Zele declared Roparun City 2019

Zele declared Roparun City 2019

Once again, in 2019 the Belgian municipality of Zele was declared Roparun City and FireWare is proud having helped to make it happen. The Roparun is a sponsor relay race from Paris and Hamburg to Rotterdam. The proceeds of the sponsor funds collected by the runners are entirely donated to cancer research. In 2019, the Kloddelopers, as the Zele people are affectionately nicknamed, gave the runners a warm welcome as well!

Zele: 15 years aflame for Roparun. This Roparun theme could not have been more up the FireWare alley. Together with a team of enthusiastic fire fighters, we helped build a two-headed dragon of 10 metres in height and 15 metres in length. The dragon spit actual fire with the built-in Stratus smoke generators and the lights shining in each head. There were also wooden houses alongside the road that looked as if they were on fire. The Cumulus and Phoenix simulated actual fire in the houses. This year, it was the 11th time for a FireWare team to come to Zele and help highlight the decor, and it keeps growing more spectacular by the year!

A warm welcome

Once again, the runners could count on a warm Zele welcome. It wasn’t really a surprise to hear that Zele had again, for the 11th time, been declared Roparun City for creating the most spectacular setting alongside the route of the race. The title comes with a price of 45,000 euros to be donated to charity. We deeply admire all those who have contributed to this amazing charity.

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Roparun 2016

“Adding life to the days, where all too often no more days can be added to life”, that’s the Roparun’s motto, a relay race of more than 500 kilometres from Paris and Hamburg to Rotterdam. Teams of people work together on a sporting achievement, in order to raise money for charities focussed on palliative care.

An increasing number of municipalities along the Roparun route are now organising all sorts of different events, making sure the passing through of participants is turned into a truly festive occasion. The villages and towns which have proven to be best at this are given the ‘Roparunner Town’ status and will receive a significant amount of money to spend on palliative care in their region.

Zele Sparkles in Space

The Belgian village of Zele takes welcoming the Roparunners incredibly seriously. The entire village is captured in the theme, which was ‘Zele Sparkles in Space’ this year. An actual replica of the Apollo 11, measuring an impressive 25 meters in height, was built for this purpose. Even a launch was simulated with 4 horizontally positioned Cumulus smoke machines and blaze spots.

A fantastic DJ made sure there was an excellent atmosphere in Zele. Hundreds of people cheered on the Roparunners during their passage. One particularly nice detail was that the mayor and aldermen were positioned at the very front right throughout the night. The three Zele teams were serenaded live by musical star Jurgen Stein, there was a big screen, stilt walkers, Martians and various stages ... Everything was done to give the runners a great boost, making sure they could continue through the night.

Working together isn’t something you can do on your own

Literally everything is done to make sure this is turned into a fantastic event every single year, under the inspiring leadership of the Zele Fire Service.

FireWare has been providing support for lighting up the village square and setting up various different effects since 2008. This year also included contributions from JE-BHV and ProFhire employees. Evelements made sure there were a sufficient number of floodlights.

Lighting up the village square is only a very small part of everything which needs to be done during the passing through of the Roparun. It’s incredibly inspiring to see how many people, with so much energy, put in such an amazing amount of selfless effort for the Roparun. Being part of all of this is a real honour.


Kloddezakken decorate Zele for charity

Fearless firefighters in tiny African skirts happily hosing down the cars accompanying the runners. ‘Zele’s Zulus’ helped decorating the city of Zele in African style, resulting in Zele’s first title of “Roparun city” in 2008. They have been defending their title for three years now and this year they are aiming for the title again. Firefighter Patrik Dauwe tells us about the Roparun and how a Belgian community finally came to understand the Dutch “Oranjegekte”, where an entire nation cheer as one.

What is the Roparun?

“Every year in May, a special relay race from Paris to Rotterdam is organised. People run a 530-kilometre race to collect money and attention for people suffering from cancer. The amount that is collected is meant for financing projects that will make cancer patients’ life more comfortable and increase the quality of their life. Hundreds of teams from France, Belgium and the Netherlands are running the race, year after year.”

How did Zele get involved?

“Zele got involved by the team “de Kloddelopers”. Zele’s people go by the nickname of Kloddezak, as Zele used to be a fabric centre. Some large flax factories provided in the life of the working class. People who collected flax were mocked and called “Kloddezak”, which means as much as “gunny bag”. A team of Zele runners has chosen that name to run for charity. A few years ago, the running track was rerouted and since then, the Roparun also passes through Zele.”

What is a Roparun city?

“At the end of the race, all runners nominate the city where they have felt most welcome. The runners are passing through Zele from 22:00 pm to 06:00 am, and we decorate the entire community fort his event. The Kloddelopers come up with a new theme every year and the entire city starts decorating the town in the spirit of the selected theme. The fire brigade of Zele is very actively involved in decorating the town hall and its surroundings. We have won the title of Roparun city three times since 2008.”

How does FireWare fit into this story?

“In 2009, the theme was the Netherlands. We built an entire Dutch village and added an actual wind mill of 18 meters high. Our commanding officer announced: ‘If you build the mill, I will ‘set it on fire’.” He contacted FireWare who at that time was just starting to explore Belgium. It didn’t take much to enthusiast FireWare and have them travel to Zele ‘to set fire to the mill’. And the results were simply amazing. People actually called in the emergency services: ‘The fire brigade’s mill is on fire!’”

How did the Dutch theme become otherwise clear?

“That was downright stunning! There were orange flags everywhere, everyone was dressed in orange and we ate croquettes on sandwiches. Finally, we understood the Dutch soccer madness and their Queen’s Day celebration. In daily life, Zele is kind of a quiet community, but once a year, the Roparun really turns the city Dutch. Every year, more than 10 000 people hit the streets to party!”

What happened next?

“FireWare knows the important things in life. Since their first involvement, they have been sponsoring the event with their materials. In 2010, the theme was ‘red’ and we used fire spots and light strips to create a waterfall of 12 meters high and a 60-meter fountain consisting of red fire hoses and nozzles. And one thing leads to another of course. The fire brigade of Zele now trains their people with FireWare materials and to their full satisfaction. Talk about high quality!”