The Dutch Afghanistan veteran Anton Nooteboom (34) completed a 3,000-kilometer monster trek through Australia on Sunday.
The 'Barefoot Dutchman' from Goes in Zeeland, who left for Australia in 2015, walked an average of 25 kilometers a day for five months and raised 75,000 Australian dollars (about 48,000 euros) for men's mental health.
"It has been quite a walk," says Nooteboom by telephone from Australia.
"It was unbelievably heavy, especially because of all the stones sticking in your feet. Although people were a bit disappointed when they saw the bottoms of my feet, because they actually still look very good. But inside everything is bruised and broken ."
Nooteboom was employed by the Ministry of Defense for ten years and was deployed to Afghanistan three times.
He left for Australia, faced psychological problems and found relief in walking barefoot.
"But also by talking about it. You notice that there is a taboo among veterans on discussing feelings of suicide and depression. That is why I made this trip to draw attention to that."
To increase publicity, he chose to walk barefoot, he says.
"A regular 3,000-kilometre tour generates much less publicity than barefoot. No, I haven't practiced for that. Nothing can prepare you for such a trip. I wanted to show that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. 'Leading by example'."
That journey took him from Cairns in the north of Australia to right outside his front door in Sydney and earned him two Guinness Book of World Records, including for the longest barefoot trek.
A few hundred people walked the last kilometers with him, now it's time for a beer.
"I am incredibly wrecked, I will not do anything for the next two or three weeks and rest and recover."Keywords: anton nooteboom, australia, barefoot dutchman, monster trek, hike, man, dutch, afghanistan, average, zeeland, goes, people, men, mental health, taboo