The 104th edition of the Nijmegen four-day marches started on Wednesday, a day later than usual due to extremely high temperatures on Tuesday. According to the Vierdaagse weather advisory team, Wednesday’s march will also be “challenging” as the mercury will soar to around 30 degrees Celsius with high humidity.
March leader Henny Sackers of the De 4Daagse Foundation gave the traditional starting signal at 4:00 a.m. This year, the international walking event will last three days instead of four, starting with Day of Wijchen, usually the second day route. Participants will walk to Wijchen and return to Nijmegen via the city center.
In other years, Wijchen Day has caused the most drop-outs, but “everything is different now”, according to a Red Cross spokeswoman. “Now is the first day of walking. In other years, walkers who have already struggled on the first day give up on the second day. Given the weather forecast, we expect many treatments along the way.
Immediately after the start, the Vierdaagse marchers were greeted by hundreds of revelers, who come to town for the Vierdaagse festivities.
For the first time in many years, the Vierdaagse has less than 40,000 participants at the start of the march. Over the past few days, 38,455 walkers have collected their start permits, but Vierdaagse Council knows from experience that not everyone will start the walk. There were also fewer registrations, probably because potential attendees still wanted to watch out for the coronavirus. The pandemic led to the cancellation of the Vierdaagse in the previous two years.
The hikers will end in Nijmegen today, where it’s Pink Wednesday, one of the biggest LGBTQIA+ events in the Netherlands. The party causes crowds and traffic jams for the walkers, who are not all equally happy when the finish line looms.