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European couriers deliver championship


Edmonton Journal, July 5, 2004

By Omar El Akkad


Competitors in the International Bike Courier Championships got a bit of a break on Sunday. Instead of the weather being cold and rainy, it was just cold.


More than a hundred riders and supporters from around the world turned out for Sunday's final race, the main event of the five-day championship. The closed race course looped around an area between 105th and 106th avenues and 105th and 109th streets. Thanks to heavy rain over the weekend, it was even tougher, with giant puddles and slick roads causing riders to wipe out on some of the turns.


The championship's final event was more than just a straightforward race. Bikers were given manifests - lists of package pick-up and drop off locations - and had to figure out the fastest way of getting every package to the right checkpoint in the fastest time. The winners were decided based on time and accuracy.


Adding an extra element of difficulty to the race were the track's one-way roads. If a rider passed a checkpoint, he had to go all the way round the track.


The race began at noon. Four and a half hours later, the men's and women's champions were announced.


Raphael Faiss of Lausanne Switzerland, won the men's race, defending the title he won at last year's championships.


"I feel really good," Faiss said. "It's good to come back and defend my title. One month ago, I wasn't going to come because the ticket was too expensive. But I found a sponsor and was able to fly here."


Faiss said this year's course was especially difficult.


"It was definitely a messenger course, with the loops, the one-way tracks and the long riding between checkpoints. The rain also made it very difficult."


Shortly after Faiss completed the race Johanna Reeder of Stockholm, Sweden, delivered her final package, winning the women's race and completing a European sweep of the main event.


"I'm happy," Reeder said. "I'm here for one and a half weeks, so I'm going to have a little vacation now."


This is Reeder's fourth championship. Both Reeder said they plan to travel to New York for next year's championship.


Riders continued to race long after the winners were announced, struggling to complete the challenging course.


Inside the championship headquarters riders and fans warmed up, watched TV and bought and sold courier gear.


Anais Fritzlan, owner of Under the Weather, a Toronto-based courier bag and clothing company, has been selling her merchandise at national and international courier championships for four years.


She said this year's turn out was smaller than previous years.


"The core group of riders showed up, though," she said. "It's great because you get to meet all your friends.


The people organizing did a great job," Fritzlan said.


Every event ran on time, except when weather absolutely prevented it."





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