The Walk of the World – Sweat, Tears and Blisters.
Last week three cadets and two staff members of 2195 (Long Eaton) Squadron ATC joined just under 50,000 other daring walkers on the 100th International Four Days Nijmegen marches. The Nijmegen Marches are the largest walking event in the World, this year having just under 50,000 participants in the 100th year marching their way through the idyllic towns and villages of Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. Conquering the Marches is not for the faint-hearted and requires a commitment to training; the cadets walk a staggering 40K a day, over 4 consecutive days. That’s 100 miles in just 4 days! What an amazing accomplishment!
The journey to walk the world started at an early 4 am Glenfield squadron wake up call to catch a flight from Birmingham Airport to Amsterdam. The Road Marching Team were buzzing with excitement especially when Birmingham Airport made a special announcement on the intercom to wish good luck to South and East Midlands Wing at the Nijmegen Marches.
As soon as the plane landed the cadets were quickly booting off to explore the airport before catching the trains, they were especially excited to catch a double decker train. As they arrived in Nijmegen, the celebrations had already started with roads filled with marquees and music stages – celebrating the beginning of the marches and the history of the marches. The Marching Team carried on their journey of the world in Nijmegen by first going to their international Military Base- Heumensoord. Where all the military teams from across the world would relax and stay whilst the marches took place. The team was based in the British Military Contingency area with the British Forces; next to the Canadian Forces.
Ready. On the first day in the tremendous city of Nijmegen the Road Marching Team visited The Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek to pay their respects to the fallen British Soldiers of the conflict in Arnhem. The cadets also visited the eye-opening Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ to see the history and conditions of the Arnhem conflict, the museum had a real life stage set showing a small part of the conflict, which allowed the cadets to truely understand the conflict.This was followed by a 3 course meal with the whole team in the pristine setting of the Nijmegen River – not forgetting Flying Officer Redwoods birthday, with a surprise bag of tobasco sauce (his favourite).
Steady. On their second day the team explored Nijmegen seeing the city and its beauty. Some of the cadets even tried out the pools for a splash of fun. Later into the day cadets had the opportunity to mix in with the locals and the many festivals and dance their feet off before the marching begins.
GO! The Four Days Marches have a different route each day; through the landscapes of the Dutch provinces of Gelderland, Brabant and Limburg, through the city of Nijmegen and its outskirts. Every walking day revolves around a different town in the vicinity of Nijmegen. The first day is otherwise called the day of Elst, the second day the day of Wijchen, the third the day of Groesbeek and finally the fourth day the day of Cuijk.
Each day the team was supported by thousands of cheering, singing and dancing supporters all willing to see the team to the finish and to see everyone get their well-deserved Royally-acclaimed Nijmegen Cross! A century of Walking! This wasn’t the only unique thing about this year’s Nijmegen marches – the King of the Netherlands was to be at the finish line to show his support seeing the cadets and the BMC all marching passed with the pride of wearing the Nijmegen medal.
With the Marches over there was only one challenge left for the team – to get to the spa as quick as possible! With all the cadets enjoying the pools of the hotel and a final meal it was time for their feet to leave Holland and travel back home.
As the clouds broke and the team could see British soil it was time for them to say their goodbyes to everyone. Cadet Bradley Scriven said, “seven months training and the march complete – with just under 400 miles walked I can proudly say I walked the world with the South and East Midlands Wing Marching Team. I made some really good memories and this is an experience like no other. See everyone again at the 101 Nijmegen Marches”
Written by Cadet Sergeant J Bland
2195 Media Team