Northborough Volkssport enthusiast makes friends via historical treks
By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Lorraine Lee loves Northborough. She cannot wait to show off the town where she lives to Volkssport participants Sunday, Aug. 12. Lee is a member of Walk ‘n Mass Volkssport Club, an affiliate of the American Volkssport Association and the International Federation of Popular Sports.
Volkssporting began in Germany more than 30 years ago. It consists of noncompetitive walks and other fitness activities for individuals and families. The upcoming local trek will introduce participants to such town features as the former Daniel B. Wesson estate and the Northborough Bank, built in 1854.
Volkssport events are held throughout Massachusetts, across the country and in various locations around the world. According to Lee, many of the events are themed and there’s something for everyone. Some thematic walks include tours of lighthouses, covered bridges, courthouses, ballparks, literary landmarks, cemeteries and other historic places.
Some special events have a component that allows participants to commemorate their milestone completions with patches, pins or certificates. Participants can track places they’ve been by obtaining stamps in their Volkssport logbook.
Lee found out about Volkssport walks through an article in a local newspaper.
“There was just a little tiny story that said they were having a walk in Marlborough, and it was going to be by a couple of historical areas, and there’s going to be an ice cream social afterwards and everyone was welcome and it was noncompetitive. And so I said, ‘Oh good, I need to exercise, I love people; ice cream in the summer is fun, and I could do it with my daughter,’” Lee said.
She attended the Marlborough event six years ago, and has been hooked ever since.
“It was really nice. It was very organized, and there were people of all different ages. It’s nice that it’s multigenerational… somebody who doesn’t have grandparents will see older people, and they can be helpful to them, and the older people can be an example for the young people, and then the young people can be uplifting for the older people,” Lee said.
She’s impressed by the dedication of the club’s volunteers who map out intriguing treks for others to enjoy. She was inspired to set up the Northborough walk and said she’s grateful to longtime Volkssport volunteer Karen Kolaczyk, of Marlborough, for assisting her in the process.
Lee said the walk will have choices that are stroller- and wheelchair-accessible. She hopes people who attend will enjoy the club offerings as much as she does.
“What I love about it is it draws people who are of varied backgrounds, people who have a lot of different interests. But it seems that all of the people are interested in history, in socializing, in fitness, and they’re not competitive as far as athletics goes – it’s more walking and seeing interesting things and being with people – and you make friends,” she said.
For people who are intrigued by the educational component but who prefer solitude, many of the walks include self-guided options that allow individuals to explore on their own. Even though Lee loves meeting people, she took advantage of the self-tour option when visiting Colorado for another purpose. She was enthralled by the “Garden of the Gods” course she said she never would have known about if it weren’t for the Volkssport club.
Lee said attendees do not have to pay, but donations are appreciated. Volkssport participants who collect patches at events pay a small fee. The Northborough walk will begin at Ellsworth McAfee Park at 9:30 a.m., and include a picnic.
For further details, visit www.ava.org/clubs/walknmass or contact Lee at 508-393-2469.
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