The "Four Days of the Yser" is an international march, organized by the Belgian Defence. This annual 'military exercise' is open to civilians and military, Belgians as well as foreigners.
The walking event pursues three goals :
- to strengthen the bond between Defense and the Society by bringing the military and the civilians together during a common sports effort
- to respectfully commemorate the casualties of both World Wars, particularly those who fell on the battlefields of the Westhoek during the First World War
- to introduce the hikers to the historical and tourist valuesof the Westhoek in a pleasant way
The Artillery Battaljon, which is partly stationed at the Belgian Northsea coast, is in charge of the organisation of the four-day walk. For the execution of this mission, the Battaljon get assistance from the Competence Centre Support Equipment and Products of Ypres, the First Element Medical Intervention (1EMI), the Military Police and the Military Command of the West Flanders Province. The organization runs in close cooperation with cities of Koksijde, Nieuwpoort, Diksmuide, Poperingeand Ieper (Ypres).
Every year, the Executive Committee of the Four Days of the Yser offers four days of hiking pleasure to the walkers during the first complete week following 15 August (Assumption is an official holiday in Belgium). The secretariat determines and draws a 8, 16, 24 and a 32 km route for every day. A number of rules, according to a fixed pattern, are strictly observed (exeptions are always possible) :
- the opening ceremony, and the arrival of the first day always take place in Koksijde-Oostduinkerke, the municipality that holds the roots of the Four Days
- it is our ambition that the route of the first day will always include a passage on the territory of Nieuwpoort, the last city on the Western Front of the First World War. Exceptions are not excluded
- the arrival of the last day, the closing ceremony + parade of all participants and the start of one of the four days (usually of the fourth day) will always take place in the city of Ieper (Ypres), the legendary symbol of W.W. I
- the remaining arrival places are located in the other 'Western Front' cities Poperinge and Diksmuide