The FreeWalkers have an opportunity to participate in this well-established international 50-mile walking event in Sittard, Netherlands on Saturday, April 19, 2014. We have been graciously invited and encouraged to attend an event that is not just a long walking tradition but a global community experience.
The Kennedy-Mars Sittard Walk came into existence in 1963 when the American president John F.Kennedy spoke the words "I think most American people are so weak, they can't even walk fifty miles within 20 hours". At many places people tried to prove these words didn't apply to them. In Sittard, four high school students started the first Kennedy Walk. It developed into a tradition.
In 2013 the number of participants was 2906. This is the oldest continuous 50-mile walking event in the world and a great community event as well as international challenge. Participants always seem to want to come back again, year after year.
The distance to be covered is 80 km (about 50 miles). It must be completed within 20 hours. It is only permitted to walk or speed-walk. Running or jogging is not allowed. Roads are hardsurfaced. The route is marked by arrows. Registration cost is 20 Euros. We register at the City Sport Hall (our starting point) on Friday 18 April and will be prepared to set out by 5:00 a.m.
Ad Van Der Loo is our primary contact and one of the original founders of the walk in 1963. Ray Smith befriended Ad last year as he walked this event for the third time and was asked to speak to the entire congregation of 3,000 last year, representing the FreeWalkers in the U.S. Ad has promised to encourage others to attend our events in the future. You can read Ray’s account of last year’s event here.
All FreeWalkers are invited with a limited number of friends and family to join the Kennedy-Mars Sittard for 2014. Ad Van Der Loo has arranged for 10 families to volunteer to host our walkers for the nights of April 18 & 19. The event only requires a registration fee of 20 Euros. There is plenty of refreshments provided along the way.
This is a chance to visit a country known for his beauty and hospitality - and walking (and biking), which Europeans enjoy in a whole different way. While there are shorter events also available for this walk, we are seeking others that are willing to walk the full 50-miles in unison with us.
Ray and Paul are planning to spend a couple days in Amsterdam (April 16-17) before we head to Sittard on Friday to meet Ad and to register for the walk (march). Depending on who and how many are interested we can determine the best and most economical lodging, if you want to consider those factors as a group. That's up to you.
Ray and Paul will be flying out separately to Amsterdam. You must book your own flights. Flight will range from $1,200 to $1,500 round trip from Newark International at this point. Other costs would be lodging in Amsterdam (which is optional or could be shared with Ray and Paul).There would be minimal cost in Sittard as we would be hosted by Dutch families.
Call Ray Smith (703)-732-7724 or Paul Kiczek (973)-214-1811