After four days of festivals and parties, the 99th edition of the Nijmegen four day march – Vierdaagse – will kick off in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
This year 51,462 people signed up to take part in the event, down nearly 2,500 on last year’s record total. Of them, 46,000 have been allocated a place in march, of whom over 6,000 are first-timers.
The Nijmegen march is the biggest event of its kind in the country and attracts participants from all over the world. This year, 6,127 foreign walkers are taking part including over 3,000 soldiers.
The first Vierdaagse, or four-day march, was held in 1909 as a way of keeping the army fit after the introduction of motor vehicles. Now mostly civilians take part, walking 30, 40 or 50 km a day over a period of four days.
Over half the walkers are aged 51 to 70 and around 60% are male. The oldest participants this year are 92-year-old Harman Dubie from Amsterdam and Jan Zwijnen from Huizen. The youngest is 11-year-old Sjoerd van der Laar from Velp.
There are all sorts of variants on the theme, such as the Avondvierdaagse, which involves walking in the evening and is mainly done by primary school children.
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