Category Archives: Festival

North American Nordic Walking Expo Schedule

Upcoming Minnesota event features full schedule of speakers, classes and demos

Yesterday I posted a reminder of the second North American Nordic Walking Expo coming up in a bit over two weeks, Saturday, June 12. Now, the Expo schedule has been post online. Click here for start times times of lectures and classes, along with descriptions of who is presenting what. Each one will be 30 minutes long. There will also be demos every 20 minutes — a demo being an opportunity for participants to try out various types of poles and perhaps other gear too. Admission to the Expo is free. Again, if you want more information on participating exhibitors, click here.

Minnesota [Heart} Nordic Walkers

The second annual Expo is coming June 12 — and the second annual We Walk! marathon is past

North American Nordic Walking Expo

The second annual North American Nordic Walking Expo takes place on Saturday, June 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 Hyland Lake Park Preserve in Bloomington, a Twin Cities suburb. Great Lakes Nordic Walkers, an energetic consortium of local instructors and suppliers, and Nordic Walking North America, which organized the first Expo in California last year, have partnered to put on the 2010 Expo. It features an imposing list of exhibitors, including local groups, advocates and national/international Nordic Walking pole makers and even a high-profile shoe company, Skechers. Click on the exhibitor list and then onto the individual links to get an idea of the range represented this year.

This year’s Expo provides an unsurpassed opportunity for Nordic Walking enthusiasts to celebrate their passion, to try new equipment and to get free instruction and coaching from some of the top instructors on the continent. I love the fact that in addition to such long-time pole makers as Exel, LEKI and Swix, such newer, innovative brands as Boomyah and Gymstick are participating.

Tom Rutlin, who was developing Exerstrider poles for fitness walking even before the big European pole-makers brought Nordic Walking poles into the sports and fitness market, is hooking an accelerated Exercise Method Nordic Walking instructor training course onto to Expo weekend. It takes place  the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Bloomington on Sunday June 13, 1:00-5:00 p.m. It will earn new Nordic Walking instructors a Level 1 Certificate and those with prior Nordic Walking instruction certifications or Nordic walking program development experience (like YMCA programs), an Advanced EMNW Instructor certificate. Because of the accelerated format of this training, the fee is just $149 including instructional materials and one pair of OS2 or ACTIVATOR poles or $99 without poles. Space is limited; call 888-285-7392 to register.

We Walk! Marathon

The May 15, the second We Walk! Marathon took place on the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail, an old railbed, between Melrose and St. Joseph wasn’t on my radar screen in advance, or I would have posted news about it. If I had paid closer attention to blogs like Nordic Walk This Way, I would have known ahead of time. The event included  marathon, half marathon and 50km distances and was “created just for walkers by walkers,” according to the organizer, WalkOn! Minnesota, adding, “We welcome all walkers, including, but not limited to, fitness walkers, power walkers, nordic walkers, race walkers, hikers, walk/runners and even, gasp, even ordinary walkers.” Eighty walkers started and all 80 finished, including three Nordic Walkers — all three women and all in the half-marathon distance. Click here for results. They have already announced their next date: May 21, 2011.

Peak District Walking Festival

Upcoming festival merits BBC attention

In advance of the 2010 Peak District Walking Festival, the BBC produced a television segment about Nordic Walking. I had to smile when the announcer said that Nordic Walking “comes from this” as footage of cross-country ski racers was shown. What made me smile is that segment showed most of the the skiers (and all who were right in front of the camera) bent low in an aero-dynamic tuck and not using their poles at all.

Still, the intention was good as a prelude to the five Peak District Walking Festivals that take place this year between Saturday, April 24 and Sunday May 9 with a total of 170 guided walks. There is so much going on — walking with or without poles, caving, climbing and more — that the organizers have put out a 64-page guide that you can look at online. The Peak District National Park’s Losehill Hall Education Centre will be offering Nordic Walking “taster” sessions (i.e., demos). The festival website also includes online walking and cycling routes.

May 2 is Nordic Walking Day — in Ehingen, Germany

Town in Baden-Württemberg might be Germany’s Nordic Walking capital

It gladdens my heart to see great community support for and public participation in Nordic Walking, but it saddens me to know that no place in North America even comes close to Ehingen, Germany. This multi-faceted city in southwestern Germany is historic, health-conscious, sporty and a center of “beer culture” as well as outdoor activities. What a combination. 

Nordic Walking Park

Ehingen has a Nordic Walking park, not just any old place but splendidly located within the Biosphärengebiet Schwäbische Alb, a commendable regional biosphere reserve. As of last May, there were four Nordic Walking routes of different lengths threading through this lovely park. Trails for Nordic Walking and other endurance activities are marked according to level of challenge (above right), much as downhill ski trails are in this country — and in a very orderly German way are even activity-specific. Use of these trails is, of course, free. It is mapped, signed (below) and put to good use. Click here to see a portfolio of images of dedication day of this park.

Nordic Walking Classes

Then there are Nordic Walking classes, given as an intro series of 1 1/2-hour classes beginning in April. Instruction and group Nordic Walks (and also runs) are offered through Lauftreff Ehingen, which translates roughly as “running meeting.” There is a framework for setting goals and recognition for achieving them. If you read German. you know the details, but even if you don’t, just looking at the many words on the topic will indicate that fitness in general and Nordic Walking in particular are taken very seriously in Ehingen.

Nordic Walking Day

And finally, Ehingen hosts an annual Nordic Walking Day (Tag being German for “day”), event scheduled this year for May 2. It’s the sixth annual, according to the poster. Click here for a portfolio of images from a previous Nordic Walking Day (above) and here for images of the “celebration” (yes, that’s what they call it) following it. Various aspects of quality of life count for a lot in Ehingen. I wish I could tell you how many participants there were in 2009.

Distances are 7, 14 and 21 kilometers, plus a short trial session of some sort. Registration is  4€ to 6€, and the registration deadline is April 27. Not that any of us is likely to go flying off to Germany to participate, but I find this event’s excellent organization to be inspiring and a goal for Nordic Walking in North America — maybe by the 22nd century.   

Oh, To Be a Walker in Wales!

Gwynedd plans weeklong festival devoted to walking for health

Gwynedd, a town of fewer than 120,000 souls in beautiful northwest Wales, hosts the inaugural Gwynedd Health Walk Festival from Monday, March 22 through Saturday, March 27. Ten voluntary (i.e., free) groups in communities across the county host regular walks for locals and visitors. For the festival, voluntary walking groups all around Gwynedd have organized walks of various lengths and degrees of challenge. The event concludes on Saturday at Plas Tan y Bwlch, Maentwrog with two events. At 1:30 p.m., a demo (which the Brits call a “taster session”) will give everyone an opportunity to try out Nordic Walking.

Walking groups have been established in nearby towns with such picturesque names as Barmouth, Bethesda, Dolgellau, Y Bala, Nefyn, Penygroes, Porthmadog, Tywyn, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Maesgeirchen. Impractical as it may be, how can you not want to grab your poles and participate?
For more information (or to even book a spot on the final day’s walks, should you be in the area) at Plas Tan y Bwlch, Maentwrog contact Gwynedd Council’s Physical Activity Development Officer, Sharon Jones on 01341 424 410 or email

Walking Week in Wales

Nordic Walking is part of an admirably organized autumn week

As I have admiringly written before, the British countryside from the Isles of Scilly to the Shetlands is criss-crossed with marked walking paths — many of them easily accessible from railroad stations or bus stops, and guided group walks and walking festivals abound. It’s no wonder that people are avid walkers and that Nordic Walking has a real toehold in the walking world.

Coming right up (September 20-27) is the annual Denbighshire Walking Week in Wales — not a specific Nordic Walking week, but a walking week with Nordic Walking as a part. One Nordic Walking-specific event is on the program, but I suspect that many participants will use a single or a pair of trekking poles or Nordic Walking poles whatever they sign up for. When I looked look at the events page of the walking week website, I again admired and envied the organzation. All individual walk listings include degree of distance difficulty, time of day, access to public transportation and whether dogs are permitted. All events are free. Participants are asked to sign up for “fun and fascinating guided walks… including the popular [three-day] Long Distance Challenge and the new Big Hillfort Challenge….The festival also features Nordic Walking at the Alwen.”

Of the specific Nordic Walking event, the website notes: “A Nordic walk around the Alwen, come along and learn the technique to Nordic walking followed by a guided Nordic walk taking in some of the magical countryside. Bring a packed lunch and a drink.” It’s scheduled for five hours. I wish I could be there. Like so many counties in Britain, Wales’s Denbighshire abounds in walking tails — festivals or not — and the county council encourages this healthy and socialable activity.

Upcoming Nordic Walking Events

European & US events lure Nordic Walkers

Details on some of the overseas events are somewhat elusive, but if you’re in the vicinity, do some research:

September 5: The fourth annual Appenzeller Walking Event in the town of Speicher in eastern Switzerland for serious and strictly recreational participants includes the option of three distances (7.2 kilometers, 14.1 km and 25.5 km). If you want to understand how serious the Appenzellers are about Nordic Walking for health and fitness, consider that there are seven Nordic Fitness parks in the canton with 21 marked loop trails each with 11 link trails — 1 marked blue (easy), 1 red (medium) and 1 black (challenging) in terms of length and elevation difference. Speaking of Switzerland, it’s a tad late to sign up for Adventure Women’s hiking/walking/Nordic Walking trip for this year (it’s coming right up on September 4-13), but take a look at the itinerary and consider it for the future.


September 11-13: Here’s what I found on a website called Arrive2 about an upcoming international meeting in Trasimeno region of Umbria in Italy. You have to figure it out: “On the program stand for health in each age as well as meals with national typical specialities beside various Nordic Walking – routes for a risers and geübte runner, warming up gymnastic and night excursions the participation in the conference sport -.With the international Nordic Walking – meeting wants to show Umbrien once more the fact that the region is not only for sportily ambitious guests an ideal destination but likewise with genuine nature, singular art and cultural properties as well as with deliciousnesses from kitchen and cellar to score can.” The post says that there is supposed to be an online registration form at an Umbrian website, but there isn’t.

United States

September 26. The seventh annual American Birkebeiner Trail Run, Trek and Relay in Wisconsin is ever more welcoming to Nordic Walkers. Register for the 5K run/walk or the 21K, a Nordic Walk event added last year. According to Birkie executive director Ned Zuelsdorff, “Nearly 100 walkers participated in this event in its first year and we are expecting even greater participation this year. Nordic walking continues to increase in popularity as people realize the numerous fitness benefits of this great activity.” The Birkie Trek will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Birkie Trail Head (County Highway OO in Seeley) and end at Hatchery Creek Park. As a prelude to the main event, Linda Lemke of Hoigaards will conduct a free Nordic Walking clinic on Friday, September 25, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., with loaner poles available for both the clinic and the Birkie Trek itself. Register online for the event or phone 715-634-5025.

United States

October 3: The 2009 Portland Marathon — the one in Oregon, not Maine — again is the pre-eminent US for Nordic Walkers, with three specific events, the new competitive 5-miler, the fourth Annual Marathon Distance Nordic Walking World Championship and the wonderful 10K Mayor’s Nordic Walk. In order to be judged and to be eligible for the 5-Miler or Marathon Nordic Walking Championships awards, competitors must check in at the Racewalk/Nordic Walk registration table the Expo. Also, participants in the non-competitive fun fitness 10K walk , participants should check in at the Mayor’s Walk Table.

One Way Brand Popping Up on the Net

Finnish heir to Exel poles making news in the Nordic Walking World

First I read an awsome post called “Conquering a 96 km Challenge (Kokoda Gold, Coast)” early this month. The route honors a brutal World War II trek. The blogger, whose name I can’t find on his blog, but who might or might not be affiliated with the Australasian Nordic Walking Academy or something else Down Under, wrote about a four-person team, “Three people in our team carried Nordic Walking poles. I use 120cm One Way Diamond Carbon Mania Max 7, Margaret used 115cm One Way Hope and Nina uses 110cm One Way Mania 600. All of us believe the poles and the correct use of them helped us enormously during this journey.” Check out his Nordic Walking blog for some news from that part of the world and look at some of his Nordic Walking images.

Then read a news item from Cross-Country Skier about a new tie between One Way and the organizers of the iconic Vasaloppet, a major cross-country ski distance race established in 1922: “The Finnish Nordic sports brand One Way and the Swedish Vasaloppet have signed a five-year cooperation agreement concerning promotion and sponsorship for One Way’s sports footwear for cross country skiers and other Nordic athletes. One Way will be the official supplier for all competitions around the Vasaloppet including the new summer events in Nordic walking. [Note that the undscore is mine, just so you don’t miss this]. The Vasaloppet attracts more than 60,000 participants during a week-long series of Nordic skiing events.”

“One Way’s new OW Nordic Sports footwear collection offers a wide range of technical shoes for trail running, Nordic walking, technical winter boots and other multisport uses. The latest highlight is the trail running shoe MORA XCdry with a light, elastic and waterproof upper, combined with a light and flexible trail running sole.”

I read these news items, and it seems that Rossignol might be distributing the One Way pole brand. Unless someone out there can enlighten me, I’ll have to wait to research where One Way is made and which company is distributing it.

Winter Trails Day Reminder

Free snowshoe demos at sites across the country on Saturday, January 12

Just a reminder for anyone interested in snowshoeing that Winter Trails Day is coming up this weekend. The nationwide event for new snowshoers or experienced snowshoers wishing to try out out new equipment is Winter Trails Day 2009 on Saturday January 10.

Click here for a complete list of the 75 or so venues from Maine to Alaska, and from North Carolina to California. To save time on Saturday, print out the registration form that you can find here, fill it out and bring it with you. Winter Trails Day is open to adults and children, so that the entire families can discover this winter activity that crosses the boundaries of age and fitness.

The most equipment, activities, prizes and information will be at the following 10 “anchor sites”:
• Kirkwood XC Ski Area & Snowshoe Center, CA
Echo Lake, CO
Weston Ski Track, MA
Fort Snelling State Park, MN
White Mountain Exploration at Tenney Mountain, NH
Ski Windham, NY
White River Park (Mt. Hood), OR
Liberty Mountain, PA
Soldier Hollow, UT
Mountaineers at Snoqualmie, WA

Also, Rocky Mountain National Park at Estes Park, CO, will again be an additional anchor site on a separate day, February 14 It is traditionally the biggest, busiest Winter Trails Day venue of them all.

Wellness Fests in the West

Western resorts host festivals, with Sun Valley’s including a footrace that welcomes Nordic Walkers

The word “illness” has been in the English vocabulary forever, but “wellness” is newer. It is now understood to encompass a variety of proactive health maintenance habits, spiritualituality and various types of healing. Mysticism, meditation, prayer and other spiritual practices are also components of wellness, as are proper nutrition, exercise and the mind-body-spirit connection.

Ancient Eastern and more recent New Age philosophies and practices are major at the 11th annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival, May 23-26. Admission ranges from $60 for a day pass to $230 for a platinum pass that includes preferred seating to presentations by Dan Millman (The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, A Peaceful Warrior’s Way) and Alberto Villoldo (Courageous Dreaming). Wellness Specialty workshops range from A (Annemarie Holmes on “Earth Spirit Living: Bringing Heaven and Nature into your Home”) to Z (Jamie Zimron on “Golfing Power”) and cost from $20 to $250 (the latter for two golf days).

While yoga, Feldenkrais, Gyrokenesis and the like are featured physicalities at this Idaho festival, Nordic Walking probably should be included as well, because it is such a fitting component of the exercise part of mind-body-spirit. Therefore, of special interest to Nordic Walkers is the concurrent the fourth Annual Sun Valley/Ketchum US Half Marathon. The run/walk event on May 24, starting at the base of Dollar Mountain and following a picturesque 13.1-mile loop course from Sun Valley Village through Elkhorn and Ketchum using much of the Wood River Valley bike path, is open to Nordic Walkers.

Online race registration through May 23 is $25 for 5K, $40 for 12K, $55 for the half-marathon and $5 for the Kids MaraFUN for ages 4-9. Walkers are permitted to use poles, and if they select the half-marathon distance, they must complete it within three hours.The finish line festival will feature music, food and beverages and a race awards ceremony. Runners and walkers are invited to “enjoy a moment of Zen at the Wellness Festival with workshops and products of mind, body, and spirit.” Such a harmonious convergence of two approaches!

Down south in Colorado, the Snowmass Wellness Experience, August 15-17, will cover similar topics — but without the footrace component. It bills itself as “a summer weekend of whole living & wellness” that includes the diverse and holistic fields of nutrition, spirituality, wellness and science. The schedule, list of presenters and costs are not yet available.

The nearby Aspen Center for Integral Health will host a five-part Summer Health Series between June 18 and August 4. The “Mind and Matter: New Discoveries in Mind-Body Connection” will explore new research, innovations and discoveries in the mind, brain and body that illustrate the importance of the mind-body connection in the quest for optimal health that is vitally important to our health as individuals, families and communities. Individual lectures are $10; adding a Meet the Speakers” wine reception following the lecture increases the price tenfold to $100. Summer Series Pass good for all lecture and receptions is $450.