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woensdag, november 11, 2009

Genar and Boeckx in Jenever Relay

An epic night-o race in the Arenbergpark, Leuven, ultimately won by the all-Trol team of Jeremy Genar and Bram Boeckx, provided one of the most intense Belgian relay competitions of the year. Similar to the well known beer relay format, the jenever relay, already in its fifth edition, had an impressive line-up, with a substantial Walloon delegation.

With 6 of the 10 best ranked Belgian runners in the mass start, a lot of forking and super fast terrain, all ingredients for an exciting race were there. Drinking speed matters. Drink too slow and you already have to close a serious gap. The first leg lead into the forest of the park and was ultimately won by Thomas van der Kleij, just in front of your reporter and with Wouter Leeuws right behind.

Forking introduces a chance of mispunching. Mispunching does not lead to disqualification, but a runner is punished by having to drink two glasses of jenever for each mistake. During the first leg, Jef Boeckx mispunched and was subsequently punished. Course setter Bruno De Lat personally supervised the drinking. It should be noted that Boeckx, Belgium's number 4 in MTB-O, was the only runner to mispunch during the event.

Teams were chosen by the organisers to give each team a fair chance. Runners with more experience were together in a team with less experienced runners. Position changes occurred frequently.

The first second leg runner to arrive was Elien Melis, winner of the 2007 edition. Followed shortly by Vanessa Bolsens, in a team with Yannick Michiels, a strong contender for the victory. Just a few seconds later, Bram Boeckx, last year the first one to finish his drinks during the mass start, but now second runner in a team with Jeremy Genar, arrived.

Melis' starter, Desmond Franssen was now head-to-head with his clubmate Genar and Michiels. It was Michiels who finished first, one second in front of Genar, with Franssen a few seconds behind. This second loop brought the runners to the castle and alma area, with the classic spectator control on the other side of the Dijle river.

The decisive moment was the next leg. Bram Boeckx managed to get away from the competition, and finished with a comfortable lead. One which neither Genar nor Boeckx himself in the last two legs would loose. The final leg brought some surprises. Dries Van Gestel, Wouter Leeuws' second runner sneaked to the second position, winning by a 7 second margin to Vanessa Bolsens.

The third loop was the most technical one, a lot of controls, in a time when the jenever started to be felt by the runners. An interesting development happened further behind, with van der Kleij and your reporter running against each other on this map which both know well, faster route choices seemed to settle the dispute, with your reporter having a 40 second gap right in front of the chapel control, which allowed van der Kleij to close most of the gap. A final mistake on the final control (which happened to be just a plastic bag hanging in the trees) resulted in small time advantage for van der Kleij's team.

Full results:
Loper 1 Loper 2       Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Leg 4 Leg 5 Leg 6
1 Jeremy Bram 5'33 13'49 23'56 29'29 41'48 46'08
2 Wouter Dries VG 5'02 16'00 25'27 31'14 43'33 48'11
3 Yannick Vanessa 5'27 13'39 23'57 31'03 43'33 48'18
4 Dries vdK Ruud 5'10 25'30 47'43 52'33
5 Gilles Tom 7'00 52'40
6 Quentin An 8'45 14'35 27'19 33'16 48'00 52'43
7 JFK Catherine 6'44 15'30 32'07 34'11 52'45
8 Desmond Elien 5'59 13'26 24'03 30'07 53'40
9 Toon Adriaan 5'14 13'12 25'30 30'43 49'00 54'16
10 Julien Raf 8'44 27'45 49'00 55'18
11 Thomas vdK
Thomas/Klaartje 4'59 16'30 27'20 36'04 49'00 57'28
12 Jeroen Leen 5'01 17'30 27'50 49'00 58'37
13 Joost Filip 6'16 27'00 36'04 1:00'00
14 Hans Kim/Sien 6'51 17'46 29'50 48'00 1:00'00 1:05'00
15 Jef Sofie 9'21 20'06 35'11 41'11 1:00'00 1:05'00
16 Adolfas Laurie 6'29 20'39 34'14 1:08'00
17 Johan Gilles 2 5'30 27'00 33'31
18 Ken Bob 5'38 20'13 31'50 40'11

Photos (An Fredrickx)