The Dodentocht (English: Death march) is a long-distance march of 100 kilometers organized annually in Bornem, Belgium, since 1970. The grueling march[1] is worthy of its name due to the length of the march and the rough and forested terrain. For the 2010 edition, some 10,600 participants have registered.[2]



In 41 years the Dodentocht has become one of the most important hiking happenings in Europe. Begun in 1970 with 69 participants, it has grown into an event with over 10,000 hikers. There are no rankings or records; the reward is a certificate and a medal. Marchers have come from many countries, including the United States,[3] the United Kingdom,[1] and Germany.[4]

The Dodentocht is organised by the non profit organisation Kadee Dodentocht, assisted by the non profit Youth Centre Kadee. Approximately 600 members of the organisation are involved during the event itself. In the 2010 edition (held on 13/14 August), marchers were followed on the official site via a tracking system, utilizing small RFID tags attached to the walkers shoes that are automatically scanned at each of the 15 checkpoints and at additional random points along the route.[5] Many of the marchers return year after year; in 2003, Marc de Vulder finished the march for the 24th consecutive time.[6]

The organizers have adopted a motto, "Walking for a better world"; many of the participants walk for charities.[1][7]

Since the course is closed for non-participants, some of the churches along the route have been forced to reschedule church services[8]; the pastor of the local federation of churches, Pastor Maervoet, will participate in the march in 2009, for the fifth time.[9]

Local companies that support the event have led to some unique features in this event. The route of the walk passes through the premises of several companies. These include, at 15km, the factory of a popular sports drink, at 40km, the Duvel brewery in Breendonk - with free beer for all walkers and at 50km, the Palm brewery in Steenhuffel - again with a free beer for all the walkers.

If a walker completes the route in under 24 hours then they are awarded a certificate confirming their timings, a medal, badge and a pineapple.

On August 14, 2010, a walker collapsed 300 meters short of the finish line and died from cardiac arrest. The walker had already walked the Dodentocht 5 times and was properly trained. The event was not cancelled, but the festivities celebrating the arrival of the last walkers did not take place.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Wallin, James (2009-08-10). "Friends dare to do the death march". Swindon Advertiser. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  2. ^ Debrouwere, Lotte; Liesbeth Boel (2009-08-06). "Kris Peeters gaat samen met zoon Karel de Dodentocht wandelen: 'Mijn zoon is geen opgever. En ik ook niet'" (in Dutch). Het Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  3. ^ Kamprath, Michael F.. "The "Death March" of Bornem, Belgium: The story of five Americans' struggle to finish". Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  4. ^ "Schnell wie die Feuerwehr" (in German). Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. 2009-08-10. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  5. ^ "Bornemse Dodentocht omarmt eID en RFID". Datanews. 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  6. ^ Vlieger, John de (2003-08-19). "'Het is vechten tegen jezelf': Deinzenaar rijgt de Dodenmarsen aan elkaar" (in Dutch). Het Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  7. ^ "Dodentocht voor goeie doel (G'bergen)". Radio MiG. 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  8. ^ "Dodentocht Gaat Niet Ongemerkt Voorbij". Kerknet. 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  9. ^ "Dodentocht stoort kerkelijke hoogdag". 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 

External links

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