Training starts soon for 2018 MARLANT Nijmegen team
By Ryan Melanson,
There’s nearly five months to go before the 2018 edition of the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, but for CAF members hoping to participate in the annual test of endurance in the Netherlands, the time to begin training is now.
About 50 potential marchers recently attended an early information session at Tribute Tower, and the very first 10km training march is set for March 26 at 6 a.m. from Point Pleasant Park. Distances ramp up from there, and by early June, those still in the running will be marching back-to-back 40km days through Halifax and Dartmouth to prove their mettle.
“This is one of the most amazing opportunities you can get in your career, but it’s going to be hard work and it’s a very competitive process to be chosen,” said SLt Jamie Conrod, who led the 2017 team and is serving as an interim team leader until a successor is selected for this year.
The event itself consists of four consecutive days of 40km marches in and around the Dutch city of Nijmegen. It began in 1916 solely as a military exercise for the country’s armed forces, but has grown to attract as many as 6,000 military personnel and 40,000 civilians from 50 countries each year. Uniformed marchers are required to complete the 160km course carrying 10kg of dry weight, and though they march a different route than civilians, overlapping sections allow all the marchers to cross paths and meet other groups along the way. The CAF normally sends 13-15 teams to the marches, with MARLANT and MARPAC being the main Navy teams, though Army and RCAF personnel who work with Formation Halifax or Esquimalt are also permitted.
The marches can be physically grueling, even with proper training, and sore, battered feet are to be expected, but the experience isn’t just about the physical test, SLt Conrod said.
“It’s a lot more than just four days in the Netherlands. It’s about the people you meet, the teamwork, the camaraderie and the perseverance, and about representing yourself and your country.”
But only a lucky few make the final cut each year. The MARLANT team in its final form will be made up of 11 members, including one team leader, a 2IC, and a medic, leaving just 8 free spots for other members. Some drop out during early in training and some get injured or pulled away for operational requirements, but with so many interested in participating each year, even sticking it out and completing all training requirements doesn’t mean a spot on the team is guaranteed.
The minimum standard requires a total of 500km in training marches , including the two back-to-back 40km days, along with an optimistic attitude, friendly and social interactions with teammates, and the ability to pass periodic foot inspections. Beyond that, things like attendance and dedication to training days, overall physical fitness, interpersonal skills, and whether the member has attended Nijmegen in the past are all considered in making the final selections.
Training will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays (10km), with Friday marches starting at 10km and increasing in distance each week. Some absences are expected, though the minimum training requirements must be met by June, and attendance is a major factor in final team selection. The first weeks are open to all marchers, but full COC approval for training and deploying is required to continue with the team after April 12.
Anyone interested who hasn’t yet connected with SLt Conrod can reach him at 902-427-6222 or Jamie.Conrod@forces.gc.ca for more information or application forms.
Timeline for Nijmegen 2018 training
March 26 – Training begins at 6 a.m. at Point Pleasant Park lower lot
April 4 – Physio lecture, 8 a.m. at WP106
April 6 – Food for Fuel lecture, 8 a.m. at WP106
April 12 – COC authorization forms due for marchers
April 16 – CADPAT issued and required for further marching
May 1 – Marching with weight begins at 5 kg
May 22 – Full 10kg weight begins
June 5 – Training phase ends, team tryouts begin
June 7 & 8 – Two 40km marches must be completed
June 11 – Final team members announced
June 15 – Mandatory marching with final team begins
July 12-23 – OP NIJMEGEN deployment