Andrews Memorial Chapel, at the entrance to Hammock Park, is one of the many sights along the Dunedin Historic Trail.
DUNEDIN – Temptations may sidetrack some people who take the 6.2-mile Historic Dunedin Stroll.
It could be an ice cream shop, a restaurant. Maybe something simple as a park bench. There are ample opportunities for respite in the noncompetitive sport called volksmarching.
My two brothers, Gerry and Chris Germond, and Chris’s girlfriend, Connie Goodman, went on a 10K volksmarch through Dunedin Nov. 30.
The volkssporting movement began in Germany in 1968 and has spread to about 28 countries worldwide.
Walking is the most popular of all of U.S. volksporting activities and usually involves two kinds of trails, 10 kilometers, 6.2 miles, or 5 kilometers, 3.1 miles.
Gerry had told us about the walk. After signing up at Anytime Fitness on Main Street, we started the route at Mease Dunedin Hospital, aided by maps and directions, shortly after 1 p.m.
Having participated in more than 450 volksmarches since 1978, Gerry is well-versed in the rules and procedures involved. Many participants in the sport, such as my brother, keep record books, earn credits and obtain medals.
Others, like me, just go along for the heck of it.
The walk was designed three years ago by Bonnie Theall, who lives in Dunedin and is a member of the Suncoast Sandpipers, a Pinellas County volkssport organization.
Because a walk was discontinued through the Largo Nature Preserve a few years ago, Theall said that presented an opportunity to start a route through Dunedin.
“We don’t usually have more than 13 walks with our club,” Theall said. “I saw there was an opening and I said let’s get Dunedin in on it, too, because it really has a lot to offer. It’s a pretty little town and I have been here since ’71, and I just really love this town and want to share it with everybody.”
Theall refers to the Historic Dunedin Stroll as “the best of Dunedin.” About 100 people take the walk at their leisure every year.
Learning about volkssporting through a newspaper article, Theall has been participating in the activity since 2002.
Theall, a triathlete, said she was attracted to volksmarching by its 10K trails and walks all over the world.
“When I go someplace, I can pick up a walk or do a run, whatever,” she said.
The first part of the walk took us through quiet residential areas of Dunedin, along Bass Boulevard, San Christopher Drive and Patricia Avenue. The sidewalk ended, and we veered left onto a shell driveway leading us to Hammock Park, 90 acres of woodlands that should appeal to anyone who likes to wander off the beaten path.
We stopped briefly at Andrew’s Memorial Church then proceeded to Douglas Avenue. I surmised that we were halfway there. As we started heading south, and I began to think about how I would reward myself for my effort that day – a cold beer for starters.
Eventually, we made our way to the Pinellas Trail, where we walked by several homes adorned to greet people who use the trail.
“See Rock City,” said a yard decoration.
Maybe some day, I thought. At that moment I was more intent on seeing the Dunedin Brewery.
We continued on our walk to Weaver Park, taking in the aroma of cookouts, and headed across Alt. U.S. 19 to Victoria Drive. This was unchartered territory for me. I’ve been to Dunedin many times in the past eight years, but never have I walked along Victoria, which offered splendid views of St. Joseph’s Sound and stately, well-landscaped architecture.
We headed south to Edgewater Park and then walked along Edgewater Drive, past the Fenway hotel, before turning east through more residential areas to Douglas Avenue and the Hale Senior Activity Center. The last leg took us to Main Street, brimming with activity on a cool afternoon.
Theall said when she designed the course, she ended the walk downtown in case people wanted to stop at a restaurant for lunch or dinner.
Also near the end of the walk are the Dunedin Historical Museum and the National Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Museum.
Our journey ended at the starting point – the hospital.
All was well. Plenty of time to head back downtown for a beer and a bite to eat.
And nobody complained that they needed to go inside the hospital.