Day 4: The Day of Cuijk, 42.8km, Friday 20th July 2018
Another uncomfortable night, not just due to the heat but also because of my poorly leg*
Another late start, 6am, meant a bit of a lie-in until 4.30am. It was getting quite light as I washed down a couple Ibruprofen with my first coffee of the day.
I hobbled off to the start, all the time wondering whether walking nearly 47km on hard tarmac was such a brilliant idea. The (nearly) 47km = 4km to the start and back + 42.8km for the actual day’s walk.
En-route to the start
Other than cyclists and pedestrians, there was little road traffic – it made for a beautifully peaceful walk to the start.
I managed to get close to the front of the start queue and I was on my way by 6.10pm. My leg had eased somewhat but I didn’t want to push it so I just ambled along for the first few miles, just to see how it coped.
By 8am it was cookingly hot, this last day was forecast to be the hottest day of the event, 30+degC. I’d managed to pick up the pace to around 3mph, my leg was okay as long as I kept moving – it was really when I stopped and then had to restart that it hurt like hell…..so I vowed to keep my stops to a minimum. It worked.
Ladies in Linden
The walk from Cuijk over the pontoon bridge across the River Maas is particularly special. Every year the Dutch military make sure the 45,000 or so walkers keep their feet dry by constructing this impressive bridge – it’s one of the day’s highlights for me.
Crossing the River Maas on the pontoon bridge
As well as international military involvement, there are other government department staff taking part in Vierdaagse: Police, Customs officers and more.
In past events I’ve spent time walking with UK bobbies, including Spike and his wife from Macclesfield, and so it was this year.
A Dutch policeman invited Spike & Co on board his police boat where they were royally received and maybe treated to the odd beer and jenever. Not a very clear photograph I’m afraid – sorry Spike!
Approaching Nijmegen things start to busy up. Even more bands, more en-route entertainment and spectator support – an Ibruprofen top-up kept me moving through this party.
And then I came across….
…dressed in Dutch colours
We walked together for a few miles but they we moving faster than me (nowt new there then) and off they went, Via Gladiola-bound.
Approaching Via Gladiola in blistering heat
One of the popular sights on the Via Gladiola is that of a Dutch police officer trying to control the ‘traffic’. I took a video but it wasn’t good enough to paste here, so this is one nicked from YouTube.
The civilian finish line – the military had a few km further to go to their finish at Heumensoord.
So that was it, another Vierdaagse completed. I’m not sure if I’ll do another, they really are great fun but 100 miles on tarmac is hard on the body. I’m fairly certain that my leg pain was down to the hard surface.
Vierdaagse isn’t a cheap do: air fares, train fares, entry to the event itself etc. If you’re on your own, as I was, accommodation can be prohibitely expensive….made even worse by Brexit buggering up the £/Euro exchange rate.
Start & Finish numbers:
*Subsequently, after a visit to my GP, it was diagnosed as either a stress fracture or a shin splint. The good news was that it was just a shin splint – damned painful though.