Year-long walk route provides free entertainment

PLYMOUTH — The box of directions and maps is sitting on top of the coat rack at Christos’ Family Dining, just waiting for someone looking for an adventure.
Walking the Lincoln Highway, sponsored by the Indiana Volkssport Association (part of the larger American Volkssport Association or AVA) is a group of five different walking routes (chose from 5K or 10K) in Valparaiso, Warsaw, Columbia City, Fort Wayne and Plymouth.
The Plymouth starting point is at Christos’, where participants can pick up instructions and maps free of charge. The route goes through Centennial Park, crosses the Yellow River, continues past Plymouth High School and onto Lincoln Highway before heading to downtown Plymouth and finally back to Christos’. Along the way, walkers can fill out the answers to trivia questions and look for historical landmarks.
Margaret Lightner of South Bend said that she and her husband Charlie, who maintains the Plymouth walking site, first began going on AVA walks about three years ago.
“It’s good, cheap entertainment and it’s a wonderful way to see the country,” said Lightner. “We’ve walked more than 1,000K in the last three years!”
The AVA’s purpose is to provide a fun and interesting way for people to get their exercise. The walks can be completed by people of any age or physical ability and they are noncompetitive, done at the individual’s preferred pace. Start cards are filled out at the beginning, and participants can choose to get credit for each walk they complete and put that credit toward a badge when all five walks are completed. Credit is $3 and the patch costs $7.
However, people simply interested in walking without keeping score can do so for free.
The AVA website, www.ava.org, lists walking clubs in every state. All the walks are do-it-yourself with a specific starting point, route, and ending point.
The Plymouth walk just opened in January 2011, and will remain open for the next two years according to Lightner.
“We may continue doing it depending on interest,” said Lightner.
Since the walk opened, 51 people have walked it, according to the sign-in log at Christos’.
“It’s social, it’s exercise… I think there are a lot of benefits to it,” said Lightner.
For more information about the Plymouth AVA walk, contact Charlie Lightner, 574-299-1270.