Its back and Bata than ever, another one of ICXCAC’s many, high quality trips. For the first time, we’ve taken a full team of 25 to what has been described in previous years as “the best trip I’ve been on with Cross Country” and “the daddy of all road relays”; a description that matches the experiences of this year, the 46th (and Imperial’s 4th) Batavierenrace. The race, a gargantuan 175 km, split into 25 legs, is the largest student relay race in the world, running through the night and into the day, from Nijmegen to Enschede.
Early on Friday morning, while the team was awake, they were not united, and would not be until they reached the start. 14 soon-to-be Batavierens piled into a minibus and Mark’s car, before heading off to Nijmegen, accompanied by 15 loaves of bread and 10 packs of cheese (Mark left the pickle at home, don’t tell Duncan). With an efficient Chunnel, some were able to stop at the beach and still reach their destination well on time. The rest of the group had the pleasure of taking a coach to Eindhoven. With such games as ‘who has the red card’ and ‘why does Mihai always have the red card’, and a beautiful ferry ride, the time flew by, and before we knew it the train from Eindhoven had reached Nijmegen. There, the team were united, and with tour t-shirts donned, the race would begin with Jack Mitchell taking the baton back to the Radboud Uni.
The race is split into 3 stages, with 11 taking on the grueling night shift before being met in Ulft by the rest of the team. Heinrich started this challenge, but luckily our runners would not be alone. Accompanied by a cyclist, on a bike with ‘retina burning’ blue lights, encouragement and support would be within arm’s reach. Mark and Jess then delivered a strong one-two before handing to Filip and Tom. While we suffered a small bike-mare, we pulled through, with Ian proving hard to find for Georgia. Nomuna managed to wake up in time to finish the stage, before we headed to Ulft to get a bit of rest.
In the morning leg, reverse Tri-Traitor Rowan saw the light and put in a rapid run to start us off, to hand over to the former 24th fastest woman in the Netherlands Jenny Lea. She couldn’t stop laughing as she posted a rapid 16:19 3.8k. Due to the antics in the night, we started the day in 142nd place, but with every leg we were improving. Maryna and Anna advanced us to 72nd. “You’re the predator and they are the prey, you’re a tank, you’re flying, you’re a flying tank!” were the shouts of Mihai, as he and Remy handed over to Aymeric and Henry, who did a great job of convincing us they weren’t injured. The morning stage was done, we were in 55th, and had only minor damage to our van.
In the afternoon the rise through the ranks continued. Euan, Greg, Ophelie and Matt all put in strong times to put us up to 33rd. Could we beat our position of 17th from last year? Lewis was clearly determined for this, although he may have just been keen to get to the brewery at the end of his leg. Liv then finished of the journey, matching Jenny’s and Matt’s 5th place in their legs. The final stage saw club captain Alex Mundell and Tour-rep Duncan running from the centre to the finale. With thousands of spectators, and ample water supply, Alex posted the 6th fastest time of the stage, with Duncan showing his 2 hours of sleep and lack of training with a solid 52nd.
We finished 27th/300 teams, which considering our issues, was very impressive. What was even more impressive though was the fancy dress for the afterparty. With our best attempts at retro runner, we got hyped and ready to party with the other 8000 students in two festival tents and an outdoor stage. We danced to the links and rechts well into the dawn, giving everything we had left to showing the Dutch how its done.
The wake up call at 8:30 of music blasting through the sports hall speakers forced the 25 weary heads of ICXC up, before heading back to the vans and heading home.