Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

Now that the hectic holiday activities have subsided, we hope that things are back to normal for you. Now is the time to remind you to review your volksmarch goals for 2009. We are eight 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 it.

We recommend that you take out your IVV books and see how many walks you attended and how many kilometers you walked in 2008. 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 2008, you can set your 2009 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 2009 is the year for you 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 2008 totals is the key to success in 2009.

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 their wealth of walking experience as well as new walking opportunities. 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.

If you are already a member of a club, this is the year to increase your participation. Become a committee member or run for an office. Make sure you volunteer to help on your club’s annual walk. At a minimum, make sure you join your club members on the club-sponsored bus or car-pool trips. Perhaps volunteer to drive. There might be some folks who do not have cars who would like to go on a volksmarch.

We also feel that making volksmarching a priority and long-range planning is important. For example, the Rothenburg walk on Feb. 28 and March 1 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 on how to make 2009 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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This Saturday is the annual Paris walk, which is unique for several reasons. First is the fact that you get to tour one of the most famous cities in the world. The list of the sights is too numerous to list, but one of the control points is near the Eifel Tower. Second, the walk starts in the afternoon so you’ll be seeing the city after dark when it is lit with holiday lights.

Paris’ nickname, the "City of Lights," will be especially true during this walk. When you are near the Eifel Tower, watch for the twinkling lights that illuminate the tower for about 30 seconds every few minutes. Third, the shorter 14-kilometer route does not take you back to the start hall. It ends at the Paris Hotel de Ville.

If you want to get the IVV credit, you have to go back to the start hall at the Halle George Carpentier. The good news is that there is a nearby metro station that will take you back to the start.

Whether you walk the entire 20 kilometers or just 14, make sure you are back to the start hall before they close at 11:30 p.m. This closing time is an hour earlier that last year, so plan accordingly.

If you travel by metro, take the Porte d’Ivry stop for the start hall. By car, exit the Paris Périphérique at Porte d’Italie. We have always used the metro to get to the start and based on the number of people that attend this walk, parking might be a challenge. We think this is a walk that all serious Volksmarchers need to do at least once while in Europe. Make sure you dress warmly and take the camera!

• • •

"Thanks!" to the following devoted walkers who have stuffed our mailbox again with fliers: Maya, Tom and Petra Casarez, William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro, William Collins, Manfred Dahl, Bob Gambert, John and Evelyn Golembe, Wayne Henry, Ramona and Horst Kechelen, John and Patty Marsh, Pat Patterson, and Nancy Shawley.

• • •

Miscellaneous short notes about this week’s volksmarch events:

• The walk in Limburg on der Lahn, Germany, should be an exceptional volksmarch. This is a beautiful city surrounded by very pretty countryside. It should provide an excellent setting for the first torch walk of 2009. A group of us walked the permanent trail in Limburg last spring and thoroughly enjoyed it.

A few notes from Clark Soeldner, our Italian walking guru:

• The prize at Prova di San Bonifacio is a bottle of wine and a half-pound of tortellini. This is for the first 1,500 walkers.

• The prize at the Vigasio walk is two pounds of rice. The flier notes that the walk is flat.

E-mail volksmarch information to Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703-0278.

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