søndag, juli 20, 2014

Crazy? Guy did the Nijmegen Marches at sea – on a treadmill!

A mentally not well Dane treadmill-walking on board the
pirate-hunter HDMS Esbern Snare.
So what to do if you are sure to miss your 14th participation in the Four Day Marches in Nijmegen? Commander Thorbjørn Hein from Denmark was in this unfortunate situation. A naval staff officer, he is currently on board HDMS Esbern Snare in the Indian Ocean as part of NATO’s counter-piracy Operation Ocean Shield; he had to look at alternative ways to get his annual Nijmegen fix.

Read below to see what he did.

A stupid idea
- I had been reading all the status updates from marching friends on Facebook; how they were preparing for Nijmegen, how much they were looking forward to it. I was very envious! And then the idea started growing in my head: I could do four days of marching in parallel with the happy people in the Netherlands, says Thorbjørn Hein.
First day done - just past 2300 local time.
Clutching the "beloved" rucksack ...

The only option to carry out this pretty insane idea would be completing the walk on a treadmill. Without having conducted any real marching since he came on board HDMS Esbern Snare in the end of May, Thorbjørn Hein donned uniform, boots, and the mandatory 10 kilo backpack and stepped up on the treadmill on the morning of Tuesday 15 July.

- I regretted that decision many times in the following days! Like, REALLY, the commander says empathically.
- I had to get up several hours before my daily duties begin in the SNMG1 staff at 0800 to get a head start, and then use every opportunity during the day to get some walking done. Despite of that, I still had to do most of the kilometres after the evening briefing, which ends the regular office hours. Especially the evenings were hellish.

No beer at all. Nope, none at all
One evening Thorbjørn Hein wasn’t done marching before 2300 hours, and still had to be on the treadmill again at 0430 the next morning.

Morning of day 2.
Deserted gym, except for the lone wanderer.
- It was horrible, honestly. The real march in the Netherlands is one, long party, and at the end of the route you have the comraderie in Camp Heumensoord to look forward to. Here, I had the same view of a deck and the bulkheads and was mostly only in my own company.

There was also another missing factor:

This lovely view for about 24 hours ...
- No cold beer during or after the walk, no beer at all, since all Royal Danish Navy ships are 100% 'dry' when at sea, Thorbjørn Hein says with a very pained expression on his face, but adding that a strict no alcohol policy on warships is as it should be. Just too bad for him in this instance.

As the days went by, curious members of the crew started approaching the strange sight on the treadmill and asked him what he was up to.

No way back when committed
- Many people asked whether I were march training for a specific purpose. When I explained what I was doing, there were one or two stares and/or statements of disbelief. Even if most - or maybe everybody - that I talked with thought the project was crazy, people were supportive. It was too late to back out, anyway. There was no way I was going to quit after the cat was out of the bag.

Would he do it again?

- You better believe I wouldn't, the answer comes promptly and with a crooked smile, but I don't regret doing it. Next year, hopefully, I can participate in the real deal in Nijmegen. Cheers to everybody who had the pleasure in 2014. See you in 2015, Commander Thorbjørn Hein concludes the interview with himself.

Daily distances for military marchers as per the www.4daagse.nl/en/ webpage.

Morning day 3. Simulating having lots of energy. Deception, though, pure deception. Notice daypack on back, weighing in at 10.0 kg.

Backpack has been thrown to the deck! The final 5 kilometres of day 4 were done like in the real Four Day marches, namely with no weight.

There is a general consensus that treadmills “help” the runner or walker a little bit, but that the lack of wind resistance etc. can be equalled out by inclining the surface 1 %. That was done during this march. Here just 700 metres from FINALLY finishing.

And it's done, and he's just about done for ... 168 km in four days. The temperature was at a steady 28 degrees with a humidity of about 95%. Perspiration was profuse.
Not enough kilometres done before breakfast on day 1, which meant that there was a lot to catch up on for the rest of the day. A stretch of 6 kilometres was done in 45 minutes, for example. That day of high speed laid the foundation of some solid blisters - some with blood, some just with water. Note the one on the middle of the foot. Small as it is, it was immensely more painful than anything else endured during the walk.

Check these great Facebook pages for the NATO fleet

Here you will find a lot more pictures like the ones below.

HDMS Esbern Snare at full steam. Picture taken from a Canadian Sea Hawk.

Danish Special Operations Forces fast-rope from a Super Lynx helicopter.

Sailor on the lookout while HDMS Esbern Snare passes through the Suez Canal in June.

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And again: please check out the naval pages:

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