The 4 Day Nijmegen March and how to accomplish it.

~200 Kilometers to the finish~

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~Marching buddies~

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Roomate, Peter - who was roomed in the same home with me (as organized by the 4 Day Marches.)
Peter is Dutch and this was his 8th march, he was very fast, far better at it than me.
We started each day together having breakfast and coffee with our host and ended each day together getting dinner in town.

Peter suggested this Chinese restaurant to have our closing celebration dinner with beer. (no beer during the event.) The ironic thing is, after sitting down to eat...

I suddenly realized this is very the same place, that our 66th Maintenance Battalion Army marching team leader took us to eat, 25 years earlier!! I recognized the place by the unique window shapes.
I never forgot how good the food was there, what a great victory dinner we had there, coming in first for the USA!

~One day at a time~

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Day #1 Ken & Dorthe walked with me for a while on the starting day just after sunrise. Like me, Ken had won both types of Nijmegen medals...Marcher/Supporter, except he got his Supporters Medal supporting his daughters through the march, not as a military bicycle orderly, thus sacrificing his '4 Day Cross' to help his kids.
They also walked the 100 kilometer, 24 hour, 1 day Belgian "Death march." (ouch!) Don't think I could do that one!

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Day #2, Anna & Tilde kept me company for a few hours on one of the 4 days, it does make time go faster meeting people. This was these ladies first 4 day march.

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Day #3, Marco was great with his full understanding of the entire day 3 route, he was calling out terrain features before we even got there...Was great to have someone to talk to through 7 hours of rain. He spoke Dutch, (a local resident) and arranged a nice coffee break for us with some spectators at the peak of the '7 hills.' That was great!
Right after this picture was taken, the 92 year old participant walked by, he was over double my age!

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Day #4, Janine walked with me and shared a couple hours with me on day 4, we were both feeling the distance...wears on you in the hot sun, all day every day. She was there when I finished and welcomed & congratulated me like a Dutch lady, with the triple cheek kiss...nice ending to it after being handed the medal.

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Janine moves on ahead as an experienced marcher, this being my first time...I need to pace myself and my finishing times were very consistent each day...about 11 hours and 20 minutes.

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Day #1-4, All around you could see friends joining alongside marchers to lend support...the distance is very long.

~The Event~
Here are numerous pictures along the way to remember the event at several stages...

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The first thing to do when arriving in town is to get your registration completed at the desk you are assigned to. This is where you get your bar code card and daily punch card. A very organized process. I was to report to 50-N at the close of each day and pick up my punch card for the next day. On the last day, your completed punch card gets you the 4 Day Cross Medal.

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Many of the same people come back to Nijmegen year after year and meet up with old friends from around the globe. They are so comfortable and familiar with the march having done it so many times, that they frequently stop and order lunch at a restaurant on the way and have a beer. Most wear 10 year or greater medals. You get a different medal each year you march to make it obvious at a glance how many times you finished and as an incentive with continued rewards.

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The Waal Bridge in the background as the Summerfest Fireworks display takes place on day #1

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The Summerfest is filled with a carnival, live music, beer tents and fresh cooked food...very fun. Best enjoyed the night you arrive before walking becomes painful. Have your beer the day before and the night after the march because drinking during the march may lead to sidelining muscle cramps and overheating.

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Everyone is having fun and the locals are amazed so many people want to challenge themselves to walk 200 kilometers. Quite a conversation topic...some think you're ambitious are impressed and others think 'Why do that to yourself? I'd never do that!" These girls on their night out having fun were fully supportive.

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Live music band stands were spread throughout the city (7+), very energetic crowds all around, all you could here was rock music wherever you went. Dutch people loved classic rock.

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College students party around the clock wishing you success and cheering you on, making human arches to walk through and being quite entertaining.

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Starting on day 1 at 04:00AM in the morning, not easy to get up so early. Long day ahead...11:30 hours of walking.

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We started each morning at 04:00AM, requiring a 02:30 wake up call. Not easy to wake up so early after a difficult day previously in 90+ degree heat or 7 hours of rain. However, all was forgotten when fun Dutch college girls were right there at the starting line being cheerleaders and forming support archways. Great start to the day!

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Everyone in the local communities are up just as early as the walkers and out there supporting them.

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As you head out into the countryside, you see the typical sights you would associate with Holland, like windmills and one man even walks the 200 kilometers annually wearing wooden shoes! He is talked about by all, few could complete the event with no socks and no cushioning shoes.

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We passed by numerous farming areas, horses were everywhere and had lots of space. Are these Shires?

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As we walked 50 kilometers we passed numerous small picturesque towns all day long for 11 hours.

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Dutch women, fun and beautiful, were all cheering us on, then some guy got them with a squirt gun minuters later.

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We also passed several small harbors in nice villiages, but with no time to stop since we had 30 miles to walk each day.

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Winding through numerous small towns, each one with enthusiastic support and different brick/stone surface.

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We crossed the famous River Waal Bridge as seen in the movie "A Bridge too Far." with Robert Redford.

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The brick streets are different than the surfaces here, while quite even, a little harder on your feet than asphalt.

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I met some nice Dutch ladies to walk with for the greater part of one day during the marches, that made it go fast.

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Kids support local family for distances, then go back...it's not easy doing this distance alone.

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You need at least a 20 ounce canteen to cope with several large isolated expanses with no water sources.

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Areas to rest and stretch were always welcome after these long expanses which often took many hours to cross.

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We all saw and heard the storm brewing, soon it was over us, umbrellas all ready as we passed through villiages.

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Everybody still wearing ponchos from the rainfall, was a real soaker for hours, that doesn't keep them away.

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Dutch children line the route & show support offering "high -5's," food, drink, cheers or collect stickers from soldiers.

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Between towns the residents rode their bikes and found places to watch the thousands of walkers file past.

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All forms of advertising, radio, television and photographers were present to meet the marchers along the way.

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Norwegians were really fast in the event...there was no way to keep up with them. See the flag ahead?

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Along the 50 kilometer path daily, it's helps to talk to other marchers during the 11+ hour walk. Here I am speaking with a German Lawyer, 50km marcher after day 2, sharing stories and care methods to make it to the finish.

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The locals love the event and cheer you on every step of the way. They offer free food and drink continuously and play live music for over half the route. Very nice support for a century long tradition. In this economy, the event must bring in at least a billion Euros into Nijmegen each year since 1.8 million people are in town to celebrate Summerfest for an entire week.

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A beautiful sight...the sign saying in Dutch "4 Day Walker Proficient!" you made it and got your medal!

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And...the most beautiful sight of them all...the FINISH line! Made it after 46 hours of walking in 3.5 days.

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After finishing, I met and talked with members of the US Army 173rd Airborne Nijmegen March Team. Recalling how fun it was for me as a member of the 66th Maintenance BN Nijmegen March Team...25 years earlier.

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Back in Wedron we all shared stories about our 4 Days March over a beer or two..."See you next year?" Was the biggest question with all the new friendships formed. I was completely prepared to go in every way for the 94th Marches in 2010, all trained up, flight, room, registration as marcher #50 D 474, but financial concerns forced last minute cancellation.

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The Sunday after the 93rd Marches...all quiet at Nijmegen Station. Sitting here waiting for my train to depart, with medal in hand, goal accomplished. Will I be back? Doubtful...but then again I thought that in 1984 too.

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