The handbike rider Lutz Schimmeplpfeng from Wetzlar. (Images: Michael Agel)
The handbike rider Lutz Schimmeplpfeng from Wetzlar. (Images: Michael Agel)

City of Wetzlar

Move It!

A good way to measure the activity of a city is by its commitment to mass sports. Together with the sports authority and the clubs, the local sports committee Sportkreis 13 Wetzlar has got a lot moving in the last few years. Their joint aim: a sustained sporting commitment for people of all ages.

They have tuned, polished and lowered their vehicles. Wearing safety helmets and knee protectors, the pilots hurtle down the asphalt of Wetzlar’s Frankfurter Straße. And not a brake in sight! The route is challenging, the ramps raise the adrenalin levels of drivers and spectators alike. Right before the start, the vehicles are checked and technically adjusted. But it’s not only the technology that counts here. More than anything, it’s driving skills that get you past the post first in the 200 metre office chair race.

Encouraging people to take exercise in their everyday routine

Many employees sit on an office chair every day without moving it very far from their desk. Used as a racing vehicle, a rolling seat like this demands a lot of body control and a feel for the road. You could say that the office chair race is symptomatic of the initiative to encourage people to take exercise in their everyday routine and beyond. And it stands for a sporting commitment that in Wetzlar extends far beyond the work of the sports clubs. Because it’s not a sports club that organizes the office chair race, but the service club Round Table 86 Wetzlar. “Anyone who has ever sat on an office chair can compete in the Hessian Office Chair Race Championships,” says Steffen Schnorr, President of Round Table 86 Wetzlar and one of the initiators and organizers. “All you need is a bit of courage and a helmet."

The Sports Festival mobilizes the people of Wetzlar

In August 2011, the 2nd Hessian Office Chair Race Championships attracted many encouraged and interested people. Already one year before, the race itself premiered within the framework of the Sports Festival – an event arranged as part of the “Mission Olympic” competition for towns that literally moved many Wetzlar residents. Nearly everybody in the town on the banks of the river Lahn was on their feet. Coming second among 100 German towns in the competition was a tremendous success for Wetzlar. “What’s much more important, however, is that now they’ve got going, the people of Wetzlar are really staying active,” emphasizes Gudrun Felkl, Chairwoman of the Sportkreis 13 Wetzlar. Because this is what the Sports Festival is all about: a sustained sporting commitment that mobilizes everybody, even people are not interested in high-performance and top-level sport.

Sportkreis 13 Wetzlar supports sports activities in the region

As a representative of the Hessian Sports Federation, Sportkreis 13 Wetzlar is dedicated to the sustained support of sporting activities. It also ensures that children are motivated to join in sports from an early age by liaising with kindergardens and schools. “We want to make it easier for children to engage in sports and break communication barriers”, says Felkl. This is the aim of the “Flitzen statt Sitzen“ (“Don’t sit – flit!“) initiative introduced by the Sportkreis in cooperation with the State School Authority, the Wetzlar Child Protection Association and the Weiße Ring support group for the victims of crime in the Lahn-Dill region. Children beginning primary school who have not yet joined a sports club are given vouchers for free membership in a club of the Hessian Sports Federation to encourage them to take up sports.

Sport is a part of the quality of life

The project is financed with sponsor money and funds from the model project ‘Integration’. Gudrun Felkl is convinced that the cooperation with the region’s political parties, schools, clubs and industries is crucially important for making things happen. “Sport is a part of the quality of life,” she says. “Not only for individuals but also for the whole community of a town. That’s why we see a political side to the work we do, because it is important for making people want to move to Wetzlar and stay here, for attracting companies that create jobs and for fostering social cohesiveness.”

The wheelchair sports club RSV Lahn-Dill

The opportunities for a sociable get-together, combined with the motivation to take up sports, are also the reason for the activities of the RSV Lahn-Dill. The wheelchair sports club is a sports club like any other. The only difference is that all sporting activities are done in a wheelchair – from tennis and basketball or handbike to mass sports. Although most of the 183 members are physically disabled, the club is keen to point out that all the sports are open to the non-disabled, too. In the case of wheelchair basketball, for instance, the non-disabled players sit in a wheelchair and play together with the disabled players. In the 30 years of the club’s history, the number of members has almost quintupled – the wide range of sports offered by the RSV is extremely popular in Wetzlar and in the whole Lahn-Dill region.

More than 3,500 participate in the Wetzlar Bridge Race

A lot more recent, but equally popular, is the annual Wetzlar Bridge Race. The idea of the relay race was born ten years ago. Last year, more than 3,500 participants were counted. It’s not a race for individualists, but for teams – the team that has completed the most laps in an hour wins. “The real winner of the event is sport itself,” explains Gudrun Felkl, “because the entry and lap fees earned by the Bridge Race help to fund the sports commitment in Wetzlar.” This is how the free membership vouchers for the “Flitzen statt Sitzen” initiative are re-financed, for instance.

A ten-day program of sports at the Hessentag 2012

Alongside many other events, the office chair race and the bridge race are now permanent fixtures in Wetzlar’s sporting calendar. And then the whole town is eagerly awaiting this year’s great event: the Hessentag 2012 in Wetzlar – and the sporting opportunities it will provide. The sports authority, the Sportkreis and the clubs will be organizing a ten-day program of sports, and preparations are already in full swing. “We can look forward to moving times – in every sense of the word,” says Gudrun Felkl.


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Henner Seibert from Wetzlar won the 2nd Hessian Office Chair Race Championships.
Henner Seibert from Wetzlar won the 2nd Hessian Office Chair Race Championships.
Lisa Müller is preparing for the annual Wetzlar Bridge Race.
Lisa Müller is preparing for the annual Wetzlar Bridge Race.