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See this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

Again this year, Col. Nils C. “Chris” Sorenson, commander of U.S. Army Grafenwöhr, Germany, extends a hearty welcome and invites all volksmarchers, especially those from the Grafenwöhr and Vilseck communities, to attend this weekend’s walk in Grafenwöhr.

He calls volksmarching “an interesting, healthy and relaxing sport, in which language is not a barrier. It offers opportunities to get acquainted with the beautiful Oberpfalz landscape while meeting and talking to co-marching neighbors. This is important to continue promoting outstanding relations and friendships among soldiers, civilians and family members of Germans and Americans, as well as people of all other nationalities, who also participate.”

We cannot agree more. In fact, we feel that the volksmarching traits that Col. Sorenson describes can be applied across Europe and the world. Once you have done a few walks in Germany, or wherever you are stationed, you’ll be tempted to try a walk in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy or the Netherlands. After that, you’ll be hooked on volksmarching and will want to keep doing it when you move back to the States. This would not only benefit you as a walker, but would promote the growth of the sport as well.

To do this, you have to take the first step: If you are near Grafenwöhr this weekend, attend this walk. The start location is in the Jugendheim, near the church, on Kolpingstrasse. Start times for the five-, 10-, and 20-kilometer trails are 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 7-11 a.m. Sunday. Saturday’s finish time is 5 p.m.; Sunday’s is 3 p.m.

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At this time of year when the amount of daylight lessens, more walking clubs will be offering just five- and 10-kilometer trails. The number of control points may also decrease. While most clubs typically have two control points during the summer for a 10k course, many will only provide one during fall and winter. We’ve even attended a couple that had no controls at all. Keeping this in mind, it’s even more important to carry a small water bottle. In the colder months, you, your family and the family dog must still stay hydrated. Don’t let the cold weather fool you … carry fluids.

Meanwhile, in the cooler weather, more clubs will be offering broth at control points instead of tea, and some will offer pea soup. We highly recommend trying both for a tasty warm-up.

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For an excellent opportunity to expand your walking experiences, join the Heidelberg International Wandering Club for its bus trip to Rixheim, France, on Nov. 21. Not only will you walk through the beautiful French countryside, but there also are plans to visit a French supermarket to buy cheese, wine and other French specialties. For more information contact the club at HIWC@yahoo.com. The last day to sign up is Oct. 21; that gives you plenty of time to work it into your schedule.

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Notes about several of this week’s events:

• The hot prize of the week is the lion doll at Grafenwöhr, but a close runner-up is the pair of wineglasses you can get by finishing the walk in St. Goar on Wednesday. These have the outline of the St. Goar town hall on them. Running a close third is the teddy bear offered at the Pfaffenweiler walk.

• Soufflenheim, France, a town known for its beautiful ceramics, is having a walk Sunday. Take extra euros in case you see something special.

• You can walk in the Heidelberg, Germany, area again this weekend and then visit the castle and other sights of this fabulous city. The Heidelberg-Emmertsgrund march affords folks the chance to walk five, 10 or 20 kilometers Saturday or Sunday.

• Allenbach, Germany, is offering B-medals again this year, but maybe you can still pick up an onyx elephant with an up-turned trunk. We were pleasantly surprised how nice this prize was when we attended this walk. It is in the “back yard” of the Baumholder and Kaiserslautern military communities, and close to the Eifel community.

• The flier for the Bassano del Grappa, Italy, walk notes new courses for this year. In addition to the walk, a trip into the town of Bassano del Grappa is well worth the effort. Don’t miss the covered bridge. Of special interest is the grappa shop on the east end of the bridge. Don’t sample the grappa unless you have a designated driver!

• At the Padua, Italy, walk, your start card is good for free admission to the Orto Botanico and reduced admission to other places of interest from Oct. 11-18.

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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