Article by: 25694 OCdt (III) Carl Richmond
The International Four Day March Nijmegen, more commonly referred to as simply Nijmegen, was originally an event to commemorate the liberation of the Netherlands by allied forces during World War II (WWII), for allied military veterans specifically. As such, Canada and her allies have sent teams every year to join in the march to show their continued support to the people of the Netherlands. The event has grown exponentially since its inception however and now includes over fifty thousand people, most of them civilians. The march, now the largest march in the world, attracts many competitors who simply want a physical challenge. With participants walking an average forty kilometers a day, for four days, the physical aspect of the march is not something to overlook.
The Canadian Forces (CF) releases a training schedule every year for its own teams participating in the Nijmegen March that has them start training almost seven months before the march itself. The Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC) team is the exception to this rule, where members only start training three months before, due to other training commitments during the academic year. Because of this, the RMCC team must hit the ground running in order to meet the required five hundred kilometer training mark before departing for the Netherlands.
The 2012 RMCC Nijmegen command team is run by Lt (N) Scriver, WO Forster and OCDT Ungeitis, who oversee all training and administration related work. The core of the team is composed of NCDT Brown, OCDT Eastwood, Wiedeman, Richmond, Lewis, Ekins, Charlebois, McTaggart, Bonvouloir, Abel and Marshall. The Nijmegen training, as is every year, pushes all participants both physically and mentally. The length and repetitiveness of the marches force the team to work together from the onset of training. The training also provides many leadership opportunities for not only the command team, but also individual members.
Currently, the RMCC team is halfway through its training, as the march itself takes place on the 17th of July. So far the intent of the training has been to break in the boots and bodies of the team by accustoming them to the stress of long marches. The teams longest march to date has been a thirty-five kilometer march that took roughly seven hours to complete. In an attempt to simulate the march as closely as possible, the team has been training with small packs filled with sandbags and Camelbaks (portable hydration packs) that total, on average, fifty pounds. During some shorter marches, usually those below twenty kilometers, the team doubled the weight of the sandbags adding an additional twenty pounds.
Most of the cadets on the team, naively, thought that the training would be relatively easy given the high level of fitness required of them during the regular academic year at RMCC. This misconception was squashed after the first back-to-back thirty and thirty-five kilometer march just two weeks ago. The stress on the body from doing back-to-back, long distance marches, came in many different forms for the group. Blisters, head spots and inflamed feet, ankles and knees were common problems suffered by most. The mental aspect, arguably the most challenging aspect to overcome, was also a challenge for those who had never competed in long distance endurance events. The team has succeeded in making it through these tough marches by talking, singing and listening to music from a portable speaker, which OCdt Bonvouloir has carried with him since the beginning of training. Also, the combat boots that the RMC Club Foundation graciously bought for the team have helped enormously. These techniques will hopefully carry the team through their most challenging set of marches next week, with back-to-back forty-kilometer marches.
The Nijmegen march will push the endurance of all participants, but provide them with new opportunities and experiences. Most importantly, it will allow for the cadets on the team to take part in a commemorative event that remembers an important point in Canadian and Dutch history. It will allow for cadets to interact with foreign officers and learn from them, while also giving RMCC an international presence.
Visit www.facebook.com/RMCNijmegen2012 for further updates on the teams progress as well as pictures and videos!