Stuttgart German-American Wandering Club 1972 (SGAWC)
What is Wandering?
You may find definitions such as: "travelling about without any clear destination"
Or: "To ramble without a definite purpose or objective; roam, rove, or stray"
When we refer to wandering in our context, we are talking about walking or hiking and yes, we actually do have a goal or destination.
While, sometimes we do find ourselves lost or deviating from the path to visit a nearby castle, waterfall, Christmas market, Bier/Wine Festival - Wandering or Volksmarching (people's march) is one of the safest, noncompetitive and most popular, internationally recognized sports.
And if that wasn't a mouthful - Volksmarching was founded right here in Germany in the 1960's to meet the needs for a community event that required no special level of fitness and incorporated all ages.
By the end of the 1960's the IVV (International Federation of Popular Sports)
was formed, covering all volksports: walking, biking, swimming and cross-country skiing.
In 1972, the Stuttgart German-American Wandering Club was formed.
Since then, we have been hitting the trails all over the world!
What to expect when you show up to a volksmarching event?
First you have to find the "Starthalle".
Depending on what time you get there, (earliest usually from 7:00 - 9:00) there will be cars parked all up and down the streets.
Sometimes there are parking areas.
And sometimes you may have to park a little ways off.
The Starthalle is the start place and is where you basically check-in and meet your friends - chat a while - eat and drink a bit.
This is also the place where you usually end your walk (there are exceptions).
The Starthalle can be small or huge with live music and a real party going on.
Sometimes there are so many people, you can actually get lost a little or find yourself just drifting with the crowd.
So, pay attention and look for the sign Startkarten-Ausgabe.
If you belong to a club like ours, tell them that you are from Stuttgart (note that some clubs have us listed under A instead of S).
The more people that show up to a march from a volkmarching club, the better chance we have at winning a group prize!
Also, at this point you must pay for either an orange card or a yellow card.
The regular card is without a prize (ohne Medaillen) and is about 2.00 Euros (this card entitles you to get credit for the walk with the DVV/IVV and covers insurance and the free refreshments at the controls — Note that you must fill out the card to ensure insurance coverage).
The "Auszeichnung" card is about 4.00 Euros (may vary) but you get a prize or medallion (mit Medaillen).
These prizes can be anything.
If you do not see them on the table, just ask the person at the table and they will show you.
Sometimes the prizes are mugs, plates, fuzzy bunny rabbits, model trucks - you just never know.
Once you pay for your start card you can find your friends, eat/drink or just head out and hit the trail.
You may want to take your camera as the scenery can be worth capturing.
Along the trail you will need to follow the markings for the distance you wish to complete.
These markings can vary greatly (even along the same trail).
Most marking is with colored tape, which may be around poles or trees or stuck to any surface (including the road) or may be tied to a branch or twig.
Markings can also vary from signs to sawdust or chalk.
Some clubs will have a sign at the start showing which markings belong to which distance.
Trail splits (Streckenteilung or Streckentrennung) are normally marked with indications of which distances go in which direction.
Pay close attention as sometimes the split is counter-intuitive (e.g. - the 42-km distance may go with the 5-km instead of going with the 20-km).
At various points along the trails you will find a control point (Kontrolpunkt or Kontrolle or Stempelstelle).
This is where you get your card stamped (to prove you did the walk) and have an opportunity to sit and refresh (free drink of tea or soup, other drinks and food for purchase).
There may also be medical personnel at the control.
Once you have your stamp and refreshment, follow the signs for your distance to continue along the route (Note that trail splits sometimes occur at or near controls).
Eventually, the trails will take you back around to the finish.
Here, you will need to present your completed card for credit (distance and/or event books—can be purchased from the club or the DVV Abzeichenwart).
If you purchased the mit Medaille card, take the card and proceed to the Medaille table (after you have your book(s) stamped) in order to get your award.
Some clubs will allow you to purchase additional prizes if you find them interesting (Note that some clubs require you to have a control stamp on each card presented for prizes and may limit the number of prizes per person).
Once you have completed the process, sit back and relax at the start/finish hall and partake in the available food, drink and camaraderie!
Before you leave the start/finish hall, look for the Werber area and pick up flyers for future walks (bring some to the monthly club meeting to share with your fellow walkers).
Designated disposal location for your empty plastic drink cups (might be a bag or a pipe/tube).
Bitte die Ampel benützen
Please use the cross walk and pedestrian light when crossing the road.
Die Strecke wird nicht geräumt oder gestreut
Usually seen in winter.
The trails haven't been cleared or salted.
Hin(weg) or Rück(weg)
You might see these when the out (Hin) and return (Rück) trails loop back over themselves.
These may be written on the ground or pavement.
Hunde an die Leine führen
Dogs must be kept on a leash.
Note: Dogs are allowed at a Volksmarch, but they should be kept on a leash near Starthalle and Control Points.
And they always must be kept on a leash in and near woods and nature protection areas.
Hundebar or Hundewasser
Water for your four-legged companion.
Karte (or Startkarte) bitte persönlich vorlegen
Each walker is to personally give their card to the person at the control to be stamped.
Kinderwagenstrecke or kinderwagengerecht
An easier detour along the trail for strollers.
Kontrolle nach 100m or Kontrollstelle 100m or Stempelstelle
You are approaching a control.
Note that clubs don't usually measure out the distance, it can be 50 meters or 400 meters to the actual control.
The control may also be off of the trail, so keep your eyes open.
Rauchen (im Wald) verboten
Smoking (in the woods) forbidden.
Note: Smoking is always forbidden in and near woods and nature protection areas.
Rollstuhl or Rollstuhlstrecke
Denotes trails that are wheelchair friendly.
Streckenteilung or Streckentrennung
Means that the trails are splitting.
Pay attention to the direction your intended distance is going, the trails might not go the way you expect and the longest trail might stay with the shortest trail.
Stufe or Treppe
Warning that you are coming up on a section of steps.
Warning, main road.
Check for cars before crossing.
Walk on the side of the road if the trail follows it.
Watch out for tree roots.
Volksmarching Abbreviations in the DVV Terminliste and on the DVV website
Walking Trail offered
R / Rad (Radfahren)
Bicycle Trail offered
Skiing Trail offered
Inline Skating Trail offered
JWT (Kinder- und Jugendwandertag)
Young Walkers Series - Kids (16 and younger) get special prizes, often based on answering questions posted along the trail
GTW (Geführte Tageswanderung)
Guided Volksmarch - No trail markings, a guide from the hosting club leads the walkers
mit AW (mit Abendwanderung)
with Evening Walk - there is also a walk offered that starts at 1600 or later from the same starting point and can be finished after nightfall
nur AW (nur Abendwanderung)
only Evening Walk - there is only a walk offered that starts at 1600 or later from the same starting point and can be finished after nightfall
Evening Bicycle Trail - there is a bicycle trail offered that starts at 1600 or later from the same starting point and can be finished after nightfall
* (kinderwagengerechte Strecke)
At least one of the trails is stroller friendly (normally the shorter one(s))
Torch Walk (flashlight or open flame)
5, 10, 20 km
Offered trail distances
5 km = 3.11 miles; 6 km = 3.73 miles; 10 km = 6.21 miles; 11 km = 6.84 miles; 12 km = 7.46 miles; 20km = 12.43 miles; 21km = 13.05 miles; 22km = 13.67 miles; 30km = 18.64 miles; 42km/Marathon = 26.22 miles; 50km = 31.07 miles
German Region Abbreviations for Volksmarching Events
HH (Hansestadt Hamburg)
Hanseatic City of Hamburg