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Running from Paris to Rotterdam

Do you like running? Do you like cycling? Do you like team spirit? Do you like fun? Join the Roparun next time!

323 teams raised over 3,5 million Euro for 111 charities. Our team raised over 31,000 Euro. I am so happy to have paid a small contribution and having received such an incredible big memory!

Below you can find my story on this intense and memorable weekend.

First of all deep bow and huge thanks to the Nike Courage team: Kate, Mia, Michael, Willem, Balys. Our drivers and DJs: Backstreet-boy, Paul G. And Ricardo the Stripper (and Ferry the Flamingo’s adopted dad), the Team 1 posse: Lucien, Jose, Michel, Cally, Shi, Joost supported by Mandy and Lenny, the head-coaches, Tom and Bas, the torture-masseuses, Patricia and Linda, the catering-posse, Lois, Nathalie and Daniel and our drivers, Bob and Thomas. 

In 50 hours we ran, biked and partied for 536 kilometres. So on average we each ran 45 km and cycled 90 km! Team Awesome!

IFriday night I woke up at 02:05. Ten minutes before my alarm clock. A quick shower, quick breakfast, get dressed and raced to Hilversum. Just before Hilversum I passed the only bus on the road, which appeared to be the Roparun bus.

At the EHQ office it was still dark. We packed the bus and left for Paris at 04:00 with one bus and two vans. After a small pee and coffee break we continued on our way to Paris. We arrived near the airport Le Bourget on time. Fortunately it was dry as it was quite windy and rainy before. Just before the start we ate spaghetti, decorated our vans with a pink flamingo and a crocodile while Team 1 were getting ready.

The landscape we ran through was beautiful. Little villages, countryside, hills and forests. The weather was nice, but we did get quite some free showers while running. During my runs Michael and Willem cycled with me and I cycled with them when they were running. Mia and I had a tough time cycling with Michael a.k.a. Speedy Gonzalez. 

At 12:15 Team 1 started. We drove to the first exchange point 58 km ahead to prepare ourselves and get to know each other better. It became clear that humor and fun was a common denominator. At 17:00 Michel arrived running, together with Shi and Jose on a bike. 30 minutes later we started our first leg. Everybody ran 2 km and biked twice with the other runner. The van drove to the next point with the other three runners ready to hand over. 

Around 21:30 we were back and completed our first 45 km. Team 1 continued and we took a nap in the bus for a few hours as our second run was at 03:00! 02:00 we already got up to prepare ourselves. During the first minutes we had quiet music, but that quickly changed to loud music, varying from Avici to System of a Down. We saw the sunrise around 06:15 and had about an hour to go. Tired but satisfied we went to “bed”. Waking up we apparently were in Belgium already! At 10:00 we had breakfast. As the toilet was temporarily out of order we had to improvise a bit, but good that Belgium also has various bushes and trees.

A not to be forgotten experience was getting a massage by two nice ladies. You can fantasize about that, but this massage had a different “happy ending”, namely we were all happy when it was done. The first time I got a cramp, but Patricia and Linda got rid of it and managed to keep us all elastic.

12:45 we started our third leg. As a total team we were halfway through our journey. They said that Belgium would be flat, but there were some hilly roads along the way too. In France there were no people cheering us on, but in Belgium that changed gradually. Very sad though that Balys got injured and could not continue. Bas replaced him, but unfortunately he got injured too after his second run… Around 17:30 we finished our 54 km and we were promised pancakes. However we got a good BBQ instead. Daniel made us some good burgers and chicken sate. Next to the good food, there was a sort of dance/mating ritual in which Ferry the Flamingo played an important part. 

The party did not last long for the runners as we were to do our toughest leg: 58 km from 23:00 to 04:00. As Balys could not run anymore two of our catering crew members, Lois and Daniel joined to replace him. As Balys wanted to somehow continue he did join us by bike. Hero. This tough leg went surprisingly well. Everybody was highly motivated and we had a lot of fun, dancing along the way while waiting for the others and supporting other teams. 

In Antwerp we had two cool highlights. Mia and I cycled with Michael through the Sint Anna tunnel, a pedestrian tunnel 572 meters under the Schelde river. Shortly after I continued the run and was lucky to run over a red carpet through the beautiful Antwerp Harbour House with a lot of cheering people. That gave us a good boost. In Putte we crossed the border. Back in Holland. Our fourth leg ended in party-town Ossendrecht. Around 04:00 we felt we were at a Carnival party! People dancing, shouting and cheering. They were dressed up, houses, gardens and cars were decorated. Awesome!

At 04:30 team 1 started their last leg and we closed our shutters for a few hours. My shutters opened again at 07:15 to prepare for the last miles. Team 1 came back with big smiles and after a group photo we left with 7 of us to do the last 52 km. This last part 6 of us were cycling and 1 was running. This made it even nicer and more motivating. In Numansdorp and Oud-Beijerland it was a big party. Cheering and applauding people everywhere. 

Seeing the various nice cities and surroundings made me proud of our little country. They also were giving us all kinds of treats from cucumbers to candies, fruit and snacks. Yes, in Heijenoord I stopped for a piece of frikandel with mayo! Delicious after such a weekend! Shortly after Heijenoord I ran under the Oude Maas river through the Heijenoord tunnel. Very cool and cool!

The last 7 km we all did 1 km. We passed the Daniel den Hoed (hoed=hat) Foundation, 1 of the 111 Roparun charities. People working there took off their hats to thank us. Very special! I take off my hat for them for all the good work they do! Heroes! 2 km before the finish we handed in our bikes and did these last 2 km with the whole Nike Courage crew. Having hugged each other with our huge achievement we walked the last 2 km to the finish line with a big Just Do It flag. We just did it! 

Literally after we passed the finish line it started to rain cats and dogs (hahaha finally I can use this expression ;)). After the medal and group photos we took the Metro and the 7 biggest diehards took the bike to the bus which was parked about 40 minutes from the finish…The rest cleaned the bus while waiting for the bikers to be there. 

Once the bus left the first team members passed out, followed shortly by the rest of us. Being back at the EHQ office we realized that our awesome weekend was over. We said goodbye and went home… Back home my family and parents were waiting for me with good food. After that I showered, went to bed and slept like a baby. 12 hours later I woke up. Back to reality. Ready for the next adventure. Thanks Nike for making this possible!

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