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Pharma team reveals winning DHL strategy

The best runner in the best DHL relay team at the University of Copenhagen says it is about cornering skills

As 2,100 University of Copenhagen staff and students exchange war stories after Monday night’s DHL showdown, they would do well to heed the advice of the fastest runner on the fastest University team.

Niels Grøn Nørager, a PhD student at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry is good for a 15:06 five kilometres, and runs between 80 and 90 kilometres a week in training. As the fastest runner on the team, he ran two legs at the race on Monday evening.

Tunnelling through the packed crowds of slower runners in the twisty final kilometres, he sprinted a 16:30 as the third runner on the team, then followed it up by a more sedate 17:00. The times are from handover to handover, and are thereby actually slightly more than five kilometres.

Read article: DHL: Team from Pharma wins Uni battle

Twisty final section

Why didn’t you opt to do first and last lap? This would have given you more restitution?

»We judged that for the fastest, the first leg is actually tougher, because with a start number in the 4,000s you would have to fight your way through tighter packs of slower runners,« says Niels to the University Post.

Because of the final twisty two kilometres with the extreme traffic jams, tactics for the DHL are particularly important for the runners who race at high speeds.

See a gallery of great DHL pics here.

Think ahead

»The long asphalt sections between 1 and 3.5 kilometres are the sections where you can really make up the time by running on the road, left of the queues of runners. But you have got to be careful, you can’t run max, as you need to have the concentration for the final sections too,« says Niels.

With almost 10,000 runners on the course at one time, the DHL relay is a discipline of finding the fastest line, avoiding too many accelerations and decelerations. The debate among the elite is whether or not to cut corners, and whether to take inside or outside lines through the running traffic.

»I take the outside line, and mostly run on the grass beside the mat,« says Niels. »You always need to be a couple of passes ahead, it is a pure reflex,« he says.

Corner confrontation

It is not all clean sailing however, for a man that runs almost twice as fast as the average runner. »If I am on a collision course with someone who moves out of their line, I yell,« he admits.

Just yell?

»Yes, and I particularly want to apologise to an old couple that I yelled at on the corner of Øster Alle and Blegdamsvej«.

Favourites beaten

ChemBiol1 consisted of Theis Wilbek (approx 20:30), Jonas Eildal (approx 19), Klaus B. Nielsen (approx 24) and Niels Grøn Nørager (16:30 and 17:00).

Chembiol1 had a total time for the five runners of 1:37:35.

Pre-race favourites Systems Biology, a four man/one woman team including elite marathon runner Anja Birk-Olsen, was one minute behind in 1:38:30.

Find yourself among our hundreds of pics on facebook here.

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