Charlottetown native Capt. Jana Gorveatt set for rigorous Nijmegan March

Jim Day
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Charlottetown native Capt. Jana Gorveatt, front left, has been training since March to take part in the rigorous Nijmegan March in the Netherlands July 17 to 20.

Capt. Jana Gorveatt is set to march into an emotional battle.

The 32-year-old Charlottetown native is one of 11 soldiers from CFB Shilo in Manitoba taking part in the rigorous Nijmegen March in the Netherlands July 17 to 20.

The Canadian military has been participating since 1952 in the annual event that involves a four-day, 160-km march in combat uniform carrying a minimum rucksack load of 10 kilograms.

In total, the event annually draws more than 40,000 marchers from 50 different nations and is witnessed by more than one million spectators along the 160-km route.

Gorveatt, a logistics officer with the Armed Forces, has been training for the Nijmegen March since March, marching some 1,000 kilometres in total with a heavy rucksack in preparation.

She feels up to the challenge, noting she will approach each daily 40-kilometre trek as four 10-kilometre “chunks’’ at which point the soldiers get a short rest to refuel.

Gorveatt is more intent on bracing for how the outing will play on her mind and weigh on her heart than how it will impact her physically.

“I have heard it is a really overwhelming and emotional experience,’’ she said.

The Nijmegan March can play on emotion because it is the largest annual pilgrimage of Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen to a war cemetery outside of Canada.

During the Second World War, Canadian soldiers liberated the area around Nijmegen, and there is a large Canadian military cemetery in nearby Groesbeek that serves as the final resting place for more than 2,300 Canadian soldiers and airmen.

The cemetery is on the route of the third day of the march and all military marchers halt there to pay their respects and conduct remembrance services.

“I think mentally the entire team is good: well prepared,’’ said Gorveatt.

 Gorveatt, who is the daughter of Cindy Long of Cornwall and Brian Gorveatt of Charlottetown, graduated from UPEI in 2006 with a nutrition degree.

She joined the Canadian Armed Forces in September 2008, rising to the rank of captain in four years.

Army life, she says, has proven a good fit.

“I find it’s a very close-knit community,’’ she said.

“Everybody is there for each other. There is a lot of team work.’’

Organizations: Canadian Armed Forces

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Nijmegen, Manitoba Netherlands

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  • Trevor Leclerc
    July 09, 2012 - 09:28

    I participated in the the march in 1978 (as part of the photography project) and was moved beyond belief by the crowds. (I marched for only one half of one day. Instead of the full combat gear worn by the active servicemen, we were carrying only 15 lbs of photography gear. Even that was surprisingly tiring. The It was amazing to see the greetings to the soldiers from the allied nations along the entire length of the liberation route. It was an exhausting but uplifting experience that deepened my understanding of the effort that was made and what it meant to those for whom they all fought. I was proud to be a Canadian and grateful to our troops who earned the love for our country I was witnessing. I proudly watched my father march.