Supervisors join marchers to experience the grind

Nijmegen marchers and their commanding officers complete their 10-kilometre march at Work Point, June 20.

Nijmegen marchers and their commanding officers complete their 10-kilometre march at Work Point, June 20.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Two officers joined the Nijmegen marching team to experience what it’s like to walk in full gear, even for a few kilometres.

Lt(N) Greg Oickle, Executive Officer of Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific), marched alongside unit member LS Sara MacAleese for eight kilometres from Work Point to Saxe Point Park and back.

“I haven’t marched like this since basic training, so my biggest challenge was not stepping on people’s toes, and staying in step with the group,” said Lt(N) Oickle. “This is a fantastic opportunity for her; she’s really committed to it and I’m more than happy to be supporting her on this march.”

Team leader, Lt(N) Marianne Knai says it’s important to have superior officers see for themselves just what they are supporting when they authorize time away from the regular job.

“We wouldn’t be able to participate in Nijmegen without the support of our chain of command,” she says.

Experiencing a march makes it easier to explain the hardship, says LS MacAleese.
“It’s hard to explain to your superiors about the event and what we actually do, so it’s nice to have someone from the unit come out and see the results of our training, and how we have been investing all this time away from work,” said Ls MacAleese.

Capt Keil Monette-Saillant, Deputy Engineering Officer from Real Property Operations, paired up with the team’s second in charge WO Kevin Legg. He said the experience brought back some good memories. That’s because Capt Monette-Saillant is a former Nijmegen marcher and participated with the Royal Military College team six years ago.

He said he had no hesitation granting WO Legg’s request to participate in the march for the second time.

“It was really easy for me to grant Kevin his time-off request because I have done this myself, understand the importance of the event and what it’s all about,” said Capt Monette-Saillant. “This team is in good form. They really look good together; they stay in step and keep their form, and what’s even better is the camaraderie is strong and they keep their spirits up with jokes and laughter.”

The MARPAC team has been preparing for the July 19 to 22 International Four Days Marches Nijmegen since early February. It brings together over 42,000 participants from around the world who march 40 kilometres for four consecutive days.

In order to work their way up to competing in the physically gruelling event, the MARPAC team started off with short marches along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail in the first few weeks of training. Then they gradually worked themselves up to a distance of 40 km, marching from Roche Point in Sooke to Work Point multiple times each week and eventually over three consecutive days.

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