Preparations are being made in Wellingborough to make this year’s Waendel Walk the biggest yet.
The prestigious event takes place from 8 to 10 May and more than 5,000 people are expected to take part, with walkers coming from as far away as Japan, America and Australia.
This year, organisers are also planning special walks and giving away goody bags to encourage children to join in.
Youngsters signing up to the 5km walk on the Friday evening will join Simba the Lion in discovering a new heritage trail and earning a limited edition medal; and all children taking part in any of the walks over the Saturday and Sunday will be given a pedometer to record their steps and gain entry into the Waendel Walk of Fame.
Julia Wells, events officer at Wellingborough Council, said: "This is a big year for Waendel. It’s the 25th anniversary of us joining the International Marching League, which is when we became a truly worldwide event. We’ve also got loads of new activities planned, particularly aimed at getting more children to join us.until Thursday 7 May, after which people will have to register in the main hall of The Castle.
"We’ve already had more than 1,000 people sign up online, and we’re expecting thousands more to take part.
"Waendel is a chance for us to show our borough off to the rest of the world, so it’s important we get it right. People who take part always say how much they enjoy it, and that’s not only because the walks take them through the beautiful countryside we have here in Wellingborough, but also because they’re safe and very professionally organised. We’re incredibly proud of the reputation the International Waendel Walk has all over the world."
With just two weeks to go, the final flurry of organisation is taking place, as route maps are printed, signs and flags are ready to go up, and road closures have been agreed.
Julia Wells said: "The Waendel Walk takes months of planning, in fact we start thinking about the next year’s event as soon as this one has finished. But it’s this last couple of weeks when everything really steps up a gear, and we go through every detail to make sure it’s all perfect.
"Hundreds and hundreds of miles have been clocked up as every single route has been walked and re-walked.
"We have a brilliant group of volunteers and we couldn’t do it without their help. From people checking the routes, to offering first aid during the weekend, and even cooking breakfast for the campers at Redwell, they are a truly amazing group and it’s down to them that the event is always such a success."
The Waendel Walk, the only event of its kind in the UK, kicks off this year on the evening of Friday 8 May with the two friendship walks of 5km and 10km. They are followed by a weekend of different routes throughout the borough ranging from 5km up to a marathon-distance 42km. Entry to the walks starts at just £1.
Pre-booking to take part is cheaper and avoids queuing on the day. It is available at The Castle’s website.