Student - May 10, 2012

'The whole team got the goosebumps'

The university team wins the Batavieren race. In spite of two collisions with the barrier and eight kilometres run with loose shoelaces.

Esther Swart, with the beaker, winning for the second time.
That they stood a chance of winning the world's biggest relay race this year was clear enough. The Wageningen team is often fast but sometimes has a bit of trouble sticking to the strict rules set by the university race. In 2010 they were penalized because one of the runners forgot to pick up a wrist band, and a year later because they switched runners too often. This year the team captains repeated until they were blue in the face: remember your ID, remember your wrist band!

Cold and dark

Even so, the Wageningen team did not get off to a flying start. In the cold, dark night, Harm van Baar bumped into a barrier twice. In the night laps between Nijmegen and Dinxperlo, the team fell four minutes behind its rival from Eindhoven. Enschede was on their heels, just ten seconds behind. Four minutes is a lot but not impossible to catch up, the runners were sure. In the Achterhoek four strong runners caught up with Eindhoven. At the end of the morning Wageningen was in first place.
But, thought the team captains, they needed to increase their lead. Because Eindhoven had the Dutch 10 kilometre champion to put in for the last lap. Build on your advantage, was the message for the afternoon team then. For three laps Eindhoven and Wageningen were neck and neck.
Until disaster seemed to strike when Wilbert van Vliet's shoelaces came undone after just 500 metres. Accompanying cyclist Lex called out to him: 'You can either quickly tie them now or run on.' But Wilbert ran eight kilometres with loose shoelaces, reaching a speed of 18 kilometres per hour to boot. It did cost him a couple of blisters, though. Together with Arend Mulder and Esther Swart he managed to increase the team's advantage to eight minutes.

Tribute
At the prize giving in the large marquee in Enschede, the team were treated to a musical reception by other Wageningen teams such as Tartl├ętos, KSV, WaHo, Ceres en Woeste Hoeve. In honour of the team they gave a lusty rendering of the famous Wageningen battle song about boys from the agricultural college who want to sow and girls from the tailoring workshop who prefer to sew.
A hush fell when teamleader Lex Verhoog was given the microphone and dedicated the cup to his predecessor Jan Roos, who died in an accident in June 2010. 'One of the greatest team captains in the history of Wageningen. This trophy is for you, Jan.' This was met with wholehearted applause. Lex: 'That really gave the whole team goose bumps. The most beautiful moment of the day.'

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