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My Nijmegen 2018

After 35km of even more party and carnival atmosphere, we are closing in on the finishing line! We are greeted by an amazing sight of grandstands filled with people bystanders lining the route for the last 5k.

Over the years I have taken part in various events for Walk the Walk. From half marathons to 100k events such as the Thames Path and the London 2 Brighton Challenges. I had always looked at the Nijmegen Marches but didn’t feel capable of walking four marathons over four days.

At the beginning of the year, I decided I would at least walk 1000 miles in a year.
Then I received an email from a friend and fellow Walk the Walker to tell me her breast cancer was secondary, she was so positive about it all and it certainly hit some of us hard.

That evening whilst searching the Walk the Walk challenge site I noticed that the Nijmegen challenge was open. With one quick word with the Hubby and I was signed up with another Walk the Walker, Julie, flights and hotel booked within the hour.

Then the Training Plan turned up in the post and I must admit panic set in!
Ok, I told myself one day then one week at a time. Looking at the plan I knew if I could try and stick to it I would reap the benefits and hopefully get through the challenge. I won’t lie it’s a tough plan but with support from Roger and another friend Toni I managed to get the training in and in all weathers from icy January through cold February, snowy March and into a hot May, we trudged the roads around home. I wore in two pairs of the same make and model of trainers and I had also worked out that doing other events could help take the boredom away of just walking on my own. So I signed up to do London 2 Brighton which I knew I would have to do some long training walks for. I also did The MoonWalk London as part of my training. Having the company and meeting up with fellow Walk the Walkers certainly helped me.

My Fundraising consisted of a quiz night, a bit of sponsorship from friends, selling items at a car boot, a coffee morning, holding a local West Sussex sports tournament called stool ball and a day rattling a bucket outside Tesco.

Sunday

The day had arrived for Julie and I to travel to Southampton airport for our flight to Amsterdam, it all seems a little bit scary not knowing what lies await for us. Julie and I decided beforehand to stopover in Amsterdam before going onto Nijmegen. We really enjoyed Amsterdam and meeting up with Andy, Ann and Stella from the Walk the Walk family, I certainly recommend making the visit.

Monday

After a warm welcome from the WTW staff at our hotel, we traveled to Nijmegen for the first time to get registered. It is now that we get the whole scale of the event, we are all given our yellow wristbands and feel we are part of an all-inclusive holiday club, ha ha then we go and soak up the atmosphere before having dinner together.

Tuesday

Early start today, in fact 2.30am, and I’m very apprehensive. We made our way to have a quick breakfast although I didn’t feel like eating at that time I knew I had to fuel up for the day ahead. It was warm outside with no rain forecast. The bus ride into Nijmegen was very quiet as by then most of us are realising what lies ahead. As we leave the bus all you can hear is, the best I can describe, was a noise of a massive party or a big football match.

We moved forward surround by masses of fellow walkers, our team members were counted in. As we crossed the start line at 4.30am the noise was overwhelming as the mass of supporters cheered and “high fived” us all. Wow what a start to our day! We soon got into striding at our own pace and I then started to realise looking around that supporters had brought out their sofas chairs, tables, music systems and put them on the pavement and just kept on cheering everyone who would pass.

Bunting was hung from every house very loud music playing all day long, no cars on the roads just 47,000 people walking, I looked around in awe in what I was seeing. The military teams joined us after a few miles and soon started singing their marching songs with each different team taking over the chanting once a team had finished.

I felt truly humbled to be walking alongside them. During the day we have to go through random checkpoints as a team and at each checkpoint we are counted in before being allowed to continue. During the day we would stop for our water and food breaks and before we know it we are back in Nijmegen having completed our first 40k. Then it was off to the bar for a well-deserved beer and chips which is a tradition we all quickly took too. We sat on long benches discussing our day and all the songs that had been sung while large brass bands would play.

Once back at the hotel it was a quick ice bath, yes that’s right if you wanted one, food then a most welcome massage.

Then it's off to bed ready for the next day.

Wednesday/Thursday

Early starts again and now we all knew what was waiting for us.
A different route each day but the same welcome from all the villages along them and still more partying from the supporters, I’m sure each village tries to outdo the other. Children line the streets offering everything from fruit to ice lollies which we happily take. More military teams march with us all still chanting their marching songs.

Another two 40ks done and once again we end up with the traditional beer and chips.

Friday

Todays the day we finally achieve what we set out to do, 4 marathons in 4 days. Everyone on the bus is on a big high. This will be the last time we leave the start line. After 35km of even more party and carnival atmosphere, we are closing in on the Finish Line! We are greeted by an amazing sight of grandstands filled with people bystanders lining the route for the last 5k.

This final leg of our walk is along what’s known locally as the “via gladioli” and we are all given stems of gladioli to carry through the Finish Line. There is hardly room to walk as so many people want to congratulate us. There are even more brass bands playing now and the noise is deafening. Crossing the Finish Line I will admit I did shed a few tears knowing what I had achieved and what an amazing event I had the honour of being part of.

The comradeship I encountered that week was unbelievable, we cried together but we certainly laughed a lot more and I have not belly laughed like I did that week for a long time.

Yes, it’s hard the event itself and the training, but put in the training and anyone can do this event.

Ask me if I would do it again… HELL YES!!!!!! - Jane

Do you want to be part of the Walk the Walk Nijmegen Marches Team in 2019? Register your Interest now! 

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