Resume of the Black Forest Race

Schwarzwald Rennen November 2016
In the final weekend of November the DTSG held its 5-year anniversary meeting. In addition to the meeting, and perhaps even more important, there was a 2-day hitchhiking race through the Black Forest. Ten (10) teams and one solo participant made it to the starting line, meaning this race would go down as the largest in the brief history of the DTSG. Start and finish were in the small town of Messkirch, about midway between Stuttgart and Zürich.
Place Team Finish Time
1 Linsengericht 2016-11-27 12:26
2 RaKoen 2016-11-27 12:28
3 Tutti Frutti 2016-11-27 12:38
4 Chaos 2016-11-27 12:52
5 Leitplankenschrubber 2016-11-27 13:23
6 KoKa 2016-11-27 14:20
7 Ausfahrt Links 2016-11-27 14:35
8 Spätstart 2016-11-27 14:40
9 Süpersalak 2016-11-27 17:39
Disqualified Ostfriesen ---

Eleven checkpoints over roughly 450 kilometer stood between the teams and the finish, ranging from simple road junctions to tourist attractions and even a lookout-tower on the Schlossberg mountain overlooking the city of Freiburg. The course was laid out in the following way: three checkpoints, which could be visited in any order, constituted the first round. Round 2 consisted of only one checkpoint, giving teams an insight of their position. Round 3 continued with three checkpoints in any order, before moving on to round 4 and 5 with two checkpoints each. Each team had an obligatory 9 hours of rest in which they were not allowed to hitchhike. This time could by divided up into maximum five different parts.

After final preparations in the morning the race started at 8:40am, with teams starting at 5-minute intervals. Team Rakoen, made up of DTSG-members Ralf and Koen quickly took the lead and completed the first round in a different order than the other teams. This proved to be a strategically good move when they reached the 2nd round checkpoint first at 12:28pm, 9 minutes before Team Süpersalak with first timers Viktoriia and Peter. Team KoKa (Stefan & Kate) completed the virtual podium 20 minutes behind Rakoen.

Most teams moved swiftly through the 3rd round checkpoints, moving west into the Black Forest when night set in at around 5pm. Here the real race started and tactics became very important, since apart from the lit towns where traffic slowed down, roads in the hilly region were completely dark and remarkably windy. Picking a good hitchhiking spot was essential.

The nature of the course caused all teams to visit the round 4 checkpoints in the same order. First up was the city of Freiburg, where KoKa arrived at 7:28pm, having caught up with Rakoen in Furtwangen and consequently overtaking them to take the lead. Team Linsengericht (Lena and Karlis) arrived a minute before Rakoen. Having been more than an hour behind at the end of the 2nd round, they worked hard to make up for the time lost in the beginning. Other teams followed closely making for an exciting race throughout the night.

Six of the teams still made it to the highest point of the course, the Feldberg, on the first day. The optimal route to this checkpoint seemed to be going via Titisee-Neustadt. Having chased the top teams for most of the race, Team Leitplankenschrubber (Ben & Özge) moved into the lead here arriving at exactly 10pm. Having chased the top teams for most of the race their combined hitchhiking experience paid off. On their heels were KoKa and Linsengericht, respectively 3 and 8 minutes behind. Rakoen dropped down to 7nd after a tactical mistake and only reached the checkpoint the next morning. Second near the beginning of the race, Süpersalak seemed to have problems during the night and only reached Freiburg and consequently the Feldberg the next morning. This put them in last place.

The second day proved to be decisive, with the 5th round checkpoints placed in such a way that every team visited them in the same order. The first checkpoint in Tengen gave teams another opportunity to check their position in the field, motivating them to push on towards the finish. Once again the lead changed; Team Chaos with the experienced DTSG members Jona and Kevin arrived first at 9:22am. Over the course of the race they'd slowly worked their way up towards the lead. However, unlike the other teams they still had 25 minutes of rest time left. Linsengericht arrived 22 minutes later, together with a surprising Tutti Frutti (Sven & Evelyn). They had been trying hard the night before to make it to the Feldberg and succeeded. Clearly they benefited from this tactic by moving closer to the lead. The other teams followed at least half an hour behind.

The final checkpoint in Radolfzell shook things up, proving to be very easy for some teams and much harder for others. There were several possible routes between Tengen and the town at Lake Konstanz, the choice being either going around on the highway or through the urban area around Singen. While Singen seemed the more risky option, it did prove to be faster. Chaos was still in front at this last checkpoint, but their lead diminished to 4 minutes with Linsengericht in second and Tutti Frutti 8 minutes behind in third. Rakoen chose the route through Singen, made up lost time and moved into fourth, 27 minutes behind Chaos.

The race to the finish was on. Rakoen passed Tutti Frutti 20 kilometers before the finish while in a car to Messkirch. The last stretch from the main road to the finish was about one kilometer on a road with little traffic. Linsengericht and Rakoen had both unknowingly overtaken Chaos and battled it out for first within viewing distance of each other. Linsengericht came out on top when they managed to stop a car and get a ride to the finish where they arrived at 12:26pm. Chaos also overtook Rakoen while in a car to the finish arriving 1 minute after Linsengericht and 1 minute before Rakoen. However their remaining 25 minutes of rest time put them back into fourth when Tutti Frutti finished 10 minutes after the leaders and grabbed third place. Evidence for the close competition was the fact that all teams arrived within five hours after the first team had finished.

Thanks to the large amount of teams, this race turned out to be to be exceptionally exciting. The lead changed often and small mistakes lead to teams falling behind. However, everyone stayed relatively close together, showing that the level of competitors was high and all gave their best despite being fatigued from little sleep and the strenuous amount of walking. In the end just a few minutes separated the best teams. All teams agreed the region had been very hitchhiking friendly. This made for a more fair race; luck played an insignificant role while skills and perseverance were more important. The top teams managed the challenges best and deservedly came out on top.

Rennen Schwarwald

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