ORIGIN OF GLOBAL GUTZ
by Luk Keller
Just like alleycat racing itself Global Gutz roots back to Toronto. In the fall of 1999 I messengered in Toronto for a couple of months. Fish from Amsterdam, who worked there around that time, too, first brought up the idea of a courier race that would take place in several places around the globe simultaneously. Chatting about it in the street, we decided we should meet later that week to figure out a more precise draft.
I remember it was on a really crappy Thursday. Sleet had come down all day and my feet were frozen from the slush. I ran out of dry clothes that evening and I wasn’t really looking forward to going out again after showering. But I somehow felt it was my duty to get back into my moist clothes and meet Fish at his place. Local courier Kevin Hurley was also present. The three of us discussed a few possibilities of how to structure such a race. Perhaps it was because we were really tired and worn out by the shitty weather that day, the fact is that nothing fruitful came out of our first meeting about an as yet unnamed world wide bicycle courier race.
And there wasn’t a second meeting before I had to go back to Zurich. I kept thinking about the race for the coming months and then, in June of 2000, three month before the CMWC in Philly, I came up with a plan. I contacted Fish to ask him if he’d agree to me organizing the race by myself the way I thought it could work.
Fish was OK with it, so I started spreading the word over the email list and various other messenger channels. Every competitor in the race should pay a fee of approx. 5 US Dollars, so we could send the overall winners – male and female – to the CMWC. There was the risk of not getting enough money from the fees to pay for the two flights (depending on where the winners came from). And I also had my doubts about whether all the race organizers would actually send in the fees they took from their racers. After all, they might think them better spent on a keg for the after party. I knew I had to find somebody to back me up financially. The company I work for, Veloblitz, is a co-op and this being the golden years, my co-workers said they were willing to cover what’s missing for the prizes. Fortunately so, as I have to say. Because my presumption about the race organizers proved right and their sending in the fees didn’t work out too well.
Eleven cities competed in Global Gutz’ first edition. But many more cities had contacted me on behalf of the race. A guy from Sydney for example, who was really interested but who wasn’t sure if many couriers would participate at 5 a.m. on a Sunday. I was pretty sure my laying out the time table was as good as possible, so most cities had an acceptable time to race. But I felt for the couriers down under and in Japan with their impossible starting times. I knew some adjustments had to be made for the next edition. Global Gutz had to be split into two parts. Since I didn’t want to have the usual dividing line between the US and the Old Continent, I decided to us the Mississippi as the border line.
In 2001, flights were presented to the top male and female racer of each zone. This resulted in one Aussie more attending CMWC in Budapest. Personally, I was impressed how Jessy Heron from Melbourne made it to Hungary by winning the West-of-Mississippi race and went on to win medals in about three different events at the CMWC.
In 2002, we changed the modalities with the flights a bit. There were only two flights to the CMWC in Copenhagen for the race winners – top male and female overall. But an additional two tickets were given out by the CBMA (Copenhagen that is) lottery style among all the race organizers. That year Global Gutz had the biggest turnout so far with close to 600 racers world wide.
As I had always hoped this event would once establish itself and its headquarter would then move its base to a different city every year, I felt it was time to pass it on to a new committee. I knew from my own experience that you can feel quite empty after throwing the CMWC, so I felt my friends from Copenhagen were to be the right choice for the job. As I had supposed, Flip and his team from Copenhagen were willing to take on the task. From then on, the whole thing was out of my hands, so the following account could contain misinformation or at least inaccuracies. The Copenhagen committee successfully organized Global Gutz in 2003 and then again in 2004 as a shared effort with the guys from Berlin.
In 2005, there is a gap in the history of Global Gutz as that year nobody was willing to take responsibility for the world wide organization. The following year, Dirk and Mahrou from nice and shiny Barcelona started preparing the 2006 edition during their siesta time. Then, in 2007 and 2008 Toronto, the place of its origin itself became the Global Gutz world headquarters.
Once more two flight tickets were given out in order to bring that year’s male and female Global Gutz winners to the CMWC in the hometown of the GG-headquarters.
The eighth edition of Global Gutz had successfully happened when Tobisa, a fellow courier from Zurich, asked me, who would organize the event in 2009. I told him, there is still someone needed to be found for that job. He then suggested the two of us organizing it together.
So I agreed, probably out of sheer vanity, to throw this event once more myself. I want to make sure this ball keeps rolling and I hope someone will pick it up again next year.