Meeting the Man with the Hammer -- literally (This is a Dutch way of saying you've completely blown up)
On the second day, I took the lead again after a few miles—My increased early tempo in large part thanks to the “Walking Express” song being stuck in my head. Each day would take us to another part of the beautiful forests surrounding the city of Apeldoorn. I spent some times walking the last few miles of day 2 with Ari, a speedwalker, who was part of the centurion association, a club of mostly English and Dutch speedwalkers that have completed 100 miles of speedwalking in less than 24 hours. Ari shared lots of details about the Dutch speedwalking scene with me, including a story about his wife’s 360K speedwalk in France—whoa! I finished day 2 (52K) in 6:24.Day three was going to be fast, because it was only 48K, but after only 12 Km, I ran into two guys on bicycles who were still putting up the yellow course-marking arrows. Apparently they had gotten lost in the forest while putting up the markers. I had just built up a 15-minute lead, but now I had to wait at each turn for these guys to put up signs. Oh well, time to look around a bit more and pick some delicious blueberries. Soon there was a group of six of us, walking slowly behind the sign guys. Many of the walkers up front were doing this Vierdaagse for the 5th, 10th, or even 25th time. A lot of them would also walk the Vierdaagse Nijmegen the following week, which is the largest four-day event in Holland, with about 40,000 walkers. After we merged with the 40K, the signs were up again and I pulled away again to finish in 6:24 again.
An added incentive for finishing quickly was that we could do fun things in the area. We visited the great Kroller-Muller museum, which has a huge Van Gogh collection, and on the second day we visited the monkey zoo Apenheul, which was a blast, because it had free-roaming monkeys. We also had many nice dinners and lunches in the area, including pancakes at one of Holland’s best pancake houses “’Het Vergulden Hert” (The Golden Deer).