View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Vierdaagse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vierdaagse. Show all posts

Saturday, 10 November 2018

4 Days, 100 miles, Part 3

Day 4: The Day of Cuijk, 42.8km, Friday 20th July 2018

Route Day4

Another uncomfortable night, not just due to the heat but also because of my poorly leg*

Another late start, 6am, meant a bit of a lie-in until 4.30am. It was getting quite light as I washed down a couple Ibruprofen with my first coffee of the day.

I hobbled off to the start, all the time wondering whether walking nearly 47km on hard tarmac was such a brilliant idea. The (nearly) 47km = 4km to the start and back + 42.8km for the actual day’s walk.


En-route to the start

Other than cyclists and pedestrians, there was little road traffic – it made for a beautifully peaceful walk to the start.

I managed to get close to the front of the start queue and I was on my way by 6.10pm. My leg had eased somewhat but I didn’t want to push it so I just ambled along for the first few miles, just to see how it coped.


By 8am it was cookingly hot, this last day was forecast to be the hottest day of the event, 30+degC. I’d managed to pick up the pace to around 3mph, my leg was okay as long as I kept moving – it was really when I stopped and then had to restart that it hurt like hell… I vowed to keep my stops to a minimum. It worked.








Ladies in Linden

The walk from Cuijk over the pontoon bridge across the River Maas is particularly special. Every year the Dutch military make sure the 45,000 or so walkers keep their feet dry by constructing this impressive bridge – it’s one of the day’s highlights for me.





Crossing the River Maas on the pontoon bridge

As well as international military involvement, there are other government department staff taking part in Vierdaagse: Police, Customs officers and more.

In past events I’ve spent time walking with UK bobbies, including Spike and his wife from Macclesfield, and so it was this year.


A Dutch policeman invited Spike & Co on board his police boat where they were royally received and maybe treated to the odd beer and jenever. Not a very clear photograph I’m afraid – sorry Spike!

Approaching Nijmegen things start to busy up. Even more bands, more en-route entertainment and spectator support – an Ibruprofen top-up kept me moving through this party.

And then I came across….


…dressed in Dutch colours

We walked together for a few miles but they we moving faster than me (nowt new there then) and off they went, Via Gladiola-bound.



Approaching Via Gladiola in blistering heat

One of the popular sights on the Via Gladiola is that of a Dutch police officer trying to control the ‘traffic’. I took a video but it wasn’t good enough to paste here, so this is one nicked from YouTube.


Marching in


The civilian finish line – the military had a few km further to go to their finish at Heumensoord.

So that was it, another Vierdaagse completed. I’m not sure if I’ll do another, they really are great fun but 100 miles on tarmac is hard on the body. I’m fairly certain that my leg pain was down to the hard surface.

Vierdaagse isn’t a cheap do: air fares, train fares, entry to the event itself etc. If you’re on your own, as I was, accommodation can be prohibitely expensive….made even worse by Brexit buggering up the £/Euro exchange rate.

The Numbers

Daily distances:


Start & Finish numbers:


*Subsequently, after a visit to my GP, it was diagnosed as either a stress fracture or a shin splint. The good news was that it was just a shin splint – damned painful though.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

4 Days, 100 miles. Part 2

Day 2: The Day of Wijchen, 39.6km, Wednesday 18th July 2018

Route Day2

Start times alternate between 5am and 6am. 5am starts are favourite to avoid the heat of the day – my start for today was 6am. Ho hum.



Waiting to start Day 2

The Wedren was bouncing with activity when I arrived at 5.45am. Bands were blasting out their favourite music. Spectators, many of them worse for wear after a night of partying, lined the route to cheer the walkers as they left the start. And it was hot – again.

At 6am our wristbands were scanned as we passed through the start tunnel and we were off.


Entertainment everywhere!


Only in Holland


Pink, so it must be Vierdaagse Wednesday


Accordian + modified cajon = a nice sound


Wijchen Welcome

I entered Wijchen around 9am, around 9 – 10 miles into the day’s walk. The speed was about right – around 3mph. I stopped off for a 20 minute break to enjoy lovely coffee being dished out, free, gratis and for nothing, at a cafe-bar.


Checkpoints, where barcoded wristbands are scanned, appear a couple or three times on each day’s route….just to discourage those who might want to sneak in a short-cut!


Mayoral welcome in Wijchen


And then there was more pink


Free hugs – for those who could reach



Hydration is important


2.30pm and the end of Day 2

Another 25 miles completed, time taken (including rest stops): 8hours 35mins, around 3mph. Although it’s not a race it’s nice to maintain  a decent pace.

Day 3: The Day of Groesbeek, 39.2km, Thursday 19th July 2018

Another 5am start…thankfully!

Route Day3

Also known as the Day of Hills…but hills aren’t very big in Holland.


Vierdaagse Thursday sees the very moving Memorial Service takes place at the Groesbeek Canadian Military Cemetery.

After an uncomfortably hot night I bounced (eh?) out of bed at 3.30am, got myself sorted and arrived at the start before 4.45am. The queue for the start was enormous, when we were allowed to start at 5am it took a good 15 minutes to get through the start gate.


These ladies are regular Marchers, each day they sport different attire based on national costumes of EU countries where they either live or where they were born. They were powerful walkers, rarely taking much more than 8 hours to complete each day’s 40km route. We spent an interesting hour discussing the insanity of Brexit, they were all very informed…and amazed at the route the UK was taking.

I don’t know why, maybe I was tired, but I didn’t take many photographs.

P1050927Walkers as far as the eye can see

P1050929Dutch inland waterways are generally a bit(!) wider than those in the UK. They make full use of them for heavy transport, keeping a substantial amount of heavy traffic off the roads.


Difficult to get lost!

Canadian War Cemetery

At the Canadian War Cemetery (Photo from Vierdaagse website)


Day3 e

By late morning it really very hot, garden hose pipes spraying water onto the procession of walkers were very welcome.

I’d been walking at a reasonable lick (3 – 3.2mph including stops) and was drinking lots of fluid. I started each day with 1.5 litres of water in a Platy plus 500ml of SiS hydration stuff. It was barely enough – I took every opportunity to take on more water en-route to supplement what I was carrying.

Day3 b

A hill

It was on the pull up this hill that I first noticed a twinge in my L shin. A mile or so later it had vanished - until the next incline. I stopped and gave it a good, deep massage – it seemed to help a little but it gradually worsened as the day wore on.


Another one for AlanR


Pink egg anyone?

I had a 20 minute sit down: shoes off, feet up, and eating my pink egg and a couple of Ibruprofen…all washed down with a huge glug of Corporation Pop.

After a slow re-start my shin pain had eased and I was soon back up to my normal pace again.


By the time I got to the finish at 1.45pm I was hot, knackered…and the Ibruprofen had worn off.

I hobbled back to base, hoping and praying that a good rest, more Ibruprofen and lots of ice would sort my leg – only one day to go!

Sunday, 28 October 2018

4 Days, 100 miles. Part 1

Nijmegen Four Days Marches 2018…In the beginning:


July in Holland can only mean one thing: Vierdaagse…the Nijmegen Four Days Marches, when 45,000+ happy walkers from all over the world converge on Nijmegen to go for a bit of a walk.

You understand Dutch (of course) so have a watch of this (there are

English subtitles):

If anyone can show me how to successfully embed a YouTube video into this blog I will buy you beer.

History of the event is here.

I’ve taken part in the event, on and off, since 2006 – it’s great fun!

I flew from Manchester to Schiphol then travelled by train to Nijmegen. Trains, often double-deckers, run on time in Holland, and there are loads of them. And they’re clean. And comfortable. And train fares are definitely affordable: one side of Holland to t’other for less than £20. British train companies could learn a lot from the Dutch.

Day 1: The Day of Elst, 39.6km. Tuesday 17th July 2018


My allocated start time of 5am meant I had to be up and about by 3.30am, time for a decent breakfast and the 2km walk to the start. It was hot, 22degC, even at that time. Many of the good folk of Nijmegen had been partying all night in readiness for the start – they know how to enjoy themselves in this part of Holland!


Queueing at the start


Being piped out from the start

The Dutch are very fond of Scottish pipers and pipe bands, this piper was just one of many I came across on the Marches – he wasn’t walking the route though!


Bridge over the River Waal

A couple for Alan R:



Times on some of these photographs is an hour behind ‘real’ time, I’d neglected to change the clock on my camera….duh.


18 km to go at 9.30am and it was now seriously hot. I was carrying 2 litres of water, I topped that up with 500ml of SiS hydration stuff. It was only just enough.


Entering Arnhem at 9.30am

The atmosphere on the Marches is quite unique. walking in the company of 45,000 walkers, a mixture of military and civilians, is something that’s really special – as the Dutch would say.

Every village you walk through celebrates the event, civic dignitaries turn out in their finest regalia, bands play on street corners – it’s a huge party and I love it!

Many rufty-tufty walkers criticise the event as not offering ‘proper’ walking because most of the routes are now on tarmac and, lets face it, Holland is pretty flat! Despite all this, 100 miles in four days isn’t a walk in the park…it IS fun though!


I really don’t know…


In memory of WW2, the Dutch suffered terribly 


Flowers - where ever possible


Time for a breather for those in the know


Cavorting with the German Army


Almost the end of Day 1

I clocked into the event centre in the Wedren around 1pm, 25 miles in 8 hours, including a 20 minute rest stop. I was quite happy with that time, especially considering the heat of the day which was hot. Very hot in fact.


I wandered back to my accommodation, walking back along the route and cheering the later finishers – the were all (mostly) smiling!


En-route I called for a quick beer with The Irregulars at a bar in Nijmegen….they recognise the importance of re-hydrating after a long walk in the heat.

After a shower, a good feed and another cold beer, I hit the sack at around 8.30pm. I needed a decent kip before the exertions of the next day and it’s later 6am start.

A few more photos here.

P2P recce with Judith, a UFO, and a wild camp.

The reason for this test is the continuing problem I have with posting using Open LiveWriter…. The Plan (there’s sometimes A Plan) was to...