The Nijmegen 4-day marches are quite unheard of in the public, but most definitely aren’t within the cadets – 4 days of long distance road marching in Holland (around 25 miles a day), with around 5000 other members of the military and 40000 civilians along side you, it’s an event you will never forget.
It takes place mid-July and is probably the hardest thing a cadet will ever do – but it’s by far the best. This was my first year participating in the marches and it was a severe shock to the system, from the first training session (which is in October the year before!) all the way to the marches itself. But after all the training and completion of the qualifiers in Garelochhead and Cosford, you become prepared and ready for the gargantuan task of 25 miles a day, for four days in a row.
On the 16th July 2011 the Cumbria & N. Lancashire Wing Marching team flew out to Amsterdam and we got to Camp Heumensoord just a few hours later, which is where we were staying for the next week. The marches commenced only two days later when we had to get up at 2am for breakfast – and to get out onto the road. All 14 of us were coping well for the first 2 days, but by day 3 the 1 million people that lined the streets were desperately needed to raise the morale of the blistered, tired and sweaty cadets… A few team duets with the Dutch and Canadian military helped of course (singing is the key to keep everyone going while out marching!)
By the fourth day everyone was tired but eager to finish, and we did so in a rapid time unmatched by most of the British Army and RAF teams who were there! After collecting the medals a march-past through the city of Nijmegen was done by the whole of the British Military Contingent – us included. There is no feeling quite like the one you get when countless people applaud you for completing the march – and it’s one of the many reasons I’m planning on going again next year. It’s just amazing!
Sgt Joshua Smullen