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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

Now that the hectic holiday activities have subsided and things are back to normal, it is the time to remind you to review your Volksmarch goals for 2008. We are 10 days into the new year and your goals should be set.

We don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, because they often are broken and forgotten by February or March, but a set of goals for the year gives you 12 months to complete them. We recommend that you take out your IVV books and see how many walks you attended and how many kilometers you walked in 2007. Volksmarching is flexible enough that you can decide to improve on either one or both of these areas, but be reasonable in your goal setting.

If, for example, you completed 16 Volksmarches for a total of 148 kilometers in 2007, you can set your 2008 goal for 20 or even 25 walks. Maybe you would like to increase the distance to 200 kilometers. If you always do the shorter 5- to 10-kilometer routes, you might decide to include a couple of 15- or 20-kilometer trails this year. If you are used to longer distances, maybe 2008 is the year to try a marathon walk. So if you decide to increase your number of walks or the distance you cover or both, a gradual increase over your 2007 totals is the key to success in 2008.

Perhaps this is the year for you to join a walking club. If you are new to Volksmarching, surrounding yourself with more experienced walkers will increase your exposure to walking opportunities as well as their wealth of walking experience. There are plenty of clubs out there and they are always looking for new members, regardless of experience. They look forward to the opportunity to make you an experienced Volksmarcher.

We also feel that making Volksmarching a priority and long- range planning is important. For example, the Rothenburg walk Feb. 23-24 is already on our schedule and only a serious emergency will alter our plans to attend. We have found that if we wait until Saturday morning to see where we want to go to walk, there is a good chance that something else will have come along and bumped walking off the priority list. This is why we try to occasionally have a “mark your calendars” section in this column.

These are some of our ideas for making 2008 a successful walking year. We hope to see you on the trails this year as we discover new and exciting places in Europe.

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Oliebollentocht after-action report. Unlike previous years, the sun was shining and the temperature was almost 40 degrees for the Oliebollentocht in Simplefeld, Netherlands, this year. This was a pleasant surprise for us. What was not a surprise was the delicious oliebollen and Glühwein that greeted us at the control point. The warm weather resulted in a fair amount of mud, but we figure that is better than ice. All told, it was an excellent walk on a beautiful day. With the added bonus of the oliebollen, it was a walk that cannot be beat!

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This is bargain week for Volksmarchers and “after-Christmas clearance time” for two of the clubs hosting walks. “B-medals,” prizes left over from previous years’ walks, will be offered at reduced prices in the towns of Eppelborn and Unterpleichfeld, Germany. Niether of the clubs mention what these prizes might be, which only adds to the excitement. Go ahead … take a chance!

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It is not very often that we see a ski event that offers IVV credit, but if there’s enough snow in Strass im Zillertal, Austria, you cross-country skiers will have the choice between 10- and 20- kilometer trails, while walkers can trek along either a 5- or 10- kilometer course. The start window is 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the last finish time is 5 p.m.

This year the club offers a choice between a ceramic pitcher and jar as the prize. Both are about seven inches tall and decorated with geese.

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Miscellaneous notes about this week’s Vlksmarch events:

If you live in the Bitburg/ Spangdahlem area, the walk in Hontheim would be a quick trip for you this Sunday. The 5- or 10- kilometer trails open between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. You have to be finished by 3 p.m. There is no prize this year.If Ulm is closer to home, walk in Ulm-Unterweiler and receive a 33-inch square tablecloth as the prize. Start the 6- or 11-kilometer routes on Saturday between noon and 2 p.m. or Sunday between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Finish by 4 p.m. both days.Our buddy Clark Soeldner has these tips about walks in Italy.The first 1,500 walkers at Prova di San Bonifacio receive a bottle of wine and a half-pound of tortellini.The walk in Versutta San Giovani di Casarsa has a prize of sausage and beets for the first 200 walkers.On the weekend of Jan. 19-20, the walks in Paganella and Monteforte require advanced registration; especially if you want the prize. For Paganella, call the tourist office at (+39) 0461-864400, or visit www.valledeilaghiturismo.it. For help with the Monteforte walk, see www.montefortiana.org or call Giovanni Pressi at (+39) 0349- 0854525.E-mail Volksmarch schedule information to two.walkers@yahoo.com. Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703-0278.


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