Volkssports season begins in Black Hills

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- It's finally spring; time to get out and experience all the beauty the Black Hills area has to offer.

One way to do that is to get involved in volkssporting.

Volkssports consist of groups either swimming, biking or, the most popular, walking, which is better known as volksmarching.

"A volksmarch is a non-competitive, six-mile walk or hike. It's not a pledge walk, it's not a race; it's a fun activity to do with a club, your family, your pet or all by yourself," said Mr. John Moranti, 28th Services Squadron resource flight chief.

"I think volksmarching started in the United States in the early '80s," stated Mrs. Mary LePire, to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (July 29, 2001). Mrs. LePire, secretary of the Las Vegas High Rollers and Strollers, stated that the sport was imported largely by military people who became acquainted with it while serving in Europe.

"Volksmarches take place worldwide. There are over 350 clubs throughout the U.S. and many thousands throughout the world," Mr. Moranti said.

"Being a member of a volksmarching club allows you to receive news letters with information about upcoming events and gives you a sense of belonging," Mr. Moranti said.

Clubs sponsor volksmarches in their area.

Before a march begins, the sponsoring club goes out and measures for distance and marks the path with ribbons or flags, or provides a map of the area being covered. The walk is also rated for difficulty from levels one through five.

A level-one trail is an easy, on pavement or well-maintained trail with no significant hills; this is often suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. A level-five trail is a very difficult walk, all on rough fields or woods with many steep hills or high altitude trails and very rough, uneven terrain and unstable inclines.

The largest volksmarch in the US happens to be the Crazy Horse Volksmarch, a level-four, taking place June 3 to 4. Black Hills Volksmarching Association is the sponsoring club of which Mr. Moranti is the vice president and point of contact.

"More than 10,600 people came out last year for the Crazy Horse hike, and we've had people contacting us from as far away as Australia and central China about this year's march," Mr. Moranti said.

To get involved in volksmarching or for more information, call Mr. Moranti at 342-6188 or visit the Black Hills Volkssport Association Web site www.ava.org/clubs/bhva/.

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