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See this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

Happy new year, everybody! We hope you get the year off to a great start and that you have an abundance of volksmarches in store for you this year! If you keep the fliers coming our way, we will provide you with plenty of options for your weekends of walking.

At a time when new year’s resolutions are flying around like visions of sugar plums, we recommend that you set a volksmarch goal to reach in 2010. New year’s resolutions are often forgotten by February. That’s before volksmarch season gets into top gear. Based upon your personal volksmarching experience, set a reasonable goal for the number of walks you want to attend, or the number of kilometers you want to walk this year. Then get out there and attack those goals one walk or one weekend at a time. You’ve got a whole year to reach your goals.

You might be asking, “How can I set my volksmarching goals?” The most important thing is to keep your goals at a level that is comfortable for you. If you have never done a volksmarch, perhaps your first goal should be to find a friend who does volksmarches, or join your local club, and get out and do at least one walk in 2010. That will get the ball rolling, and next thing you know you’ll love the sport. If you have done a few walks in the past, count the number you have completed and round off the number to the next highest multiple of 10 and make that your goal for 2010. You might also add the total number of kilometers you walked last year and round that number up to the next multiple of 100. Either way, keep your new goal within a reasonable reach.

Another goal you can set is to support your local volksmarch club. This is fairly easy if you live near a big base such as Ramstein, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Aviano or JFC Brunssum. These bases have large volksmarch clubs that plan many events during the year. For those who are not close to one of these clubs, search out and join a local civilian club. Either way, it’s a place for you to meet more volksmarchers, get questions answered and gain experience in this sport, especially if you are a novice.

But clubs need more than members. They need leaders, planners and organizers. Every event or trip requires many hours of volunteer work. If you are a more experienced volksmarcher, we’re sure you recognize the many number of hours required to sponsor a walk. It would be a tremendous help to your club if you could find the time to work at its next walk, or to hold a committee position. New people in a club, or on a committee, means new ideas and a renewed energy level. Based upon our personal experiences, we have seen and heard of several instances in which a small nucleus of members do all the work and the rest of the club members reap the benefits. Remember, there is strength in numbers, so the more people who chip in and help, the fewer people getting burned out from always shouldering the burden.

If you keep in mind the benefits of volksmarching, it will make your goals easier to reach. Some of the benefits are: It’s a source of good, healthy exercise; it doesn’t cost a great deal of money; you can walk as far and as fast as you want on any given day; it allows you to see and experience the beauty and the diverse cultures of Europe; you get to meet people who share your love of walking; and it’s a sport that you can enjoy around the world. Catch the volksmarch bug over here in Europe and take it back to the U.S. and help it grow there. We believe it is a win-win situation. We hope that 2010 is filled with many volksmarching opportunities, complete with gentle downhill grades, for you all.

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A couple of “must-do” walks that will help you with your goals are approaching, so start planning for them now.

• Next Saturday, Jan. 9, is the annual Paris walk. We think this is a walk that all serious volksmarchers need to do at least once while in Europe. We recall how “Pat” and Cheryl Patterson told us last year’s walk was bitterly cold. Make sure you dress warmly and take the camera! For information on this walk, as well as the club’s other walks this year, visit www.godillot-familial.com.

• Feb. 27 and 28: Rothenburg ob der Tauber. One of the most enchanting cities in Germany is hosting a weekend of excellent volksmarching. Mark it on your calendars now and plan on attending. Just as Paris is a must-see city, so is Rothenburg. Both places can be addictive – if you go once, chances are you’ll want to go back.

There will be more information on these walks as they get closer and as more fliers and facts roll in. If your club is hosting a walk, please let us know well in advance so we can “talk it up” for you. We need a minimum of two weeks advance notice to meet our publication deadlines. This also applies to any upcoming walks that you consider to be exceptional. Let us know why you think it is great, and we will share your enthusiasm with your fellow readers. We look forward to your feedback and input. Drop us a few lines at two.walkers@yahoo.com.

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A million thanks to all the people who have sent us fliers this year. This week we will list you all: Maya, Tom and Petra Casarez; William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro; William Collins; Manfred Dahl; Theresia Fontaine; Susan Fowler; Bob Gambert; John and Evelyn Golembe; Sara Gonzales; Lew Harrison; Egon Hatfield; Wayne Henry; Jan and John Jensen; Ramona and Horst Kechelen; John, Mary and Tess Laub; Doug LeVien; Tim and Luchi Lynch; John and Patty Marsh; Dave Miller; “Pat” and Cheryl Patterson; Nancy Shawley; and Ed Whitworth. A special thanks to Clark Soeldner for the information on Italy.

Please keep the information coming!

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Miscellaneous notes about this week’s volksmarch events:

• Tomorrow’s walk in Magstadt, Germany, is a “Stammtisch” walk for the Stuttgart German-American Wandering Club. Attending this walk gives you the opportunity to meet some dedicated walkers and get the first walk of 2010 crossed off your list. This walk is unique in that you can walk both today and tomorrow and get two event stamps; one for 2009 and the other for 2010.

• The prize at the walk in Tacherting, Germany, is a Christmas ornament that hangs on a metal stand. It looks very similar to the prize we got at the Ebernhahn walk a few weeks ago and we love it. Ours has a blue LED light inside that gives it a beautiful glow.

• Clark Soeldner, our expert on Italian walks, tells us that the plans the Aviano Roadrunners had for walking their permanent trail one last time in 2009 were waylaid by snow. Clark couldn’t even get to the start location due to slippery roads. The mountain trails would have been worse. The walk has been rescheduled for this Sunday. Start time is still 8:30 a.m.

Clark adds, “I’ve done the Avesa walk several times and always enjoyed it. After a hot chocolate boost at the start, you head uphill through olive groves. This is a very pretty walk through the hills and you’ll see great panoramas, especially just past the mid-point restoro. There is no set cost; donations are welcome. There will be a large restoro at the end.”

E-mail volksmarch information to two.walkers@yahoo.com. Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09752.


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