Microadventure: the Walk of the World
Always trying to achieve new and higher goals, that is what keeps me going. Doing the famous the Walk of the World was something I didn’t even think about for a long time since it was way above my skills. However, since 2 years I organize my own walks via Couchsurfing from about 20 to 30 km and I enjoyed them very much. Other Couchsurfers participated as well and slowly we started to become a walking group. It was unavoidable that we would once talk about the big Nijmeegse Vierdaagse event(in English called the International Four Day Marches Nijmegen). It is also called the Walk of the World, because it’s the largest multiple day performance walk in the world. Together with Anne and Mark we decided to participate.
After being lucky with the election of getting a start ticket we started to train more seriously. In total we trained about 150 km, which is far less than the recommended 500 km. It is even less than the distance we have to walk. Men have to walk 50 km per day for 4 consecutive days.
The Walk of the World is a true challenge. The mental strength is probably more useful than the physical strength. You need to be able to walk for 12 hours and realizing it in the first hour, without thinking about it too much. You need to be able to enjoy yourself during this time. Find someone to talk to, listen to some music, enjoy the surrounding or loose yourself in your own thoughts, but don’t become crazy by counting the clock. It will kill you. Perhaps I trained myself to be mental strong 2 years ago, on a microadventure in which I cycled to Glasgow and back from Deventer. I did do this without a mobile phone or watch. All I had is my own mind and the surrounding. This situation forced me to train my mental strength.
Walking 50 km was a new record for me. The thrill and support made it look much shorter. The first pain started and getting into the rhythm of waking up early and go to bed late was probably the hardest part. I got 2 small blisters at my small toes, which got taken care of.
The first part of the day was pain free. After a while the first blisters became sensitive again, but got treated. Most of the time I walked alone and listened to some music and to get lost in my own thoughts, something I really appreciate. Every now and then I talked to a stranger and exchanged some stories.
Anne fell out today. Yesterday was too much for her, so today she didn’t start. And perhaps this was a good move for her, because today was definitely the toughest day. The pain was killing me and the immense crowd in the last 15 km annoyed me. In the evening I was seriously thinking about quitting. My feet were burning and my mood has sunk to the bottom.
In the morning I decided to at least start and to see how it goes on the road. I don’t like giving up too easy. Against my point of view I took a painkiller. It seemed to help and soon I realized that I will be able to finish this challenge, if nothing strange would happen of course. Everyone got even more excited than the days before, which gave me some extra energy. The last 5 km existed of one big mass of people. After receiving some gladiolas we walked to the finish. We received four day cross, which is just a material reminder for me. For me it was about the personal challenge. Am I capable of doing this? Do I have enough willpower to continue while I’m in a bad mood? This challenge definitely made me stronger.
But if I had to say whether I liked the challenge or not, I’m not sure what to answer. There were parts which I liked, but walking with pain is not something I endorse. I think nobody does. But why do we do it? I see walking as a way to relax, be sportive and to see some surrounding. But this march is different because it has some extra elements. You walk with pain, in overcrowded streets and might not enjoy the walk entirely. For me, walking shouldn’t be this way, so at the moment I don’t think I will participate again. However, they say that you only remember the fun parts and that you might participate after rejecting the event in the first case.