events, you can enjoy seeing your local area at walking speed and you can incorporate their walking events into your travels throughout your state/province, country or around the world.