In October 2016, I had approached Emma, a girl I didn’t really know, if she wanted to start a running team with me. For a while it was just two nineteen-year-olds, getting to know each other through our mutual love, and the occasional supportive friend or random person who showed up to our practices.
Fast forward a year and a half later, and you wouldn’t think I’m talking about the same team. Together, we’ve managed to acquire uniforms, a logo, sweaters, race sponsorship, host our own race, and connect with other running crews and unis in NL and in Europe. But most importantly, we’ve grown. We’ve grown from distant classmates (she always reminds me we had Dutch together even though I don’t remember it) to best friends. I can count on her for anything. And as our friendship has grown, so has the Roosevelt Runners.
The 46th annual Batavieren Race is a 175km (109mi) long relay that begins in Nijmegen, passes through Germany, and eventually finishes in Enschede. Schools from across Europe compete, and we were 1 of 360 teams present. The team comprises of 25 students and faculty, running for roughly 15 hours nonstop, and begins at midnight. We spent the entire night hoping to not get disqualified from our confusion of where to be and when, but eventually got the hang of it. We pulled through at 169 out of 360!
What they don’t tell you about the race, is the mix of shared misery and triumph that accompanies it. We were sleeping in cars and vans the first night, waking up early the next morning, and then zombie running in the afternoon. Running on no sleep, driving on no sleep, and organizing ourselves on no sleep was the real obstacle to beat. A 10k at 3am was the least of our problems. You know you’ve got something special when you collectively wake up and grouchily stare at each other, grumble, but then hustle because you’ve got work to do.
Our team energy was incredible, and the beauty of our group reflects the beauty of our university: a quirky hodgepodge of personalities so different, but inexplicably forms the best combination. There were many teams where the people all looked and acted the same. Then you look at the personalities in ours, and we have everything. Our squad included the overly stressed mother hen, the bizarre stoner, the fluid yogi, and the sporty hotshot, to name a few.
Words cannot describe how much fun it was meeting old friends, running with new ones, and almost getting lost in the middle of nowhere with 22 other humans crowding your personal space. Not to mention throwing down some solid PRs, and watching your teammates’ jaws drop when they see their results.
This is exactly what I live for. The teamwork, the chemistry, the determination, the journey through it all, and the view from the top of the mountain.