By Ivana Solar
— Each year around 25 AUC students participate in the Batavierenrace, one of the longest relay races in the world. Consisting of 25 stages, the 175km relay race starts at Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen and ends at Universiteit Twente, with more than 10,000 runners competing from universities all over the country. The race takes place from 1 AM to 6 PM, meaning some relay runners have unusual schedules and end up running at 3 AM without much sleep beforehand.
Second-year AUC student Laurens van de Werken ran an 8.9km segment of the race as part of the AUC relay team this year on April 25th, his second time running the race. Though van de Werken’s competitive sports background is primarily in sailing, his love for sports and his active lifestyle were the reason he decided to run the Batavierenrace. He trained by running shorter distances and working his way up to 12km. “As I started to feel better I increased the pace a bit, so I tried to run the same distance faster,” said van de Werken. “Anyone can run it if they slowly prepare in advance by making a schedule, running once or twice a week about three months ahead of the race and increasing the intensity one month before. Don’t force anything and stop and rest if you’re in pain.”
The teams sleep in either tents or the large sports hall on the campus of the university in Nijmegen. “In the sports hall they always use some annoying song as an alarm to wake us up for our shifts,” said van de Werken, who was lucky enough to get the afternoon shift this year. “The afternoon shift is the best because you get enough sleep and you’re able to perform better.”
Members of the relay team are able to choose their legs and sign up for distances between 3 and 12km. During every stage in the race, a member of the team accompanies each runner by bike to the switchover point, where he or she swaps the bike for the vest, which serves as the baton and tracker of the race. The person previously biking then runs the next stage of the race while the previous runner bikes alongside them.
Van de Werken started this year at the end of a group of 50 runners, “I didn’t really mind because it motivated me to run faster to overtake the people in front,” said van de Werken. “Also this year my trail was paved so the running conditions were better.”
During their breaks, runners mentally prepare themselves for the race ahead. “You can get information on your track, so you can check how much of it is unpaved or how many hills there are,” said van de Werken. “If you’re a Dutch student, you also sometimes run into friends from other universities, which is nice. You get to compete and see who’s faster.” During the evening before the race, runners get together for drinks. “This year I didn’t stay up too late because I wanted to be ready the next day,” said van de Werken. “I learned from my mistake last year!”
Most teams that participate in the race enter for the fun experience and great atmosphere. Van de Werken noted that this year there was a team that ran the entire race carrying large glasses of beer while another team balanced large tree trunks on their shoulders during their run. “The Batavierenrace is a great experience for anyone who likes to run, and since it’s only for students, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said van de Werken. “The adrenaline you get from the cheering crowd really motivates you to perform well.”
Despite the AUC team consisting of different members than the previous year, the team placed 42nd, 8 spots higher than last year. Van de Werken plans to participate in the relay race again next year. For more information on the race, contact AUC’s sport committee Catch or go to: https://www.batavierenrace.nl.