Walking, lying, sitting, eating and drinking
The longest non-stop relay race in the world started in Parc la Courneuve in Paris on Saturday 11 June 2011: the Roparun. The Roparun was held for the 20th time this year. A total of 275 teams took part, running 521 kilometers from Paris to Rotterdam to collect money for the good causes that provide care to people suff ering from cancer. The very fi rst runner to start in Paris was consultant Fargo Hilberts. This year was the second time Zanders (team 21) participated in this special event.
Fargo Hilberts admits he didn’t have any major problems during the race. “The Roparun is run at intervals and the entire team is divided into two groups of four runners,” he explains. “Both groups must run a trajectory of about 65 kilometers in turns, preferably in less than fi ve hours. In practice you run two kilometers, after which a diff erent runner takes over the baton. You get into the bus and ride for six kilometers before your turn comes up again. This way you can keep it up for a very long time.” Hilberts was not 100% sure at the start if he would be up to the challenge. “The Roparun is running, lying, sitting, eating and drinking. You do have to sweat it out once in a while, but of course it is a lot of fun doing it with your colleagues. You sometimes see runners lying in their sleeping bags along the way, on those French provincial roads, while waiting for their team. That is an unusual sight. It was only at the end that I ended up having some diffi culties but it went much better than expected.”
“You do not run the Roparun all by yourself”
The participating teams were given a spectacular reception at the Coolsingel with music, speeches and especially the applause and cheering of thousands of people. However, the fi nish was not the most memorable moment for Hilberts. He says: “I particularly remember passing through the Flemish cities of Dendermonde and Zele on Sunday night. The entire population in those towns staged a great popular feast, and they even played Dutch music. That was very special.”
With the exception of some minor technical hiccups and a few wrong turns in some places, the Zanders team did not encounter any problems worth mentioning. “We gave a tremendous performance”, says Hilberts enthusiastically. “Moreover, we raised more than EUR12,500.” Zanders eventually fi nished 198th of the 275 participating teams. The team reached an average speed of 11.5 kilometers per hour. “The competition element is of limited importance in the Roparun”, says Hilberts. “You don’t run the Roparun all by yourself. The runners, the cyclists, the attendants, the drivers, the navigators: during the Roparun everyone’s contribution is of equal importance. The essential part is giving a team performance and that is what we did.”