Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.
Saturday is the 29th annual Bastogne Historical Perimeter Walk. This year it falls on the 62nd anniversary of the beginning of the bloody, monthlong campaign commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge.
The walk is not an IVV sanctioned event, so there will be no IVV credit. It is, however, a unique, well-organized event that we have attended for the past six years. The routes this year go north of the city into the area defended by the “Band of Brothers” who were popularized by the HBO series.
The walk starts between 8 and 9 a.m. and you can choose between 7-, 14- or 21-kilometer trails. At about 12:30 p.m. there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment Memorial. At about 2:30 p.m. there will be a parade through downtown Bastogne featuring veterans, re-enactors and World War II-era vehicles. The activities conclude at city hall with the centuries-old nut-throwing festival.
If you have not preregistered, you can still participate by registering in Bastogne on Friday between 3 and 6 p.m. or Saturday morning starting at 7 a.m. Registration is at the start hall Centre Sportif Porte de Treve. If you wait until Saturday morning, get there early because it will get crowded quickly and some roads may be closed for the parade.
Make sure you are prepared for any type of weather. The weather has been rather mild so far this winter, but Bastogne is in a part of the Ardennes where the weather can be unpredictable. Don’t let yourself get part way through the 21k route only to be surprised by a change in weather. Dress in layers for warmth and have some wet-weather gear ready. Remember, the more snow, the more realism for the history purists.
After spending the morning and afternoon in Bastogne, visit Luxembourg City on Saturday evening and get in your volksmarch for the day. Starting between noon and 6 p.m. this year, the event will take walkers along a 6- or 10-kilometer illuminated route through this 1,000-year-old city and the Christmas market. Grab the backpack for the goodies you’ll buy in the market and the stores along the way.
See the 10th-century Boch casemates, part of Luxembourg’s original castle, or the Grand Ducal Palace, the official city residence of the Grand Duke. There’s also the Notre Dame cathedral, shopping and an English-language movie theater. You should see this beautiful city lit at night by Christmas lights; it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
If you would rather travel north after Bastogne, Brussels is hosting an evening walk through the illuminated city. It will feature several of the city’s cathedrals, museums, the Royal Library, city hall and the famous Manneken Pis. The routes — 13, 16 and 20 kilometers — all depart from the Salle Omnisports in the Schaerbeek section of Brussels. You can start between 4 and 9 p.m. and must finish by 11 p.m.
Thanks to these folks for mailing volksmarch brochures in date order: Mary Campbell; Tom, Petra and Maya Casarez; Lew Harrison; Wayne Henry; Ramona and Horst Kechelen; James Kelly; Tim and Luchi Lynch; Dawn St. John; Nancy Shawley; Jose Valdez; and Ed Whitworth. If you notice that one of these articles does not have the “Thank you” section, it is not that we have forgotten you, it just means that we have rambled on too long in another part of the article and there was not room for it. We feel that the walk information might be helpful to more walkers, so it should have priority. Even if it does not get into print, we thank you for each and every flier we get.
Brief notes about this week’s events:
¶ A beautifully decorated wooden shovel is the prize at Bierbach, Germany. The walk is in the Saar region and is hosted by the club in nearby Blieskastel. The 5k and 10k start between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, while the 20k starts between 7 a.m. and noon both days. The finish time is 4 p.m.
¶ The last German swim event of 2006 takes place Saturday in Elsenfeld am Main. Those who complete 300 or 500 meters worth of 25-meter laps get credit for the pool event. Then bundle up and walk the 6- or 12-kilometer trails between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Both events close at 6 p.m. B-medals are the souvenir, and a bus will be available to take participants from the Bürgerzentrum start hall to the swim event at the Elsavamar.
¶ There is no 20k route again this year at Grosseelheim, Germany. Trails of five and 10 kilometers will start between 8 a.m. and noon for this Sunday-only event.
¶ If you’re driving to the event at Munich-Pasing, Germany, take exit 81 (Pasing) off Autobahn 8 and follow the IVV signs to the Max-Planck-Gymnasium on Weinbergerstrasse 19.
¶ The Kronau, Germany, course is 28 kilometers south of Heidelberg. The prize is a 10-inch dancing Santa . . . batteries not included.
Italian walking notes from Clark Soeldner:
¶ The walk in Roncaglia di Ponte San Nicolo is unusual in two ways. First, the walk’s prize is a 5-liter can of extra-virgin olive oil. Second, the cost of the walk is unique in that the start fee is 16 euros.
¶ Not to be outdone in the “unusual” department, the walk in Bagnara di Gruaro offers routes of 7k and 14k, which are repeatable — they can be walked again for additional credit as long as you are finished by 12:30 p.m. The award, a plate of beans and mixed barbecue, is offered partway through the course.
¶ The Castel Maggiore event has a very “busy” flier; it mixes all events. Along with the normal walks, which are for IVV credit, there are competitive runs of 21k and 3k (for the children). As best I can tell, the competitive events are not IVV-sponsored. I’m cautious with the Bologna province; I’ve done a walk that was listed in the annual IVV calendar but never did find the IVV folks (if they were there).
Have you enjoyed a good volksmarch lately? Write the Huffakers and tell them why you liked it. Also, please e-mail your volksmarch information for any country to email@example.com. Please mail brochures, in date order if possible, to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703- 0278.