Seasoned Nijmegen marcher ready to lead



PO1 Josh Barnes, Team Leader of the 2014 MARPAC Nijmegen team, raises funds during the team Boot Drive at the Dockyard Gate.

Lacing up his well-worn combat boots and hoisting his rucksack on his back, PO1 Josh Barnes is ready to take the 2014 Nijmegen March by its tulip-adorned horns.

Having participated in the four-day 160 kilometre march three years in a row, PO1 Barnes is more than prepared to take on the role as this year’s Maritime Force Pacific (MARPAC) team leader.

“It’s been an interesting experience seeing the team from this side of things,” says PO1 Barnes, who has acted as a marcher as well as 2IC for the team in the past. “I’m much more focused on the administration of the team – where we are in terms of training and seeing who among our candidates is ready for the march. Whereas the 2IC is focused on making sure everyone is happy, the team leader is making sure everyone is ready and being pushed to their limits.”

PO1 Barnes takes over from CPO1 Chris Koblun, who participated in the Nijmegen March eight years in a row.

“Last year, as 2IC, Chris acted as my mentor. I spent a lot of time talking to him about what it takes to lead a team,” says PO1 Barnes. “I’m so thankful for his experience. I picked up a lot of tricks and advice that has already proved invaluable.”

Right now, PO1 Barnes is focused on narrowing down the potential candidates from the current pool of 26 hopefuls. With only nine positions available on the team everyone has their work cut out for them.

“We started with 52 people, but once we got into marching 40 kilometres in our boots with a 35 pound pack people started dropping out fairly quickly,” says PO1 Barnes. “Marching for hours on end in combat boots with a full pack isn’t for everyone. Part of the training process is to work hard and weed out the people who just aren’t right for it. We’ve got a good group left.”

As the team leader, PO1 Barnes has given great thought to what it means to be a Nijmegen marcher, and has been scouting for the candidates who exemplify those traits.

“Whoever goes over there is representing the Canadian Armed Forces, representing MARPAC, and representing Canada. If you’re going to be waving the flag over there you’d better be in the right state of mind,” he says. “Everyone already has such a positive attitude so I’m very confident. We’ve already got a few stand-out candidates who love to lead the marching songs, and everyone is gelling well together.”

Now the hard part approaches – paring the training group down to just nine who will head to Nijmegen.

“Once June comes around and we’re choosing a team it’ll get a lot more difficult because everyone left is a completely valid candidate,” PO1 Barnes. “We’ve got a lot left to go, and it’s going to be hard, but I think everyone is really excited at the chance to represent their country. That’s what matters most.”


Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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