Nijmegen Marches


Every year the air cadets offer the opportunity to take part in the annual Nijmegen walks in Holland, during a week late in July as part of the British military or civilian contingent along with 40,000 other people. The walk itself consists of 4 days of walking, doing 25 miles a day to walk 100 miles overall. For the 6 months before the event all participants must undergo training and qualifying events (seen below) If a participant is over 16 then may be entered on the military team (who will walk in DPM combats, and stay at the temporary military camp), under 16s will need to be on the civilian team (who will walk in civilian dress and stay in a youth hostel). At the start of each year all participants will start their training walks at Saint Martins Plain (SMP) which take place every 3 weeks, starting off short and easy going and gradually get tougher to make sure everyone is able to complete the first qualifying event.

RAF 2 Day March:

After roughly 4 months of training there is the first qualifying event, the RAF 2 Day march. This march takes place during April at RAF Cosford and consists of 2 days of walking, 25 miles each day. Even though it’s half of the distance of Nijmegen it’s still a very tough and enduring challenge, all participants must complete this march if they wish to progress to the cadet march and ultimately Nijmegen itself. This is also the first available chance to earn a medal.

Cadet March:

The next event after RAF 2 Day is the cadet march weekend, which is easier than the RAF 2 Day and is the only time where anyone from a participants squadron may take part even if they are not doing Nijmegen. Each squadron has the choice between three routes, 13, 27 or 42 kilometres, however regardless of the route anyone who completes the march will receive a medal (again even if they haven’t done RAF 2 Day).


Finally comes the event that you’ve been working towards for 6 months that makes it all worth it, the Nijmegen march, which will take place in late July. This is the biggest single sporting event in the world with around 40,000 participants and millions of spectators. The teams will assemble at their meeting points and travel by coach to Holland, the journey itself taking 14+ hours. the teams will have around 4 days to explore Nijmegen town, get used to their accommodation etc. On the following Tuesday the walking will start, teams will wake up at 02:00 get changed into their walking gear and go to breakfast and will normally start walking at around 04:00, all participants can be expected to be on the road for 10+ hours and walk 25 miles a day. On the last day the military team will need to complete the “military march past” with their medals, where you will  be marching with all the other Air cadet from other wings. Once this has been completed all participants will have officially completed the Nijmegen march. Even though it is a very tough and difficult event it is an experience you will never forget, it will make you very proud as you’re marching along regular armies from other countries including the USA, Germany, Finland and many more. As you’re marching along there will be millions of people cheering you on, really making you feel that you’re part of something big. Together with the singing, the teamwork, the vast numbers of participants and spectators and the pure difficulty, the sense of achievement for completing Nijmegen is unbelievably high as you join a very exclusive group of people. You won’t regret doing Nijmegen and will in fact be very glad you decided to do it as it is one of the most amazing experiences you’ll ever face.

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