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13,000 people take part in the “Procession of the Dead”

Around 13,000 people have taken part in this year’s Procession of the Dead. The Procession of the Dead is a 100 kilometre walk through three provinces that starts and finishes at Bornem in Antwerp Province. This year’s walk was the 50th to have been organised.  To mark this a number of the sections that were included in the Procession of Death’s early history such as Terlinden in Merchem and the walk between Steenhuffel and Londerzeel (all Flemish Brabant) were included in this year’s route. 

The walk is becoming more and more international with participant taking part from 38 countries. The oldest walker was 91, the youngest 15. On Thursday a group of 35 hiking diehards marked the procession’s 50th anniversary by doing the 100km course back to front. 28 of them started on the walk proper on Friday evening, after having had just a few hours rest.

The Procession of Death’s Spokeswoman Ilse Robyn told VRT News "We are surprised ourselves at the interest in this year’s 50th edition. Unfortunately it was so great that we have had to turn people down. For safety reasons we are not able to accept more than 13,000 participants. Some of the route is narrow and a lot of people asked not to let it get too big. Since last year we’ve put a limit on the number of participants”.

A total of 1,300 volunteers were on hand to ensure that everything ran smoothly. 300 Red Cross volunteers ensured that blisters, cramp and other walking-related ailments could be treated swiftly.

The first walkers started arriving across the finishing line on Saturday morning. As it is a walk and not a race participants have a full 24 hours (from 9pm on Friday) to complete it.