Phil Jones walks between three and six miles every day.
He laces up his comfortable shoes, takes his wife Beverly by the hand, and sets out on a stroll throughout the scenic – albeit hilly – terrain surrounding their Twain Harte home.
Jones is 71 years old. And as the vice president of the Central Region of the California Volkssport Association, he has no intentions of stopping what has become both a passion and a hobby – allowing him to enjoy meeting new people and see new places from a different perspective.
In a nutshell – he enjoys walking.
“Volkssporting is an opportunity for folks to walk on a regular basis along a prescribed route. It’s not a contest and it’s not a race,” Jones said. “It really does give people the opportunity to walk and talk and carry on conversations while at the same time doing something that’s good for them.
“Our organization doesn’t stress the health benefits, but it’s definitely not bad for you.”
The local Volkssport chapter – the Delta Tule Trekkers – will hold their final meeting of 2011 at Perko’s Café on Monday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.
Started by a group of American soldiers that saw the activity being practiced in Germany, the movement has since grown to include over 300 clubs across the United States. While organized events may seem like a traditional 5 or 10K race, participants simply register and sign a release waiver, and the focus isn’t so much on time as it is on what transpires on the path itself.
Most commonly groups walk 10-kilometer routes (6.2 miles) that have been mapped out in advance – sometimes even set-up where people can go into a participating business, sign the release, get a copy of the map, and then walk the route on their own.
Jones says that he has a group that he walks with on a regular basis, but enjoys meeting new people at events throughout Central California. Walking and talking is what captivated him, but it was looking at things from a slower pace that kept him there.
“A big part of what makes this fun is the friendships. You walk regularly with the same people and you really get to know one another,” he said. “But the other big part is you get to see parts of cities or areas that you wouldn’t normally get to see. There’s all sorts of terrain out there that you don’t get the chance to see in the car.”
With various clubs located throughout the area – each one of them hosting regular sanctioned walks – it’s not difficult, Jones says, to hook up with a group that routinely hits the road and racks up the miles. It’s for all ages, he says, and all ability levels. And even when there’s an event planned for a certain distance, those who want to only go half as far or a distance that they feel comfortable tackling are welcome to do so.
In the end, he says, it’s not about how far you can go or how many miles you’ve logged. It’s the experience.
“The trick is comfortable shoes and an even pace,” Jones said assuredly. “If you can’t keep a conversation going then you’re walking too fast. You have to slow down and enjoy it.”
The Delta Tule Trekkers hold regular walks in the area that are hosted by all. Their meeting at Perko’s – located at 1702 E. Yosemite Ave. – on Dec. 12 will feature a no-host social hour at 6 p.m. and the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. followed by a holiday cookie exchange. For additional information, call 931-1565 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the California Volkssport Association or their chapters, visit www.californiavolkssportassociation.org