Nijmegen Taster Weekend

Written by Cdt Heffernan

The Nijmegen Marches, also known as the Four Days Marches (Vierdaagse), is the largest road marching event in the world. Every year cadets from Kent Wing successfully completed the 160km route after months of training and preparation and will have walked over 400km (260 miles) during the training. It all starts with the Taster weekend . . .

I started off the weekend not knowing what to expect; all I knew was that it would be physically and mentally demanding. On the Friday evening we had our inspections to make sure all our kit was up to standard for the next day and we were briefed on what to expect over the weekend.

The Saturday morning was an early start (6am) and we set off; learning road marching drills as we went so we could prepare for the next day which was to be a 13-mile march. After we had spent the morning learning our drills, we had additional lessons on foot care and how to prevent blisters to help us stay strong whilst marching. Although this seems like a really odd topic for discussion it was actually really important and came to be of good use for me the following day when after 6 miles I recognised that I was developing a ‘hotspot’ which if I hadn’t dealt with would have resulted in a blister. After we had completed all of this we had another kit inspection making sure we were all ready for the march.

The weekend wasn’t just all about road marching and on the Saturday evening we had free time to socialise in the NAFFI. This provides a great opportunity to meet up with cadets from all over the wing.

The Sunday was another early start but the kind NCOs gave us a small lie in (20 minutes!), and once we had had breakfast we ran through a quick recap of the drills and then we set off on our march. We learnt many different road marching songs and made strong bonds with each other within such a small amount of time. This was our first experience of proper road marching teaching us what a typical training weekend would be like and I wish I could’ve stayed and done it for another day.