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The Nijmegen Marches – Nik and Carol’s fabulous adventure!

Marching 160km’s or 100 miles in 4 days sounds madness to most people but if I say how about a 4 day party, free music, free drink (non-alcoholic of course), free food and the total friendliness from the people of Holland then maybe I’ve now got your attention!!

Marching 160km’s or 100 miles in 4 days sounds madness to most people but if I say how about a 4 day party, free music, free drink (non-alcoholic of course), free food and the total friendliness from the people of Holland then maybe I’ve now got your attention!!

Having already completed various challenges ranging from 40k to 100km my partner and I were a little worried about doing 4 days in a row at 40km each day. We needn’t have been. It turned out to be a fantastic event we will always remember.

Yes, walking 40km a day for 4 days is a trial and needs to be taken seriously, a lot of training must take place for many weeks before hand if you hope to complete the challenge. Oh, and don’t forget one or 2 pairs of trainers or good walking boots!
We signed up for the Nijmegen Marches with Walk the Walk many months before the event. Our very good friends at WTW – Eppy and Kate – made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.

So on Sunday, 13th July we arrived in Holland and after a couple of short train journeys (their trains are great – 2 floors!!) and even a shorter bus ride we arrived at Hotel de Bilderberg, a lovely hotel set in very relaxing gardens, the place WTW had booked in for us and the Nijmegen Team just a few miles outside of Nijmegen itself.

Eppy and Kate were already there and after hi’s and hugs and a much needed bevy we awaited the arrival of the rest of the team.

We had never met the other 8 members (12 in all) but had had many an email exchange with them all over the last few months so felt we already knew them very well.
It was great as they arrived with a lot more hi’s and hugs all round. Later we all got together in a very cosy room in the hotel to exchange stories and talk about the forth coming event. Led by Eppy, Kate and Jen (our WTW “manager” for the event) we very soon got to know all about each other and how we all ended up here for this mammoth trail of walking 40km’s a day for 4 days!!

On Monday we all travelled in to Nijmegen on the WTW mini bus for our first view of the city and the square where we would be setting off each morning at 5am for our 40km walk. The place was alive and buzzing, hundreds of people doing what we were doing, bands playing, people dancing, eating, drinking and having fun and all getting ready for the event of the year, The Nijmegen Marches !!

Jen soon got us all signed in and with ID tags received (don’t lose these) we set off for a mini tour of the surrounding square and nearby streets, a must for all visitors.
Very soon we were back at our hotel, a good hearty early evening meal and then early to bed – tomorrow was day 1!!

At 5am the next morning “Team Nijmegen” was ready at the start, 12 jittery and nervous walkers but also a very excited team. The place was alive with well wishers, families, friends and loved ones. As we crossed the start line the cheers echoed around the square and along the streets. We were met with high 5’s, pats on the back, shaking our hands and all to the cries of good luck, success, you can do it!!

It was an incredible moving experience and something none of us were prepared for but something we will never forget and this was only day 1 !!

I haven’t the space to write about every mile (or kilometre) we walked but suffice to say it carried on as it started. The people of Holland are absolutely magic and they make the walk an entirely magical experience.

The towns, villages, hamlets, the small roads and the large, the pathways and walkways are lined with people cheering, clapping, and waving. Music playing on loud speakers, live bands of every description playing all day long as over 43,000 walkers pass by hour after hour. There is mile after mile of decorated streets, houses and shops. Many well wishers themselves dress up and party all day long.

As our team walked on we were drawn into the excitement and soon found ourselves singing along with other walkers and marchers, many of them being from countries and armies from all over the world, from the young cadets to seasoned soldiers or just ordinary people like us.

And so, after 40km’s we arrived back into the square for a much sought after rest and drink before heading back to the hotel, a swim, a most welcoming massage, our evening meal and a couple of drinks while we reminisced about our first day.

Day 2, 3 and 4 were just as great, just as exciting and just as fun. Did we get tired, did our feet hurt, and did our muscles ache? Yes, of course!! We all suffered some of that but wewere determined to finish and the magical people of Nijmegen and Holland made that happen. We met many other teams’ en-route who quickly became “marching buddies”. We learnt their marching songs and sang along with them as we ate up the miles. Bumping into a local radio presenter and reporter from Nijmegen news turned to our favour, after exchanging t-shirts and stories we had a slot on their news and a picture in the local rag. We met so many wonderful people in those 4 glorious days!

Day 4 was of course just that little bit different. The last few km’s were totally unbelievable “via gladiola” as it is named. We walked on in triumph to the finish line to collect our medals, “Vierdaagskruis” (the four days medal) for proven marching ability! We felt like heroes, we had done it !! 160km’s in 4 days, a truly unforgettable experience and for a very worthwhile cause – to raise awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer.

Our intrepid team consisted of 2 Walk the Walk employees, Eppy and Kate, myself (Nik, the only male in the team), my partner Carole, and of course our 8 newly found friends, Christine, Pat, Billie, Nicki, Lily, Elizabeth, Jo, Alina and our non-walker WTW Jen (whom we couldn’t have done it without you).

Why don’t you come with us next time for an experience of a lifetime?
Nik and Carole xx

 

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