Step into action at volksmarch

Nunavut Volkssport Club 10K walk quickly approaching



A small but dedicated group of adventure walkers are inviting local residents to join them in their annual 10-kilometre walk through the hidden streets of Iqaluit on June 28.

The Volkssport Club is an international organization that began in Europe and boasts millions of members all over the world. Throughout the year, members travel to different cities and countries to participate in 10K walks or hikes that take them through often undiscovered parts of the city and countryside.

“It’s really just an opportunity for people to get out for a bit of a hike and see a part of Iqaluit they haven’t seen before, or walk a different pathway than they usually walk,” said John Maurice, local member and spokesperson.

Although you don’t have to be a member of the club to take part, those who have been doing it for years keep a record of the kilometres they have traversed over the years in an official Volkssport Federation book. Every 10K walk is recorded in this book.

“There are people who have walked hundreds of thousands of kilometres,” Maurice said.

“It’s like a collectors thing. There are people who go from province to province, or jurisdiction to jurisdiction, to do volksmarches.”

The outdoor enthusiast introduced the annual walks to Iqaluit several years ago after first encountering the Volkssport Club quite haphazardly while on vacation.

He and his family have a cottage near Kingston, Ont., and while looking for something to do one summer they read about a family hike in a local tourist magazine. They thought it would be a fun and unusual way to see parts of Kingston they might otherwise miss.

“Like anybody, you drive through a certain town and you think you know it really well, but you probably don’t know it very well unless you’ve walked through it. It was exciting because it took us on these back routes and shortcuts in places of Kingston we’d never seen before.”

Maurice has been chipping away at completing the Frontenac trail, which spans from Kingston to Ottawa. So far he has completed about a quarter of the distance.

“You walk through farms and back roads – roads which you would never drive. You end up at a dead end then have to walk through a farmers field, then a gully, and you get to see really weird geological things. It’s really fun,” Maurice said.

In the past, the Iqaluit chapter has seen everything from a handful of participants to more than 50 people taking part. But regardless of this year’s turnout, it already promises to be a special event.

“It will be a bit of a special occasion because this year we are getting four outside visitors from down South, and two of them have walked in all 12 other jurisdictions in Canada except for Nunavut.

“The Canadian Volkssport Federation is going to send up a some special people to witness the event, and I’m hoping to get a dignitary to present an award to those who are completing their 13th jurisdiction,” Maurice explained.

The walk is being held June 28 starting and ending at Nanook School. A second walk is also being held the following day at Sylvia Grinnell Park, in which participants will hike five kilometres down the river and back up.

“The first walk is more official, but the second one is the icing on the cake. Members will have the opportunity to walk 20 official, accredited kilometres rather than just 10.

“It’s like money in the bank for some of these members who are dedicated volksmarchers,” Maurice said.

The club is a loosely formed group of people including everyone from avid outdoorsmen to kids who just want something outdoorsy to do.

“We’re not collecting money or donations. Just come and walk and have some fun.”

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