Volksmarches coming to Runnels County

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register
The leisurely sport of Volksmarching is coming to Runnels County. The Health & Wellness Coalition of Runnels County have started the process of forming a chapter under the Americans Volkssport Association by electing officers and completing the application.

RUNNELS COUNTY, TX. - Volkssport is coming to Runnels County! The word Volksmarch translates to "peoples march." It's a leisurely walk for people of all ages, rather than a march of sorts.

If you've traveled or lived in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you've probably heard of Volksmarches. Communities across Europe hold the local events on Saturday mornings. The course is usually a leisurely 5k or 10k walk. Some people choose to jog the route. In Europe, there is a small entry fee, which is used to purchase medals or porcelain plates for those who participate with participants being given a choice of which one they want.

The sport started around the mid 1960s. By 1968 the walks had gained momentum resulting in the formation of a governing body, The International Federation of Popular Sports (IVV). The IVV headquarters are located in Altötting, Germany (Bavaria). They currently have 10,000,000 participants in 7,500 events throughout Europe. As of 2019, IVV Membership includes 29 National Federations (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland/Liechtenstein, Southern Tyrol, Taiwan and the United States) as well as 12 additional "direct members" in Andorra, CapVerde, Croatia, Ireland, Indonesia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain—representing 4,000 local clubs and making volkssporting available in at least 40 countries worldwide. Members are loosely organized under three geographic groupings: IVV-Europe, IVV-Asia and IVV-Americas.

A group in the US formed the American Volkssport Association (AVA) many years ago. The events have gained in popularity, with some of the marches attracting thousands of people. They include everyone from from the elderly, to people pushing their children in strollers, to the aforementioned joggers. It's a competitive, or as leisurely, as you want it to be.

Currently, the plan is to hold marches in each community around Runnels County. The chapter has elected officers and completed the paperwork to have the chapter officially formed under the AVA. The vice president of the chapter is Dr. Bradly Bundrant. In addition to helping to form the AVA chapter, he has revved up the engine on the Health & Wellness Coalition of Runnels Count (HAWC). The HAWC sees the volksmarches as a natural progression to helping with community health.

America's walking Club

The American Volkssport Association (AVA) is a non-competitive sports organization committed to Fun, Fitness and Friendship.

Health is one of the aspects that the AVA is geared towards:

Mission Statement: Promote and organize noncompetitive fitness activities that encourage lifelong fun, fitness and friendship for all ages and abilities.

Vision Statement: Increasingly engage Americans in lifelong walking and other noncompetitive physical fitness activities.

Values Statement: 1) Health and Safety: 2) Volunteering and Public Service: 3) Non-Competitive: Inclusive: 4) Adventure and Camaraderie: 5) Environmental Stewardship: 6) Transparency and Accountability.

Currently, according to the AVA website (www.AVA.org), there are 198 active clubs in the US who hold 2,232 events annually.

HAWC, AVA partnering with the community

HAWC is partnering with several local businesses and groups to help with health screenings, diabetic testing supplies, getting women to annual mammograms, and more. The HAWC Board of Directors have applied to the United Way to fund a full-time administrative position.

With the Volksmarches, the HAWC would like to find a local business or organization to sponsor the events. This would allow the HAWC to give out medals to each Volksmarch participant. The medals will be designed by the HAWC board and will have the name of the sponsor on each medal. They are making plans to eventually host events each Saturday morning in a different town/community in Runnels County.

If you'd like more information on the HAWC, the Volksmarches, or sponsoring a event/march, you can email Candi Pfluger at cpfluger82@gmail.com or Bill Hancock at BHancock@gannett.com.