In the Netherlands thousand of people lined the streets of the small town of Nijmegen on Tuesday (17 July) when seventeen thousand people began the four-day festival of long distance marching.
In the Netherlands thousand of people lined the streets of the small town of Nijmegen on Tuesday (17 July) when seventeen thousand people began the four-day festival of long distance marching. The Nijmegen march is organised by the Royal Netherlands League for Physical culture, and participants from thirty nations stressed the spirit of International friendship and co-operation which is the hallmark of this annual event.
SYNOPSIS: The Nijmegen marches bring great prestige to the area and thousands of people from the town and surrounding villages packed the vast sports' stadium to watch the flag-raising ceremony which opened the festival. The festivities are not confined to marching but also provide an opportunity for a week-long summer carnival.
Among the spectators was the Dutch Prime Minister Andries Van Agt.
Marchers cover different routes on each of the four days. Each route is about 45 kilometres (28 miles) long and fitness is at a premium for the teams which always include a strong contingent from armies based in Europe.
The emphasis is on friendship rather than competition, but there is an award for fishing on all four marching days called the Nijmegen international marches medal.
The marches were first held in 1909, so Nijmegen has now staged the festival for seventy years, seen the number of participants swell from hundreds to tens of thousands.
The youngest competitor this year is just twelve, but many people return each year to enjoy the spirit of camaraderie. It's a hard task for entrants to complete the 180 kilometres (110 miles) march in four days. But even those who aren't used to walking such distances try their hardest in spite of blistered feet and aching limbs. The march is due to end on Friday (20 July) with a colourful four-hour parade through the streets of Nijmegen.