The Sunflower Sod Stompers of Topeka, a club of walking explorers, will stomp their way through Great Bend and the Golden Belt May 11-14 in a series of events dubbed “Huffing and Puffing on the High Plains.”
About 45 walkers from around the state and across the country will participate in what is called a “volkswalk,” said Terri Tyler, president of the Topeka group. Over the course of those four days, they will trek in Barton, Ellsworth, Pawnee, Rice and Russell counties, with visits to communities including the county seats.
In all, their travels will take them in and around Lyons, Ellsworth, Great Bend, Ellinwood, Larned, Fort Larned, Russell, Wilson and the Kansas Wetlands Education Center.
“A volkswalk is a leisurely walk through a scenic and/or historic area with a map and/or written directions,” Tyler said. “The walk is non-competitive and the participants can travel at their own pace, thus making this an excellent recreational activity for the entire family.”
The walks are a great way to meet new friends and a fun way for individuals to receive exercise. The walking activity is not connected to any fundraising. While strolling through central Kansas, participants will visit the KWEC, tour the underground tunnels in Ellinwood and stop at various other sites. They will stay in local motels, shop in local businesses and eat in local restaurants, Tyler said.
They are not walking between the towns. The routes vary in length, with 8 miles being the longest.
“These walks will be in smaller Kansas towns focused on agriculture, light industry, mining, and government,” she said. “Each event will be unique with some hidden finds.”
Tyler said her club organizes these walks and invites walkers from around the United States who are either affiliated with another club or just want to take part for fun. They try to coordinate extended weekend events like this in the spring and the fall.
A lot of the participants have a goal to walk in as many American counties as they can, she said. One walker from Arlington, Va., has been to half of the counties in the United States.
“These are counties we haven’t walked in before,” she said. They all have booklets, or passports, where they track the counties as they check them off their lists.
“We are inviting the public to join us,” Tyler said. Just show up at the start point/registration area and pay a $3 registration fee.
The Sod Stompers are affiliated with the American Volkssport Association based in San Antonio, Texas. The volkssport movement started about 45 years ago as American military personnel stationed in Europe took part in walks there and brought it to the United States, Tyler said.
For detailed information, potential walkers can contact Trudy Duffman at firstname.lastname@example.org, Tyler at email@example.com or Sarah Long at firstname.lastname@example.org.