Self-Service at Casa Ultreia
We never did find out what the fiesta in Ourense was all about, it huge fun though.
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.
Day 2: The Day of Wijchen, 39.6km, Wednesday 18th July 2018
Start times alternate between 5am and 6am. 5am starts are favourite to avoid the heat of the day – my start for today was 6am. Ho hum.
Waiting to start Day 2
The Wedren was bouncing with activity when I arrived at 5.45am. Bands were blasting out their favourite music. Spectators, many of them worse for wear after a night of partying, lined the route to cheer the walkers as they left the start. And it was hot – again.
At 6am our wristbands were scanned as we passed through the start tunnel and we were off.
Only in Holland
Pink, so it must be Vierdaagse Wednesday
Accordian + modified cajon = a nice sound
I entered Wijchen around 9am, around 9 – 10 miles into the day’s walk. The speed was about right – around 3mph. I stopped off for a 20 minute break to enjoy lovely coffee being dished out, free, gratis and for nothing, at a cafe-bar.
Checkpoints, where barcoded wristbands are scanned, appear a couple or three times on each day’s route….just to discourage those who might want to sneak in a short-cut!
Mayoral welcome in Wijchen
And then there was more pink
Free hugs – for those who could reach
Hydration is important
2.30pm and the end of Day 2
Another 25 miles completed, time taken (including rest stops): 8hours 35mins, around 3mph. Although it’s not a race it’s nice to maintain a decent pace.
Day 3: The Day of Groesbeek, 39.2km, Thursday 19th July 2018
Another 5am start…thankfully!
Also known as the Day of Hills…but hills aren’t very big in Holland.
Vierdaagse Thursday sees the very moving Memorial Service takes place at the Groesbeek Canadian Military Cemetery.
After an uncomfortably hot night I bounced (eh?) out of bed at 3.30am, got myself sorted and arrived at the start before 4.45am. The queue for the start was enormous, when we were allowed to start at 5am it took a good 15 minutes to get through the start gate.
These ladies are regular Marchers, each day they sport different attire based on national costumes of EU countries where they either live or where they were born. They were powerful walkers, rarely taking much more than 8 hours to complete each day’s 40km route. We spent an interesting hour discussing the insanity of Brexit, they were all very informed…and amazed at the route the UK was taking.
I don’t know why, maybe I was tired, but I didn’t take many photographs.
Difficult to get lost!
At the Canadian War Cemetery (Photo from Vierdaagse website)
By late morning it really very hot, garden hose pipes spraying water onto the procession of walkers were very welcome.
I’d been walking at a reasonable lick (3 – 3.2mph including stops) and was drinking lots of fluid. I started each day with 1.5 litres of water in a Platy plus 500ml of SiS hydration stuff. It was barely enough – I took every opportunity to take on more water en-route to supplement what I was carrying.
It was on the pull up this hill that I first noticed a twinge in my L shin. A mile or so later it had vanished - until the next incline. I stopped and gave it a good, deep massage – it seemed to help a little but it gradually worsened as the day wore on.
Another one for AlanR
Pink egg anyone?
I had a 20 minute sit down: shoes off, feet up, and eating my pink egg and a couple of Ibruprofen…all washed down with a huge glug of Corporation Pop.
After a slow re-start my shin pain had eased and I was soon back up to my normal pace again.
By the time I got to the finish at 1.45pm I was hot, knackered…and the Ibruprofen had worn off.
I hobbled back to base, hoping and praying that a good rest, more Ibruprofen and lots of ice would sort my leg – only one day to go!