By Will Thompson, Race2 Coordinator
Organised as part of the Charities Campaign, Race2 is an annual charitable event which takes roughly 200 students in teams of two or three on a hitchhiking adventure across Europe, raising roughly £45,000 a year in the process. The event lasts 4 days, starting in St Andrews and ending in a different European city each year. In previous years the race has gone to locations such as Munich, Barcelona, Prague and Budapest, and last week the destination for this year’s race was revealed as Valencia, Spain.
Valencia is the 3rd largest city in Spain, after Madrid and Barcelona (both previous race destinations) and will claim to be the warmest destination ever in the 30+ year history of the St Andrews hitchhike.
When choosing a destination for the race, there are multiple factors which come into consideration. Firstly, the distance – there is a ‘golden figure of eight’ per se as to where it is feasible to race to within the time period allotted (4 days), the radius centres on the port of Calais and the port of Rotterdam as these are the most likely locations from where racers will cross the channel. The second factor that is taken into account is the cost – making sure participants can afford their accommodation, food and drink once they reach that elusive destination. Thirdly, Race2’s primary objective is always to keep every racer as safe as possible, so choosing safe destinations is paramount. All these factors put together made Valencia the top contender for the final location.
Just as important as all this is the destination itself: after the freezing climes of Munich last January, the winter sun of Valencia will make a welcome change! This destination also has one of the most interesting histories, having been under the control of the Moors, Romans and Christians throughout the centuries. Its architecture and culture reflects this fascinating cultural history. Historic sights include many Gothic buildings from the Renaissance period, including: the Valencia Cathedral, the Torres de Serrano, the Torres de Quart and the Silk Exchange (called La Lonja). Like its neighbour to the north Barcelona, beautiful Gaudiesque buildings are everywhere, such as the Estacion del Norte train station, the Mercado Central and the Mercado de Colon, the largest market building in Europe, covering 8,000 square metres.
Valencia features many modern attractions too, and is home to Spain’s City of Arts and Sciences, a gigantic park filled with spectacular futuristic structures surrounded by water features. Its buildings include a science museum, Europe’s largest aquarium, a digital 3D cinema, an opera house, and a massive open-access garden among others: in this park alone you will not run out of things to do post-race. But of course, the fun planned for the racers by the Race2 committee might not leave enough time to get lost… And, given that it is the hottest destination so far, Race2Valencia wouldn’t be complete without a host of beaches to enjoy (soak up the sun while you can, West Sands won’t be quite the same!) after an equally exhausting and invigorating hitchhike adventure.