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450 Sqn NCO takes part in the Nijmegen Marches

In July of this year Cpl Matthew Nicolls took part in the annual march at Nijmegen in The Netherlands. The marches are the longest marching event in the world and are aimed at promoting sport and exercise. Cpl Nicolls wrote the following report:

After 14 hours on a coach, the idea of walking 168 kilometers wasnt that appealing. Still, we soldiered on and arrived at Camp HuemenSoord in Holland and set up our kit.

The first 3 days were "acclimatisation days" meaning we went into town, went swiiming in an outdoor pool ( freezing!) and had a great time. Tuesday morning came all too quickly. Waking up at 2 am, we crawled into breakfast then went back to the room and got ready.

Outside for 3.45 we actually ended up heading the entire British contingent (all 2000 of them!) out of Huemensoord on day 1. 27 miles later and we arrived back sore and bruised. It had been a brutal day, the longest we would march for the entire event.

Day 2 seemed impossible, let alone day 3 and 4. Yet out we marched, this time sent to the back of the contingent. Day 2 was amazing, our shortest day we averaged 8km an hour for the first leg, an impressive feat. We arrived back as the first ATC team, beating back teams who had left 1 and half hours before us that morning.

Day 3 was the same, as we raced Dutch marines up hills and sang along to German army songs. The atmosphere is amazing when marching with 47000 people. Day 4 was upon us all too quickly. The second longest day and after 76 miles, it seemed a bridge too far. At lunch I thought I might actually die, but the team rallied together and we blitzed leg 3 and leg 4, it was amazing to see what the human body can do when pushed to its limit.

At the end of 40Km, we technically finished and were awarded our nijmegen medals, however there was only more challenge. The British contingent marchpast involved 2000 of the fittest British and Canadian soldiers, and ATC, ACF and CCF teams in the country. And we led it. It was an amazing feeling with 1000000 people lining the streets to cheer us in the last 5km.

Surrey Wing Nijmegen team- awarded best ATC for the Nijmegen marches 2011 (Come on!)

I would reccomend Nijmegen to anyone who feels they have the stuff to walk 4 marathons in 4 days. I didn't think I could.

CPL Nicolls

Date of Article: 30 Jul 11

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