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Nijmegen Marches 2014 – Pat’s amazing experience!

The support from the Dutch villagers was second to none…bands, music, sweets, snacks, drinking water – all available. Everyone who had walked before tried to explain the atmosphere…the only comparison I can think of is Carnival Day in the UK.

At the beginning of the year did I plan on walking the Nijmegen Marches…no I didn’t…I knew I wanted to walk them one day but had no plans to walk them in 2014. I had already signed up to walk London to Brighton (my first 100k walk) and with the training that involved I thought that that would be enough for the year (including London and Edinburgh Moonwalks). Circumstances resulted in me having some spare “holiday” and well what else can a girl do but walk…

It was a big decision…could I undertake Nijmegen as well as L2B…after all I am no spring chicken? Walk the Walk put me in touch with someone who had previously walked both; she gave me sound advice and I suddenly found that L2B almost became a training walk for Nijmegen!!!

Once the decision was made WTW then informed us that the organisers were stipulating that we would have to walk as a group…that meant walking together for all 4 days…and therefore having to walk at the same pace!! As you can imagine there was significant e-mail trail…but the decision was YES we would walk as a group and go at the slowest pace.

Suddenly it was July and we were off to Holland…great excitement and at the same time fear!!!

First step was to meet everyone else…we were due to walk as a group of 11 women and one man (including the wonderful Kate and Eppy) all supported by the ever-enthusiastic Jen. A visit to Nijmegen to register the team was our first priority…with 40,000 walkers I had visions of major queues…but Eppy and Kate went straight to the desk and it took all of 10 minutes for us to be registered…no going back now!!!

Day 1 – the alarm went off at 3am (2am in the UK)…were we mad??? Great excitement we really were about to start 4 days of walking 40k/25miles a day.

First observation…where did all the supporters come from at the beginning?…students still out from the night before…

5am and we were off…along with soldiers, police, etc….it might have been early but at least the legs were fresh.

Day 1 showed just how much we were going to have to work hard to all walk together – different length of legs; different speeds; different stamina…all played their part; however despite this the team spirit we built up was wonderful. The photos speak for themselves…a great deal of laughing and smiling.

The support from the Dutch villagers was second to none…bands, music, sweets, snacks, drinking water – all available. Everyone who had walked before tried to explain the atmosphere…the only comparison I can think of is Carnival Day in the UK.

Along the way we met marching soldiers and cadets; UK Police – both the Metropolitan and Devon and Cornwall; as well as some Dutch Police. Some members decided to join the military in a dying fly pose….

Day 1 was completed in just under 8 hours…feet a bit sore but no blisters.

Day 2 –…and so the alarm at 3am…and so the party continued…more high flving with students @ 5am. My big issue of the day was a single blister on my big toe…where did that come from??? A quick bit of first aid by the side of the road by a medic and we were off again.

Toward the end of the walk we were stopped and interviewed by a local news reporter…photos of the team taken.
Day 2 completed in 8 ½ hours

Day 3 – and the alarm at 3am again…we were warned this would be the hardest day…don’t believe anyone who says there are no hills in Holland…there are! They may not be the biggest ones but they are there; the weather was also starting to heat up.

We were told we had made the local paper – and we became known as the ‘Bra Girls and Man”
This was my hardest day…I had been going though some tough personal times and found myself walking in floods of tears…however just when I was at my lowest the wonderful WTW team members were there at my side…helping me through every step.
Day 3 completed in 8 hrs 10 minutes…pretty consistent pace.

Day 4 – Today’s alarm…2:30!!!! Forecast for the day was 35 degree heat!! We were allowed to start earlier at 4:45 in an attempt to beat the heat.

The day was understandably more subdued due to the air disaster of the Malaysian aeroplane that had taken off from Schipol airport the day before…the military had been asked not to sing their marching songs and there was very little music along the way – all in respect of the loss of life.

The “via Gladioli”…the final walk back into Nijmegen…was really long. We were finishing 4 days walking in 32 degree heat with the sun directly on the back of our heads…I really struggled in the heat…but the Dutch people had hose pipes set up as showers and massive buckets of water to help us.

We crossed the line together…just over 9 hours.

4 days of walking 25 miles a day…4 days of tears…4 days of blisters…4 days of laughing and smiling…

Not only had I walked 100 miles over 4 days…I had walked 800 miles since the beginning of the year…another record for me!!

If you like walking and want something to challenge you…then Nijmegen is a must.

Would I do it again…most definitely!!!

– The friendly Dutch people
– Believe it or not…the toilets!! With 40,000 people walking how did they keep them so clean and with very short queues?
– The fun of walking in a group and having that support there when it was needed.
– The police, cadets, soldiers that we met…some every day
– Completing 100 miles over 4 days
– Breaking 800 miles walked so far this year (my furthest in a whole year was 750 in2013)


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