The 4 Day Marches, Vierdaagse in Dutch, is a 100 mile long march spread over 4 days and each day 25 miles are walked on average.
However, it is a lot more than just a walk. In the Netherlands it is treated as a 1 week festival full of partying and enjoyment. This can be clearly seen from the sheer amount of people who participate and spectate the event.
This year over 40,000 people participated in the marches this year and many more people came to view it.
This is one of the reasons the Nijmegen marches are greatly preferred over the local 50 mile RAFWARMA marches. Although the distance is much longer, the party atmosphere will always keep you going. The reward for completing The Nijmegen Marches is everyone’s favourite part as it can only be described as pretty, The Golden Cross.
As you can imagine, Nijmegen is a very physically demanding challenge and as a result it requires a lot of preparation. As a result Middlesex wing conducts numerous training walks before the event in order for cadets to be physically prepared. These training walks vary from 18 to 26 miles in length and alone are quite challenging. After this we complete a 2 day 50 mile event such as RAFWARMA or the LaSER marches, both of which are also accompanied with extravagant medals.
The location at which the Nijmegen walks would start was Kamp Heumensoord, just outside Nijmegen City, a site setup every year just for the military marchers. Several parades and ceremonial events took place before the walk started. The opening flag raising ceremony involved several cadets of the Middlesex marching team and saw the raising of several flags including many European countries, USA, Russia, South Africa and Australia. Later in the afternoon there was to be a 5km march into Nijmegen Centrum to the starting point of the civilian marchers in which a Middlesex cadet carried the British flag representing the entire British Military Contingent and the mayor gave a speech, officially beginning the Nijmegen festival.
Two cadets from Middlesex Wing took part in the Canadian war memorial ceremony in which the entire Canadian contingent paid their respects to those who lost their lives in Operation Market Garden 75 years ago.
Day 1 of Nijmegen was 43km with an especially early start, a relatively tough 1st day for most of the team although we prevailed, despite having particularly annoying flags.
Day 2 of the Nijmegen march was 37km, despite being less in distance the day was still challenging.
Day 3 was at 40km and proved tough as the temperatures increased as we were walking.
We had the opportunity to pay our respects to the fallen soldiers many times during the walks and on the second day there was a small ceremony at the location of the crash landing of a Lancaster bomber that fell and took all but 1 of its crew with it.
The 4th and last day of Vierdaagse was extremely tough, many of us were tired and accumulated nasty injuries during the week. At 45km and temperatures reaching the high 20s; as we reached Charlemagne (5km from finish) we had to walk to Nijmegen Centrum with the rest of the British Military Contingent. Upon finishing many of us were exhausted and a well deserved rest awaited us.
I’m happy to say our entire team finished the walk even if it wasn’t in the greatest of shapes, however, we were all delighted and proud of our tremendous achievement.
Written By Cpl Nwosu and St. Eldridge