Fourteen thousand walkers put their best foot forward on Friday (20 July) to make an attempt at a triumphal entry into the little Dutch town of Nijmegan.
Fourteen thousand walkers put their best foot forward on Friday (20 July) to make an attempt at a triumphal entry into the little Dutch town of Nijmegan. They'd just finished this year's Nijmegan marches.
The marches began as walks back in 1909 when only 14 people tack part. Fifty-seven marches later, and with only a break for the war years, the number of starters this year was well ever 14,000.
It's all organised by the Royal Netherlands League for Physical Culture. The marchers are non competitive events, designed to encourage people to reach their peak of physical fitness.
On the last day, under cool, cloudy skies with a few drops of rain, the first marchers filtered into Nijmegan, past thousands of cheering people, and onto the saluting base.
SYNOPSIS: To the stirring sound of band music and the tramp of weary feet, four days of marching comes to an and at the Dutch town of marching comes to an and at the Dutch town of Nijmegan. It's just a march... this is nearly a festival. It's an occasion that attracts competitors from all over the world... competitor who get a kick out of marching. The attraction is the annual "Vierdaagse" an annual international marching even. This year it drew fourteen thousand competitors from 23 countries. And dogs from some other countries.
A Swiss Army group was among entrants this year. The march isn't timed, but the emphasis is still on teamwork. If any member drops out along the routs, the entire team is disqualified.
The Transatlantic challenge was lead by marchers from the United States and another counting from Canada.
The route to be covered is between two major battle-grounds of World War Two. Nijmegan itself, and the distant town of Arnheim. Marchers have slogged ever this route in an organised way since nineteen hundred and nine, with break only during the two World Wars.
This year's march didn't have the weather problem that faced last year's competitors. In 1972, hundreds dropped out because of the heat. On Friday, it was cool ad overcast, with an occasional shower of rain to keep everyone fresh. Britain, as usual, sent a big contingent. Nearly a thousand men, women and schoolboy cadets... from the Army and the Royal Air Force.
And just to keep everybody in order... even a contingat of London bobbies. The oldest marches was an 82 year old Dutchman. The youngest, cheating a little, was a babe in arms. When it was over, nobody won a prize... they never do. But most marchers will be back, same time, same place next year to show a log for physical fitness.