Nijmegen Vierdaagse kicks off with nearly 45,000 hikers

The 102nd edition of the Nijmegen Vierdaagse kicked off at 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday. A total of 44,480 people are participating in the four-day hike this year. The first day of hiking s known as the Dag van Elst, or the Day of Elst in English. Participants will hike through the Betuwe towards Arnhem and the come back to Nijmegen via Bemmel, covering 30, 40 or 50 kilometers. 

2,951 hikers did not show up on Tuesday morning - 300 more no-shows than last year, De Gelderlander reports.

The vast majority of participants are hiking 40 kilometers per day, according to ANP. This includes almost all 6 thousand military participants, who have to cover the 40 kilometers with 10 kilograms of luggage on their backs. Their backpacks are weighed every day at Kamp Heumensoord, where the soldiers are staying. 

This year people of 82 nationalities are participating in the Four Day Marches, as the Nijmegen Vierdaagse is known in English. Three participants are 91 years old or older. Last year 38,409 finished the hike.

Participants can expect a hot and dry walking day on Tuesday. The organizers and the Red Cross advise the hikers to stay hydrated, eat something salty every now and then, put a wet towel on their neck, wear a cap, and regularly apply sunscreen. Spectators would also be wise to follow these guidelines. 

The Nijmegen Vierdaagse is the biggest job of the year for the Red Cross, with around a thousand volunteers working on the event.