104th edition of International Nijmegen Marches kick off
The 104th edition of the Nijmegen Four Day Marches kicked off on Wednesday, a day later than usual due to the extremely high temperatures on Tuesday. According to the Vierdaagse weather advice team, the walk on Wednesday will also be "a challenge" because the mercury will rise to around 30 degrees Celsius with high humidity.
March leader Henny Sackers of De 4Daagse Foundation gave the traditional start signal at 4:00 a.m. This year, the international walking event will last three days instead of four, starting with the Day of Wijchen, usually the route on the second day. Participants will walk to Wijchen and return to Nijmegen via the city center.
In other years, the Day of Wijchen caused the most dropouts, but “everything is different now,” according to a spokeswoman for the Red Cross. “This is now the first day of walking. In other years, walkers who already struggled through the first day drop out on the second day. Given the weather forecast, we are expecting many treatments along the way.”
Immediately after the start, the Vierdaagse walkers were waved off by hundreds of partiers, who come to the city for the Vierdaagse festivities.
For the first time in many years, the Vierdaagse has less than 40,000 participants starting the march. In the past few days, 38,455 walkers collected their starting permits, but the Vierdaagse board knows from experience that not all of them will actually start the march. There were also fewer registrations, presumably because potential participants still wanted to be careful of the coronavirus. The pandemic resulted in the Vierdaagse being canceled in the previous two years.
The hikers will end in Nijmegen today, where it is Pink Wednesday, one of the largest LGBTQIA+ events in the Netherlands. The party causes crowds and congestion for the walkers, who are not all equally happy when the finish line comes into sight.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times