Despite the Coronavirus, the March goes on!

The first distance marching event of the Reserve Sports Association (RESUL) of Finland mobilised more than seven hundred marchers this past summer. Marches were performed not only in Finland but also in other countries around the world.

By 1st Lt. Susanna Takamaa, Finnish Reserve Officer Federation/ CIOR Public Affairs

The Vierdaagse 2020 march in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, was canceled in the spring due to the prevailing corona situation. In different marching groups, both on social media and in groups of friends, alternative events were considered, but organising marches in exceptional circumstances seemed difficult in principle.

March participants walked by themselves, when and how far they wanted – and at their own pace. Photo: Susanna Takamaa.

An army and outdoor store from Finland called Varusteleka organised a long-distance military march in April and this served as a good starting point for the national long-distance marching idea amongst other long-distance marches.

Organised in just four months

Eventually, RESUL carried out a four-day marching event organised in just two months, mainly by volunteers. The Finnish Reserve Officers ‘Association, the Reservists’ Association and the National Defense Guilds Association constituted the ‘background forces’, and the More Movement (“Lisää liikettä” in Finnish) was added as an important partner.

The event was set up to be an easy marching event to take part in, that everyone could attend according to his or her own fitness level. The long-distance march was held during Vierdaages week, and two of the four marching days were scheduled over the weekend so that as many people as possible would be able to participate. Participants could chose whether they’d like to walk for one, more or all of the four days.

Flexibility for participants

The lack of pre-registration provided flexibility for participation, as one could leave for the march even on the last day of the march. The minimum requirement was set at ten kilometers and there were no time limits for completing the march. Everyone was encouraged to join, regardless of military rank – or even without one.

For many marching reservists, the RESUL Four Day March became the marching event of the summer to replace the canceled ‘Vierdaagse’. Similar events were organised all over Europe to uphold the marching spirit of the Nijmegen event.

Surprised by high attendance across the world

The popularity of the RESUL Four Day March eventually surprised the organisers. During the four days, about 750 participants took part in the march, of which as many as a hundred marched abroad, for example in Germany, Switzerland, UK, the United States and Japan.

If much else was different this time, the 2020 marching event was recognisable in at least one way – sore feet! Photo: Susanna Takamaa.

 

 

Top