Tuesday, December 4, 2012

First Volksmarch has terrific weather, attracts walkers from around the state

Patricia Collier has never heard of an organized group walk in which she didn’t want to partake, so naturally she turned up Saturday at Arlington’s Christkindl Market 10K/5K Volksmarch – all the way from her home in San Antonio.
The morning before Collier was at a run/walk in Waxahachie, a Dallas White Rock Lake walk that afternoon, and another walk in Fort Worth early Saturday morning. Since the Christkindl Market event was from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., she strolled into Arlington by 10:30 or so, ready for yet another power walk.
“I heard about this one and just had to be here,” said Collier, who was seen later running the course. “I spent 23 years in the military, including Germany, and was quite familiar with the whole idea of a volksmarch.”
Arlington residents Steve and Connie Kerr came up with the idea of adding the traditional volksmarch to the Christkindl Market, the outdoor family festival celebrating the German Christmas heritage with authentic German cuisine, crafts and entertainment.
Held just north of the Ballpark and featuring over 50 booths, Christkindl Market runs through Dec. 15.

“Steve was stationed in Germany for three years in the 70s and we did a lot of volksmarches when we were there,” Connie Kerr said of the sport, which was brought to the U.S. by service members like her husband returning from Europe. The German term means “a people’s walk.”
“When we were talking about the Christkindl Market this year, his first comment was, `so are they going to have a volksmarch?’ We talked with (Council Member) Sheri Capehart, and that’s how the whole thing began.”
Organizers thought the walk was a neat addition and turned to the Tarrant County Walkers to set up the route and handle registrations.
By noon more than 200 people had walked around the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, through scenic Richard Greene Park and parts of the Cowboy Stadium. Walkers started at the Arlington Visitors Center and had the option of covering a 6K or 11K.
Arlington resident Sherry Pointer arrived to the Visitor’s Center with her 10-year-old twin boys in tow, confessing little knowledge of this German tradition.
“Our plan was to attend the market and I found out about this walk so we came early to do it,” Pointer said. “The best part of the walk was Richard Greene Park. The kids just loved the big sculptures and I really enjoyed the exercise without having a time limit.”
That’s the idea, said Tarrant County Walkers President Susan Fine.
“It’s a nice, non-competitive walk without someone clocking you,” Fine said. “You can go on a power walk and clock yourself, you can run it, you can just do a leisurely stroll. It’s up to you. That’s the beauty of the tradition, which I hope becomes a tradition here. That’s why we’re calling this our first annual walk. We hope to be back.”

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