Friday, January 13, 2006

IVV Volksport Marathon vs. a "Real" Marathon

Is running an IVV Volksport marathon the same as running a “real” marathon?

I have been pondering this all week, so I thought I would present it to the RBF for some feedback.

First a little background information:

When I say a "real" marathon I am referring to the typical timed competitive events that most people associate with a marathon.

A volksmarch is a non-competitive walk (10K, 20K, Marathon, 50K), although there are almost always a few people at the events that like to run these. Volksmarching got its name from its origins in Europe. Today there are thousands of volkssport clubs around the world, allied in the International Volksport Federation, the IVV. In the USA there is a daughter organization the AVA (American Volksport Association) and in Canada the CVG (Canadian Volksport Federation).

The AVA states on their website that a volksmarch “Is not a pledge walk, it's not a race, it is a fun activity you do with a club, with your family, with your pet, or all by yourself.” They of course were referring to the 10K event.

I walked (or ran) over 3500 kilometers worth of events back in the 1990’s, it’s a lot of fun and keeps you fit. Lately I have been thinking about using the events as a training aid. In Germany there is almost always a 20K event on the weekend somewhere in my area. The advantage of a volksmarch is that every 5K or so there is a checkpoint with at least water and tea available, and often with food and other drinks (at least in Germany).

There are also over 50 Volksmarching marathons and at least a dozen 50K events offered in Germany every year. I have been seriously considering running one of these. I ran/walked three volksmarch marathons in the mid-1990’s, they are by far more scenic than any “real” marathon that I have run.

I have run two "real" marathons so far, and am training for my third in March. But if you include volksmarch marathons I can add three that I ran/walked in the 1990's and a 50-miler (2 days, 25M/day) from 1986 that I walked to my statistics.

So back to my question, if I run a volksmarch marathon is that the same as running a “real” marathon? In theory the only difference is that there is no official timing of the event or competition to finish first.

I talked to a couple runner's here in Germany and they all said more or less that a volksmarch marathon is not a "real" marathon.

How do you guys feel about this?

you're getting in the area of ultra's. the races at that level are all relative, iirc, and whether or not they're timed or match a specific distance, they're still called ultra's.

i'd say that there's the recognized olympic marathon distance, but i'm not so anal as to say you couldn't refer to those other runs as 'marathons'. it's all relative, really.
If you do the distance, then you've done the distance, IMO. I think the volksmarch distances sound more fun from your description, and that would lure me in!
My way of thinking is the same as Neca. Do the distance and its a marathon as long as you do it on your own two feet.
This sounds like a philosophical question. I think any distance of 26.2 is technically a marathon whether it is officially timed or not. Most clubs like the 50 States club here in the U.S. has certain criteria for an official marathon to be accepted as an official race, such as it has to be advertised and the results need to be posted somewhere. However, I think the volksmarch marathons sound like a great way to get out and do long training runs that are of marathon distance. Whether others consider them to be marathons or not should not take away from the satisfaction of completing them.
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