More than one hundred thousand people lined the streets in the small Dutch town of Nijmegan on Friday (22 July) to welcome 16,000 finishers in this year's annual long distance marching classic....
More than one hundred thousand people lined the streets in the small Dutch town of Nijmegan on Friday (22 July) to welcome 16,000 finishers in this year's annual long distance marching classic....organised by the Royal Netherlands League for Physical Culture. The event known as the Nijmegan March, has been held every year since 1909, except for a brief interruption during the War, and attracts thousands of participants from all over the world.
SYNOPSIS: The march is organised as a non-competitive event designed to encourage individual physical fitness, but for the people of Nijmegan and many of the participants, the march provides an excuse to indulge in a summer carnival. The pageantry of the military and civilian bands leading impressive ranks of service units is matched by the colourful dress and originality of the thousands of onlookers.
To show for their victory over sore feet and four days of gruelling marching, the 16,000 finishers have been given a commemorative medal. It won't bring them world-wide fame but it signifies a test of fitness and stamina not often equalled in today's mostly mechanised and car dependent world.
A special round of applause by the huge crowd greeted a man who completed the march with one leg.
In a far cry from this year's occasion, when only 151 walkers were brave enough in 1913 to attempt the rather slower version of the Olympic Marathon. This year, there were entrees from as far afield as Goose Bay in Canada, to Morocco, Argentina, Israel and the United States. In fact nearly 30 countries were represented in the six mile long procession.
Toping the final day's festivities the residents of Nijmegan give a dance, known appropriately as the Blister Ball.