The fifty-fourth annual Nijmegen marches drew to a colourful close on Friday (July 24) after four days of tramping through hundreds of miles of Dutch countryside.
GV From church to marchers over bridge
SV Majorettes marching
SV Belgian troops marching
SV British troops march past review stand with Prince George of Denmark on stand
SV TILT DOWN Swiss contingent with women marching
SV British police carrying flowers
SV Israeli girls marching
SV Prince George at review stand, PAN TO British cadets marching
LV Troops marching
SV Swiss contingent
SV Band passing
SV V.I.P. stand
SV Women handing out flowers to women marchers
SV Man from Curacao with flowers, marching
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Background: The fifty-fourth annual Nijmegen marches drew to a colourful close on Friday (July 24) after four days of tramping through hundreds of miles of Dutch countryside.
Fourteen thousand servicemen and civilians from all over the world sent contingents to Nijmegen this year, among them 1,000 Britons -- the largest single national group.
The march, said to be the longest of its kind anywhere in the world, is organised by the Royal Netherlands League for Physical Culture. The walks were started in 1909 as a test of stamina for League members, but has since expanded to include men, women and children of over twenty nationalities.
The marches have been held every year, except for the war years, and provide the local inhabitants with a type of carnival. Those who take part in the events, however, treat the venture seriously. All marchers are allocated routes and distances varying from 18 miles to 32 miles a day for the four days. Soldiers are expected to carry heavy kits as part of their course.
Failure of any one person to complete the programme means instant disqualification for the unit's entire team. In mild weather, the marches can be pleasant excursions, but with uncertain conditions of heat and rain such as the marchers faced this year, the walks can become a test of the survival of the fittest.
On the final day, about 150,000 people lined the final route into Nijmegen's town centre for the four-hour march. Members of the Dutch Royal Family and Prince George of Denmark took the reviewing stand to receive the salutes of the military contingents.