FIRST CF WOMEN'S NIJMEGEN MARCHING TEAM
FROM TRENTON - JULY 1979
Back (L-R): Adele Terecki, Monique Plourde, Judy Meeks, Cathy Hinchcliffe, Mickey Hewko, Helen O'Donnell, Leona Ruckpaul, Jane Bruce, Katie Holburg, Donna Rainey, Georgina Leblanc Carol banks, Lynn Lacroix, Debbie Lavergne, Debbie Young.
Seated (L-R): Terry Leblanc; Louise Fish, Nancy Jean Taylor, Coach and trainer - Vic Vermaat, June Strachan, Coach and trainer - Bill Sears, Ronnie Stubbert, Jeanie Rowe.
The "vierdaagse" (Dutch for "Four day Event") is an annual walk that has taken place since 1909, being based at Nijmegen since 1916. Depending on age group and category, walkers have to walk 30, 40 or 50 kilometers each day for four days. Originally a military event with a few civilians, it now is a mainly civilian event. Numbers have risen in recent years, with over 40,000 taking part - including about 5,000 Military. It is now the world's largest walking event. Due to crowds on the route, since 2004 the organisers have limited the number of participants. Those who complete the march receive the 'Vierdaagse Cross', an official Dutch decoration that can be worn on a Dutch uniform. Many participants take part every year, including several that have taken part in 50, and even 60 different annual marches. The first day of walking is always the 3rd Tuesday in July.
Each day of the marches is named after the biggest town it goes through. Tuesday is the day of Elst, Wednesday the day of Wijchen, Thursday the day of Groesbeek and Friday the day of Cuijk. The routes always stay the same unless there is a specific need to change, as it did in 2007 (route changed in 2006 but cancelled) when the walkers went through the Waalkade on Wednesday for the first time since the original route got too crowded and walkers had to wait for over an hour at some times. 2006 was the first year to be cancelled in 90 years (apart from WW II). After the first day's march there were thousands of drop-outs and two deaths because of extreme heat.
On the Friday, as participants near the finish, the public awards the walkers with Gladioli. A symbol of force and victory stemming from Roman times where gladiators where showered with Gladioli, the Nijmegen walkers are similarly 'showered' in flowers on their arrival. The entry into the city and towards the finish, the St. Annastreet, is for that reason called Via Gladiola during the Nijmegen Marches.
The Trenton Ladies marching past the British contingent (In blue)