Wageningen was well represented by its fifteen teams at the 'Batavierenrace' last weekend. Linda van Os and Joyce Penninkhof, Forest & Nature Management students of the 'Run Forest Run' team, have participated many times before, but were disqualified this year.
The team 'Run Forest Run' does not have enough runners. To avoid being disqualified, some of the team members decide to cover a certain distance twice. Linda (left) and Joyce of the night shift team discuss what the appropriate distance is for an extra lap. 'Actually, this wasn't allowed, but we took a calculated risk because we very much wanted to be ranked', adds Linda.
Each runner is accompanied by a teammate on bicycle for safety and moral support. The bicycle of Run Forest Run had an orange flag as that was visible in the dark and among the crowds. 'The flag was tied to the bicycle bag', says Linda. 'Unfortunately, someone had forgotten to secure the bicycle bag to the bicycle, and we lost it somewhere along the way.'
Hermen Peeters (left) and Thomas van Bart (middle) cheer the runners on just before the finishing line. 'You certainly get a lot of encouragement from the spectators in those last meters', says Joyce, who in her finishing sprint succeeded in overtaking the girl who ran ahead of her all the way.
Joyce catches her breath after the finish at Azewijn. Together with Linda and Thomas, she walks back to the van which takes the runners back to the campus of the University of Twente in Enschede.
The afternoon shift team of (from left to right) Linda Klauss, Anniek Schouten, Tom Meuwissen, Laura Klauss and the chauffeur Femmy Feijen wait for the van of the morning shift team. 'Some runners still do not know why the slipovers had to be handed from one runner to the next. One of them only realized at the end of the race that there is a chip in the slipover which records the times.
A few hundred metres before the finish, on the cinder running track in the Enschede campus. Joyce: 'It's a tradition to do the last metres with a gimmick. You get to see a medley parading before you: someone dressed up as a chicken or as Sponge Bob, holding an oar, or dragging along a bench. We stuck to our theme by making a tree costume with leaves sewed on, but the weather was too hot to put that on completely.'
Linda, Hermen, Miila Kauppinen and Linda Klauss walk back to their tent on campus after the finish. 'To take a break, get some sleep, have a beer and pizza, and talk about what we've gone through', says Linda. 'We haven't seen some of our teammates the whole day.'
Tim Breur, Pien Verberk and Jos van de Puttelaar (from left to right) look at the final results. Joyce: 'We have been disqualified after all because we did too few laps. We thought that this would only be the case if we missed more than five laps, but it was five or more.' But the runners of Run Forest Run see no reason to be sad. Linda: 'We feel it's our own performance which counts, anyway.'
Sunday morning, the day after. The party after the Batavierenrace is the biggest student party in the Benelux, with bands and music in different locations on the campus. However, the runners of Run Forest Run did not get to see much of these. Linda: 'About three or four of us made it to half past four, but the rest disappeared into our tents at about one o'clock. I was dead tired; my eyelids were almost touching my knees.'
In the van on the way back to Wageningen. 'When we reached our van, four boys from student society Ceres were there. They'd seen our van; their teammates had abandoned them because they were sleeping too soundly. Trust Ceres to leave their second years behind! We then took them along with us.'
The Batavierenrace. 'The Bata' for 'being', is the biggest student sports event in the Netherlands, with more than 7500 participants in more than 300 teams every year. The runners cover a distance of more than 175 kilometres from Nijmegen, via Germany and the Achterhoek to the campus of the University of Twente in Enschede. The first race was held in 1973, when about 600 students made their way from Nijmegen to Rotterdam, the same route as the Batavians in 50 B.C. took when they floated on their rafts down the Rhine. The race owes its name to that first race. The university team of Wageningen came in sixth, clocking 11 hours and 23 minutes. Groningen was the winner among the universities.