Club president keeps on walking

January 13, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - As president of the Cumberland Valley Lead Foot Club, Frances Humelsine likes to go the extra mile.

Unlike the club's name suggests, Humelsine, 62, of East King Street, isn't a fast driver. She's logged the miles on foot.

"I enjoy it," Humelsine said. "I feel better when I walk."

This is not a stroll to the corner store. Humelsine's walks are more like 10-kilometer courses she finishes in under two hours. Since she joined the walking club in 1983, Humelsine's walked in every state but Hawaii, adding up to over 8,000 kilometers and wearing out several pairs of sneakers.

"Oh, I probably go through about three pairs a year," Humelsine said, showing off a new pair of black walking sneakers.


The idea of the walking club originated in Germany and was established in this country as the American Volksmarch Association (AVA), based in Universal City, Texas. The national non-profit organization sanctions walks held by state and regional clubs, like Cumberland Valley, and publishes brochures, maps, guides and books of the thousands of walks held each year. There is also an International Volksmarch Association.

After completing an AVA-sponsored walk, participants get their event and distance log books stamped to keep an ongoing record and proof of where they've been and how far they've gone. Walkers can earn patches, pins and medals after completing a course or for earned kilometers.

"The goal is to see how much you can walk," Humelsine said, who knows some club members who've walked in all 50 states at least once and are doing it again.

To keep it interesting, most clubs sponsor different kinds of walks. The 45-member Cumberland Valley club holds four big walking events around the region each year including 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer courses. The walks often attract as many as 500 people and proceeds often go to charities or special causes. The club also schedules evening walks, guided walks on Sunday afternoons, and a Christmas walk, Humelsine said.

The most faithful members walk in any and every kind of weather, Humelsine said, who's been soaked by rain, saturated in sweat, sunburned and nearly frozen in ice and snow. But Humelsine said she most remembers the mountain views, sunsets, quaint towns and green countrysides on her walks.

"We've been to a lot of different places," she said.

A retired first grade teacher for 38 years, Humelsine said she began walking regularly in 1979 when her son went to college. She soon involved her husband, Jim, and walking became a daily routine. It wasn't long before Humelsine said she noticed she had lost weight and walked herself into good shape. Soon after, the couple joined the club together.

"When we first got into it we were really walking. My husband and I often did 20 kilometers a day," Humelsine said.

Besides the health benefits and scenery, Humelsine said walking has also served as a sort of therapy since her husband's sudden death a little over a year ago at the age of 58. She usually walks alone three miles every day outside or on the treadmill at the local gym. Humelsine also agreed to take over her husband's term as president of the club, which he held for three years.

"It's not as much fun not having him," Humelsine said, adding that Jim had only four states to walk in before completing all 50.

But Humelsine said she constantly meets new people through the walking club and fondly recalls a trip last year with five other women. The group started with a walk in South Dakota and ended up completing 14 courses in eight states in 10 days.

"We had a lot of fun," she said, smiling.

Anyone interested in joining the club can cal Humelsine at 1-717-263-8633

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