Here you can read the weblog of Johan Willemstein
Thursday, 28 March 2013
For years now, I have done my best to inform you on events and developments within our organisation, on our relationship with our partners, sponsors, politics and the city of Nijmegen and its surrounding towns, through this weblog. When I first started I steadily contributed a weblog every four weeks. But even I am starting to notice that there are other means of communication gaining ground and allowing recent events to become public before I even finish my weblog. Our organisation is also communicating with our participants more direct and more personal, via e-mail and as of last year via twitter and facebook. Personally, I am noticing that the necessity of writing is decreasing and that the contents of my weblog are therefore often a repetition of important activities and meetings that take place every year. The weblog does not add as much as it used to.
Furthermore, because of my busy schedule , the time to write is getting scarce. Therefore, I have decided not to make any more regular contributions to the weblog . If I happen to have an urgent reason to inform you on our organisation I might use this weblog again, but the message will appear via all other means of communication as well.
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your interest in these past years and for your reactions to my writings, and would like to refer you to facebook and twitter or to the news page on our website for future references.
Friday, 4 January 2013
2013! Happy New Year! I wish you prosperity and health! And – where possible – a lot of fun walking! Let's all look forward to the 97th Four Days Marches!
These first two weeks of January always feature a great many New Year's receptions, and I have receptions in my diary in Elst, Heumen, Beuningen and Arnhem, and at the Province of Gelderland to name but a few. They are great opportunities to maintain contact with my network, but I probably won't manage to attend all of them.
Speaking of my diary, it is already rather full. A discussion with our main sponsor New Balance, various meetings with the board of the Four Days Marches, our PR commission and the board of the Four Days Festivities are lined up for January. An initial presentation of the anniversary committee's plans for the 100th edition in 2016 is also in the pipeline, and I will be meeting with Omroep Gelderland, the Mayor of Gennep, the heads of departments of our volunteer organisation and the military delegation leaders (Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Great Britain and Canada). I know that my fellow board members also have very full diaries, featuring discussions with the Ministry of Defence on what form their support will take, with representatives of civil groups on the 2013 regulations, with the accountant on the annual reports, with the security consultation groups from Nijmegen and the surrounding municipalities, etc.
The budget has now been finalised and the registration fee for the 97th Four Days Marches has been set at € 50 (€ 48 in 2012). As our board member responsible for financial affairs (Ab Schreurs) said, "this is still under the cost price," which is true. He also said: "We don't need to make a profit!" Our loyal sponsors cover the rest of the cost price.
Registration will open at midnight at the start of Monday 4 February 2013. I have the same message as last year for all others wishing to take part in the Four Days Marches: don't stay up for it. It doesn't make a jot of difference whether you are the first or last to register!
Thursday, 6 December 2012
Just two months to go before registration opens again, for the 97th Four Days Marches this time. We've finished our evaluations, new agreements have been made/are currently being negotiated with government bodies and suppliers, the regulations have been/are being updated where necessary and we are hiring administrative staff for the Central Administration. Our 350 volunteers will also be invited to join the 2013 Executive Committee at some point in December.
Talks with the Dutch Ministry of Defence are progressing nicely when it comes to the most basic support, i.e. the construction and set-up of Camp Heumensoord (albeit with major cutbacks) and laying the pontoon bridge in Cuijk. A new agreement running up to 2017 inclusive is set to be signed in the first quarter of 2013. This will no longer cover the set-up of rest areas, so we are industriously searching for locations for the medical support posts. This also means we will have to make do with four medical support posts per day (including the one at the finish location) instead of five. Our search for appropriate locations may also force us to make (minor) changes to the route here and there.
We have decided to continue registering participants using wristbands, and we expect to be able to perform en-route checks without human intervention within three to four years. There will be some changes to the role and deployment of our much-valued checkpoint officials, who will also focus on other/new tasks within the organisation.
We have almost finished setting the budget, so we will be able to announce the registration fee soon. We expect that a (small) increase on 2012 will be unavoidable, but still, who can think of one thing that isn't getting more expensive? We will, however, continue to aim to simply cover our costs, as we are a not-for-profit organisation.
We still have most of December to come. Saint Nicholas has already left the Netherlands and Father Christmas will be here very soon, so let's enjoy that first.
Thursday, 8 November 2012
A lot of work has been put into internal and external evaluations since the end of the 96th Four Days Marches. Although almost all walkers seemed extremely satisfied, the evaluations have raised numerous points that we need to look at - a list of some 160 points for attention and improvement altogether, major and minor points, some of which will make a difference for the walker and some that will only be noticeable behind the scenes. Incidentally, this is quite normal and we end up with a list like this every year. I would like to highlight that we do not simply pat ourselves on the back after a successful event. We want to remain focused on quality and further improvement of the event and its image.
There are too many action points to list them all here, but I do want to mention a few important ones.
1. How should we register participants in future? Wristbands, lace chips, bar codes, punch cards: which direction will we be heading in and which criteria will we base this decision on?
2. How can we give De Wedren an even better set-up? Taking peak times (mainly Sunday afternoon and Friday afternoon) and pedestrian traffic into account.
3. Can we manage to have the entry on the second day actually pass through the centre of Nijmegen (i.e. over the Grote Markt, along Burchtstraat and past the town hall), in collaboration with Nijmegen City Council and the Four Days Festivities?
4. How can we make agreements with the twelve municipalities that the Four Days Marches pass through on the increasing demand for traffic controllers to be deployed, with the police increasingly withdrawing from this task?
5. How will the Ministry of Defence's increasing withdrawal affect our event? What can we maintain for an extended period and how can we guarantee participation of international military contingents?
6. Which steps can we and do we want to take on the road towards sustainability?
7. How is the 100th edition of our event casting its shadows and how will we need to prepare and make decisions for that?
We are busy discussing these and numerous other issues, and hope to be able to take some concrete steps in the near future. We will let the public know about these results as soon as possible.
Former publications can be found in History (button Event).