The fantastic fireworks heralded the start of the 99th VIER DAAGSE festival with a huge bang!! We caught the bus to town with Jan, Netty and Maaike our Dutch friends, and we were a part of this amazing spectacle!
It was party time in Nijmegen on Saturday night and we danced & mingled with the packed crowd!! . . . . . (400,000) . . . . The Dutch know how to throw a party in style!
About 35 stages set-up throughout the city with great free music and entertainment for everyone! The biggest and best festival we have ever seen!! The group B Z B had the crowd shouting for more! The stage performance was amazing. Check this guy’s dance moves out:
Delicious, interesting and tasty food “pop-up” cafes with heaps of seating for the crowds! This retro 60’s car/cafe caught my attention.
Quirky, innovative street decorations also added some humour and created a festive, fun atmosphere.
After the excitement and fun of the street parties the “walkers” I’m sure were soon preparing for their challenging “4 day walk” with an early night on Monday! They were required to start by 4 or 5am and must finish by 5pm to be eligible to continue walking the following day. 30, 40 or 50km per day for four days. Rain and then heat on Day 1 made the going tough . . . . some 600 were unable to start on Day 2 with blisters, etc taking their toll!!
Day 2 and the last walker “soldiered on” & shuffled slowly with the Ambulance men supporting him towards the finish line! Not sure if he finished just before or just after the deadline of 5pm!
This is an extract from the blue bible (Lonely Planet):
Vierdaagse (Four Days – www.4daagse.nl). Nijmegen’s biggest event is the annual Vierdaagse, a four day, 120 – 200km long march. It has a long history; the first one was held in 1909. 45,000 people walk it – even though the shortest and easiest route is a minimum of 30km per day. Many suffer debilitating blisters, while thousands more endure debilitating hangovers as the Wandelvierdaagse is the city’s excuse for a weeklong party. There are varying route classifications according to gender and age. Completing the walk is considered a national honour and comes with a medal!
The walk was devised originally as a competition among the Dutch military units to improve their fitness!. The military have a very heavy presence even today – they come from all over the world. We saw many troops from Norway, Spain, UK, Sweden,Germany, France, USA – as well as the Netherlands of course.
There are three course lengths each day:
- 30kms for old and very young. The oldest registered this year is 92 and the youngest 11 (must turn 12 in calendar 2015 to be allowed to register)
- 40 kms for military – they must wear full uniform and carry full pack weighing at least 10kg
- 50 kms per day for every one else – 200 km over 4 days “VierDaagse”!
The official entry is limited to 40,000 walkers. We enquired about entering 4 months ago and it was already fully subscribed (lucky for us…!!!!) Nijmegan and the surrounding towns and villages get right behind the walkers with all manner of support. Billeting, encouraging, cheering, singing, bands and music blaring, providing food and drinks along the trek! Day one does a loop to the north, day two came through Beuningen, day three through the hills to the west and day four a loop to the south. Each day starting and finishing in Nijmegen.