After many months of road marching training, Newton’s Sgt Connor Levers and Cpl Evangelina Ellison were ready for the International Vierdaagse March in Holland, commonly referred to as Nijmegen. The training began in January earlier in the year, starting with one day, 25 mile walks in the Rutland area, but then progressed to multiple day, 50 mile walks. While training, the team was taught about taping feet with zinc oxide tape and what type of boots we should be looking into buying for the 100 mile march.
Sgt Levers and Cpl Ellison arrived at 2070 (Glenfield) Squadron on the 12th of July, in preparation for the early morning coach journey and flight from Birmingham Airport. While at Glenfield, the team had final kit checks since this would be the very last opportunity they would have before flying out to Holland. The team also enjoyed some last minute British cuisine… a take-away food from the local Chinese. Others preferred to play football with their last few hours in England.
The team was up, dressed and ready to go by 2:50am. The coach arrived to the ‘excited’ and ‘energetic’ faces of the Cadets. The coach journey lasted around an hour and a half, so this was the perfect time to get some last minute sleep before getting into the chaos of a self service airport. After navigating the mass chaos and confusion of the airport, the team was set for Holland, now it was just a waiting game till the departure time.
The flight only lasted a mire 45 minutes, once arriving the Amsterdam, the team caught two trains to finally arrive in the city of Nijmegen. While outside the train station, the team took the traditional photo.
Once the photo was taken, the team caught a direct bus from Nijmegen to Camp Heumensoord: a temporary camp set up every year especially for the military personnel taking part in the Nijmegen marches. The accommodation was tons better than the over sized tent the team had to sleep in at the RAF WARMA march. This accommodation actually had beds and mattresses for everyone to sleep on.
Over the next two days, the team went sightseeing around various towns, war memorials and museums. All of which were very interesting and educational at the same time. The museum mainly focussed on Operation Market Garden, which took part during World War II.
The 16th was the first day of the march, the first 25 of 100 miles. I personally found this to be the day that stood out most. Both adults and children alike cheered all the teams as they marched by, offering the occasional sugary treat or slice of cucumber. There were also people handing out soft, squishy balls to help prevent finger swelling.
The 2nd day I found to be the day that I felt lasted the shortest. The day just flew by; no blisters were present on either of my feet, so I could fully enjoy my second day taking part in the Nijmegen marches.
The 3rd day in my opinion was the toughest and longest of all four days. The temperature was constantly above 30 degrees once the sun had risen. Half way through day the DPM shirts were scrapped due to the considerably hot temperatures. Besides the hot temperatures, the day just seemed to drag on. This was most likely due to my weakening legs.
The 4th and final day was the day of endurance. This day seemed to take every last ounce of strength and energy. This final checkpoint just continued to get longer and longer, although once the team was presented their Nijmegen medals, I found a new found boost of energy to allow myself to complete the victory march: another 5km on top of the 25 miles already walked.
Overall I have found the whole week to be an amazing experience. Definitely worth the months of training and pain I went through. I would love to do the march again next year and I would fully recommend this to anyone who wants a very unique, physical challenge.
Sgt Connor Levers
1936 (Newton) Squadron
Squadron Cadet MCO