MARPAC Nijmegen team starts training

Peter Mallett, Lookout Members of MARPAC’s Nijmegen marching team at Roache Cove in Sooke.

Peter Mallett, Lookout
Members of MARPAC’s Nijmegen marching team at Roache Cove in Sooke.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Step by step, over hill and over dale, military members hoping for a spot on the MARPAC Nijmegen team are kicking up plenty of dust as they master long marches on the trail.

Last Friday, 18 members dressed in CADPAT and boots with a 12-kilogram rucksack on their back tackled 40 kilometres.

They started just after dawn from Roache Cove in Sooke, marching along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail to their final destination of Work Point.

“This is the gravy of being in the military,” said team leader, Lt(N) Marianne Knai.

“When you are lucky enough to be given the opportunity by the chain of command to come out here and spend the day marching with like-minded people, it’s an amazing experience.”

Those lucky enough to make the team will join a long legacy of marchers in Holland July 19 to 22 for the Nijmegen Four Days International Marches.

Over 42,000 participants will march 40km over four days – for the MARPAC team, they will join 14 other Canadian military teams.  

The most gruelling part of the marching is the toll it takes on the mind and body. From muscle strains to blisters to dehydration and boredom, those tough enough to traverse the Dutch countryside must train well.

MARPAC’s team potentials have been at it since February, and won’t know their fate until early June.  

Joining Lt(N) Knai is second-in-command WO Kevin Legg, who has once before endured the training and Nijmegen marches.

“Having Kevin as our 2IC again this year is incredible,” said Lt(N) Knai. “Many of the marchers on this year’s team don’t know about his inspirational story of strength and courage because Kevin is such private and humble individual, but they should know about it.”

What Lt(N) Knai is referring to is the injuries he sustained from an improvised explosive device detonation during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2008.

The lower portion of his lungs is permanently damaged, as is his left kneecap and tendons in his leg.

But that has not deterred him from having another go at the 160 kilometres.

“Last year, in the weeks following the march, I thought that my marching days were over. But after about a month of being back at home I realized I would really miss the experience and camaraderie,” he says.

WO Legg says he and the rest of the team hopefuls have one extra goal in mind for this year’s Nijmegen – recapturing the Canadian Armed Forces’ Woodhouse Trophy from last year’s winners, the National Capital Region.

The trophy is awarded to the top Canadian military contingent at the March.

“We want the trophy back at MARPAC where it belongs,” says WO Legg.

“This desire will give the team something to strive for and I have no doubts that when we get to the event we will be first in every day.”

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