In just over a year, bike couriers from around the world will descend upon Chicago, Illinois for the 2012 Cycle Messenger World Championships (CMWC).
The event is expected to attract upwards of 800 messengers, as only those who are currently working as bike messengers are eligible for the world title. “While cycle messenger competition definitely isn’t as mainstream as some events, it certainly has gained increasing popularity in the past few years,” said Christina Peck of the Cycle Messenger World Championships to BikeRadar. “[As a] messenger and traveling so much over the years has created so many amazing connections within the community… we want to keep the tradition alive and continue facilitating yearly events that brings together messengers from distant places to share their time and experiences.”
The 2012 Chicago Cycle Messenger World Championships dates are not determined but will kick off on a Saturday with a daylong qualifier races followed by the Sunday finals. According to Peck, the course will host a series of pick-ups and drop-offs dictated by a manifest, or series of manifests handed out as the race begins. “Typically, Saturday runs in heats,” Peck said. “The Sunday final race is typically pared down to about 50 participants that all begin the race simultaneously. The swiftest male and female finishers to handle the course and workload are crowned male and female champions.”
In addition to the main race, events will run throughout the weekend, including: pre-alleycats, skids, track stands, sprints, messenger prom, cargo haul, bike polo, and post-race barbeque.
Reigning champions Craig Etheridge from Seattle and Josephine Reitzel from Switzerland won their respective titles in Panajachel, Guatemala in 2010. They are expected to return to defend their titles at the up and coming 2011 Cycle Messenger Championships held from 27-31 July in Warsaw, Poland.
Chicago is no stranger to messenger championships events hosting the North American Cycle Courier Championship (NACCC) in 2008. Motivated to host a larger scale event, the city expressed an interest in hosting this year’s event but lost its bid against Warsaw in the 2009 election.
“A lot of work had already been exerted putting the bid together and we still were really excited about the idea of bringing the international messenger community to Chicago,” Peck said.
The Cycle Messenger World Championships started in 1993 in Berlin, Germany. The first winners were Andy Schneider in the men’s category and Ursi Haenny in the women’s category. Since the first event, messenger championships are held in various cities around the world to determine the fastest, most efficient working bicycle messengers every year.
“The feature of messenger championships is, and always has been, a race,” Peck said. “Each year the host city creates a controlled, closed course environment that mimics the stresses and excitement of everyday work for bike messengers. Since this event floats from city to city, it usually incorporates a taste of each city’s unique challenges.”
In addition to the 2012 Chicago Cycle Messenger World Championships, there are two other major championships every year beginning with the North American Cycle Courier Championships (NACCC) and the Europe Cycle Messenger Championships (ECMC).