The preparations for ‘the biggest relay race in the world’ are in full swing, according to committee chair Lisa van Oost. ‘It is hard work, but everything is going smoothly so far. The biggest challenge was the last restart: because of Koningsdag [King's Day], the municipality of Enschede is unable to clear the Oude Markt in time, which is traditionally the place for the last restart. Therefore, the Van Heekpark was chosen as an alternative.’
The 51st edition of the Batavierenrace will take place on the 28th and 29th of April. The relay race of over 175 kilometres has been a household name in the Dutch student world for decades. The race, which starts in Nijmegen and attracts more than 8,000 participants every year, travels through Germany, the Achterhoek region and Twente to finally finish on the UT campus in Enschede, where the last runners, often outfitted in bizarre costumes, finish on the running track.
Although a restart outside the centre of Enschede caused some disappointment, the new venue also offers opportunities, as the chairperson knows. ‘The Van Heekpark is a lot more accessible than the Oude Markt, which makes it easier logistically speaking.’ Because of the new restart, the last stage has been shortened by a few kilometres. ‘The last runners are not always well trained. I think they are happy with a slightly shorter distance.’
The organisers anticipate 8,500 runners, similar to previous editions of the Batavierenrace. ‘We also have a list of reserves this year, but we didn't have to draw lots.’ In short, there is no lack of runners. However, the committee is still looking for volunteers. ‘Every year we need around 750 volunteers to organise the Bata. We are now at approximately three- to four hundred. That is comparable to the amount around this time last year. We are heavily promoting on our social media since the beginning of this year. Especially for construction and signage, we still need people.’
Traditionally, the Batavierenrace ends with a big party on campus. The same holds for this year, as partygoers can indulge themselves. ‘Just like last year, we will no longer use UT buildings for this. The party is more centred on the festival field, with three large tents’. Big artists are not on the programme. ‘But that is also not what the Bata party is known for. The runners mainly want to get together after the race. They will enjoy themselves anyway.’