Photographer:Fotograaf: Bilbo Schickenberg
It is the largest student event in the Netherlands: the Batavierenrace. A relay race from Nijmegen to Enschede; 175 kilometres divided into 25 stages. More than 8,500 students will participate in the race on 27 April, held for the 41st time this year. Many sports, study and student associations put together a team to join, but every university also sends a team of their fastest runners to take part in the University Competition.
Maastricht University has addressed the issue of putting its team together in a professional way for the past three years. Three team leaders, Celeste van Rinsum, Stefan van Schendel, and Famke Mölenberg, are responsible for the runners, but also for the organisation around the event. “The last thing you want is for the minibus containing the runners to arrive late at a relay point,” says Van Schendel. “It’s our job to take care of that. Just like meals and a place to sleep; the race starts at nighttime so we get there the day before.” All runners must be accompanied by a cyclist. They cycle ahead of the runner to indicate the route and also to coach along the way.
The team leaders have all participated themselves in the past. “Normally running is an individual sport, this is an opportunity to do it as part of a team,” says Van Schendel. “You see that people give just that little bit more because they know their team is counting on them.” “Because associations also have teams participating, you might suddenly hear ‘Go Maastricht’ when you run past in a university shirt, that is such fun,” Van Rinsum adds. “It is all about first running really fast and then partying.”
Their first task now is to put a team together. There is a selection competition on 19 March. The men run five kilometres, the women three. The Batavierenrace consists of seventeen male stages (varying between six and eleven kilometres) and eight female stages (between the three and seven kilometres). “We are looking for women who can run on average at least 13.5 km/h and men who can certainly run 16 km/h,” says Mölenberg. “If you cannot attend the selection competition, you can still put your name down. We also look at the results of ordinary races.” Everyone can enter; you don’t have to be a member of an athletics association. “We hope to discover some very fast runners.”
Selection competition for Batavierenrace university team, 19 March; for more information, see www.batavierenraceum.nl