Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers
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Outstanding achievement for 24 CIOR members taking part in major event "From Vierdaagse to Nijmegen"

"À cœur vaillant rien d'impossible" (where there is a will there is a way). Such is the famous motto of the wealthy French trader and banker who left his mark in the beautiful city of Bourges ! Such a motto could have been that of the team which brilliantly sported CIOR colours for the famous Nijmegen march.
"From Vierdaagse to Nijmegen" otherwise called the 4 days of Nijmegen is one of the three major world events in the field of athletic walking, together with the « Big Walk » in South Africa  and the "Dodentocht" in Belgium.

Launched in the early 20th century, this walk gathers 45 000 to 50 000 participants each year, among whom 5 000 military personnel representing several countries as well as a variety of NATO units.

The distance to be covered varies between 30 to 50 km. As for military personnel, they have to cover a little over 160 km in 4 days, remaining as a platoon and carrying a 20 lbs load, not including supplies.

Even if these figures may be quite daunting at first glance, the French Presidency took up the challenge and set up for the first time an international team representative of CIOR member-countries. Better still, CIOR President, Commander (R) Richard Roll took part thereby stressing how important this initiative was for the confederation.

24 representatives from more than 5 member-countries, NATO partners and observers – The Netherlands, Estonia, Sweden, France, South Africa – showed the CIOR emblem on the roads of the Gelderland province. In order to strengthen the international aspect of the project, the leadership of the team was Franco-Dutch : Major Jan Maiden ( leader of the Dutch detachment in Nijmegen in 2012) and CASP (R) Jean-marc Seignez (PfP committee).

Last arrivals reached Camp Heumensoord on Monday. After a get together meeting, the end of the day was devoted to final preparation.
First of all we had to compose two by two teams in order to compensate varying levels of fitness and training among the walkers. Two experienced Dutchmen, one of whom had already successfully completed the march 25 times, held the heavy responsibility of setting a regular pace for the CIOR over the four days. So as to foster the achievement of neophytes, those who had already completed the march several times were teamed up with those taking part for the fist time.
CIOR walkers then had to become familiar with orders in English and, above all, to march in a military way in order to give the best image of the confederation      whenever entering a saluting zone or a resting area.  
As early as Tuesday morning, matters became serious. For 4 days in a row, the team got up between 2 and 3 am and walked a marathon distance each day under an exhausting heat. In spite of physical and moral suffering, made sometimes worse by blisters and traumatic pain, the team kept up its togetherness and good humour. The more distance was covered, the stronger mutual support increased.  Tiredness required an extra individual contribution of physical and mental resources so as to overcome what appeared sometimes to be sheer hell.
Every night, CIOR walkers gathered in Camp Heumensoord to rest and relax ; a special moment both to attend to one’s sores and to share the memories of the day. However quite soon enough, the walk was on again. You had to get ready for the next day and, above all, catch a few hours’ sleep before an early rise.
In spite of tiredness, the team didn’t overlook the duty to remember especially those who fell in Operation Market Garden and we paid them tribute first at the Canadian cemetery in Groesbeek and then when crossing the Grave bridge. At the cemetery, CIOR members took part in a remembrance ceremony and honoured at the official monument those who died in the Second World War.  This moment allowed walkers to put in perspective their own pain which was nothing when compared to the sufferings of those who were on the same roads in 1944.

Once the official march over, we had to take part in the parade on Via Gladiola or Gladiola avenue. Members of the CIOR team paraded over 4 km, marching behind the Dutch band and each holding a gladiolus flower. In keeping with tradition, the flowers are presented to patients watching the finale from their hospital beds alongside the avenue. Once again, this offering allows walkers to transcend their suffering.

The atmosphere had been convival and friendly throughout the 4 days and soared to a rather indescribable climax at the finish. The crowd was such that the avenue couldn’t accommodate all the enthusiastic spectators who were almost hysterical and had to take shelter on the balconies and roofs all along the 4 km route.
The participation of a CIOR team to the 97th "4 daagse" entails very good results.
CIOR members successfully achieved the 4 daily prescribed marathons and gave a youthful, sporty, brotherly and dynamic image to the local population as well as to the active duty and military reserve personnel who walked along the Dutch routes. Moreover the walk offered an opportunity to exchange views with other walkers, both civilian and military, on what CIOR is, the values it conveys and the important part it plays with NATO.
The fact that for the first time ever the acting president of CIOR actually took part also had very good effects in two directions. 
Firstly, it had a positive impact on team-members in order to motivate them to reach the goal and to follow instructions given by the two team-leaders. Everyone was keen to give the best possible image of CIOR and refused to give up in spite of physical pain or moral strain.
Secondly, Commander (R) Richard Roll had an opportunity to get in touch with Cos, camp military authorities and local TV channels in order to promote the confederation. These exchanges proved very fruitful and induce CIOR to carry on with its involvement in this event and to make provisions for other countries to take part as well in years to come.

"From Vierdaagse to Nijmegen" may look like a feat. To speak the truth, this 163 km march requires serious physical and mental endurance capabilities. It may be sheer hell for those who didn’t properly train beforehand since it is not just a ramble for those who did train well.  This enhances all the more the achievement of the 24 CIOR team-members.
This is however a moving experience based on brotherly support and the crowd’s enthusiasm which allow walkers to reach the finish-line.
It is important that CIOR takes part again in 2014 and that other countries join in this initiative for the 98th edition. This indeed will be a privileged opportunity for exchanges between reservists from different countries and for the promotion of the confederation and its values.

© 2012 Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers