It is a little after 5:30 p.m., when combined events coach Honza Valenta is getting the markers and hurdles ready for the Thursday night training at the UTrack. Just before Kronos-president Daan Gestel can tell about the oldest student-athletics association of the Netherlands, a student trainer approaches him. ‘It really smells like sweat in the equipment room.’ ‘Open the door for a minute’, Gestel responds and turns to the reporter on duty. ‘The smell is just part of a sports association, right?’
The Drienerlo Athletics Association Kronos, founded in 1964, is in good health in 2022, according to Gestel. Apart from a few financial details, the board made it through last week’s general assembly unharmed. And with about a hundred active members to be found on the track every week, the association has nothing to complain about.
This is in great contrast with the year 2014, when the association was at an all-time low in terms of members. Moreover, it was condemned to the outdated cinder track, which would turn into a mud bath after rain. Since 2015, Kronos has the UTrack at its disposal, with three asphalt lanes and three lanes with a synthetic top layer. ‘It’s a great track, even though it’s too hard to run games on. But this is such a luxury compared to other student athletics associations, which often have to train at a civic association.’
Gestel, a second-year bachelor’s student in civil engineering, discovered the athletics club at the beginning of the Covid crisis. ‘I liked it so much, I immediately wanted to do a board year. What appealed to me so much? The association spirit. Of course, running is an individual sport, you try to break your own personal records. But by training together, it feels like a team sport. We actually have the best of both worlds.’
That best of both worlds is reflected in other areas as well. Kronos is a home base for both the inexperienced athlete and the experienced triple jumper, Gestel says. ‘We have members who win medals on a national level, like recently at the NSK Indoor in Apeldoorn. Then, dozens of us take the train to visit such games – even members who do not participate. Everything is possible at Kronos. The training sessions are also adapted to everyone’s level. For example, we have a student from Bulgaria who throws his javelin sixty meters. He gets a training schedule and exercises for his level, but the same goes for the javelin throwers who don’t get farther than twenty meters.’
Where many sports facilities were closed due to the Covid crisis, the Kronauts were able to keep visiting the track, Gestel says. ‘Only a few times was there such a heavy lockdown that only individual training was possible. But when measures relaxed, app groups and Google Forms soon appeared to train with a group.’ Still, the association life of the Kronauts wasn’t able to return to its full glory, Gestel knows. ‘The older members did manage to find their way back to the social activities. But especially for the younger and newer members, it proved rather difficult. We had to actively get them involved in those aspects of the association as well.’
NSKs and baking cakes
Because at Kronos there is more than just running or hurdling, discus or javelin throwing and high jump or long jump. There is also plenty to do off-track, with monthly drinks at Café Friends. And after Monday night practice, a special competition is held: every week a Kronaut brings in a home-baked cake. This is strictly yet fairly judged by the other members. Perhaps not the most appropriate sports food, but there are worse cooldowns to think of.
Meanwhile, dozens of Kronauts have already gathered for the warm-up by running coach Bob Leuvelink and technical events coach Valenta. Gestel lists some highlights of all Kronos activities before he too has to run his laps. ‘Every year we participate in eight different national student championships. And then we have our own games, such as the Johan Knaap Games – named after one of our honorary members. Soon, on April 6, is the Campus Run. Since this is the tenth edition, we added the ten kilometers to the program.’
‘Green you must do’
According to Gestel, the Campusloop is the ideal ‘dry run’ for the Batavierenrace, which will take place again this year in full glory, including the finish on the UTrack. Kronos is of course the largest supplier of runners for the UT/Saxion team. ‘We also have enough members to participate with two teams from Kronos. They will be wearing the characteristic Kronos green.’
That color is a bit of a thing, says Gestel, dressed in a lime green training jacket himself. ‘Green you must do’ is a creed that has found its way in the association since the previous board. No, there is no particular meaning behind it, haha. It means that we want to proudly display the color of our association. There are many associations here that have green outfits. But only one of them can be the greenest.’