For nearly four decades, the Falcon Wanderers walking club has sponsored free public walks in the effort to get Pikes Peak area residents outside and exercising.
Now, 38 years after the club was chartered as a nonprofit member of the American Volkssport Association (AVA), its members are celebrating that anniversary in a meaningful way — with a free public walk at the United States Air Force Academy, the same location where the club had its initial walk in 1981.
The non-competitive walk on Saturday promises fun, fitness and friendship, and offers 5K and 10K routes that will include trails that are mostly dirt trails, roadsides and service roads.
“This is an excellent chance for a family outing,” said Curt Converse, a club spokesman who’s been a member for about 28 years. In total, he’s been walking for 32 years.
Volkssporting, literally translated to “sport of the people,” are organized and non-competitive sports events appealing to people of all ages, according to the Falcon Wanderers website. It became popular around 1968 in Europe and spilled to America in 1976, Converse said. When the Falcon Wanderers club was chartered it was the second Colorado club and the 72nd to join the AVA.
Today, there are about 250 AVA clubs, and the Falcon Wanderers Club boasts 250 members. The Falcon Wanderers host traditional walks as well as seasonal year-round events, and members have the option to track their miles through a specialized app for a nominal fee, Converse said. Patches and pins are given to walkers who reach milestones.
Converse said he and his wife, Jan, the club’s president, got started walking around 1987 because they were looking for ways to get out of the house and spend time with their two daughters, who at the time were 4 and 6 1/2. They started at Fox Run Park and have been walking ever since, participating in national AVA conventions across the country and tracking their miles.
“It’s a nice way to get out and get away from the TV. … We had visited (and walked in) 37 states by the time (my daughters) were in junior high,” Converse said.
Saturday’s walks will begin and end at the academy’s FamCamp Picnic Area No. 2. The 5k is rated a 1B — an easy walk with some uneven terrain — and the 10k is rated a 3B — a moderate walk with uneven terrain and some steps up and down. Strollers may walk on the 5k trail, but wheelchairs cannot complete these events.
Walk start times are between 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Walkers walk at their own pace, but should plan to finish no later than 3:30 p.m.
Leashed pets are welcome, and pet owners are responsible for picking up after their animal(s). This is an IVV credit only walk.
For more information on Saturday’s anniversary walk, contact Converse at 591-8193. For more information on the Falcon Wanderers Club, visit falconwanderers.org.
Please note: public access to the USAFA begins at 9 a.m. through the North Gate entrance only.