April Runs

… hikes, kickbikes, skis and more

Archive for the category “Ice skating”

Forget about running – skate!

Despite the disappointment the Dutch feel after their beloved Elfstedentocht has been cancelled, the nation did not get bitter. Quite the contrary: even the ones who never skated before now wanted to try and not to stay behind. The sport shops have been attacked by crowds in need of a pair of skates and virtually everybody was showing off at a local pond or canal anyway. I wonder how the country looks like from the air these days – probably thousands of little black dots moving fast forward between the undersnowed fields. Along the river where we walk with April the traffic gets heavier every day:But back to my own sporting activities. While checking the training totals on RunningFreeOnline (and finding out that the February skating figures totally outgrew the running attempts), an invitation for a funny Saturday afternoon activity landed in my Inbox: MORE SKATING! After 3 years of praying and promising, the ice layer at a pond of a friend of ours finally thickenned enough to attack it. So we did.The dark green tent was not bad either (soup, sausages and hot wine for everybody).

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Elfstedentocht (11 Cities Tour)

The Elfstedentocht, at almost 200 km, is the world’s largest speed skating competition and leisure skating tour, and is held in the province of Friesland in The Netherlands only when the ice along the entire course is 15 cm thick. Ever since the first race was organised in 1909, the ice conditions only allowed 15 races. The legendary one took place in 1963: the weather was so bad that out of 10.000 participants only 69 finished the race. So much for Wikipedia.

The Elfstedentocht is an amazing ice skating marathon, one that makes your heart beat faster, causes you fever, makes you wanna become a legend, too. If you once took part in the race, you somehow became a better person. So when last week it started freezing like hell, little by little the word started spreading that this year, after 15 years of winters not cold enough, the race might be organised again… Within 1 day, the Elfstedentocht was the number one news item in The Netherlands. The eyes of all nation were turned towards the 22 regional committee members in Friesland who regularly measured the ice thickness along the planned route and discussed if the ice could carry the weight of 16.000 expected participants. Hotels, restaurants and even camping sites started accumulating storage of food and blankets for the expected 2.000.000 visitors (!) who would travel to Friesland to view the race with their own eyes.

In the meantime, all people old and young digged out their ice skates from garages and attics and joined their neighbours on the local ponds and canals. One does not have to skate 200 km to feel a hero, after all. Various municipalities closed local water ways to allow water in the canals to freeze. The ice skating frenzy was on and went international: the CNN news published footage of people ice skating on the canals in Amsterdam.

And then something terrible happened tonight: the Elfstedentocht committee held a press conference to announce that the ice was not thick enough and Meteorological institute predicted the weather was going to change and it would not freeze hard enough for the ice to grow anymore…

(to be continued)

More skating

While Januay was totally dedicated to running, Feb is so far pretty much about skating. We went to check the ice tonight again. Turns out that ‘our’ skating rink (yes, I call it ‘our’ rink since we just bought the year-round membership!)  is voted one of the most romantic ones in South Holland. It is located at the egde of Castle Oud Poelgeest:The ice-club itself has a history of almost 120 years. Chances are that V.’s grandparents were members, too. Tonight, as we were skating our 12 km ‘workout’,  it looked like this:

Freezing February

1. The first post-Janathon weekend started  in a great way: On Friday afternoon, V. managed to come home from the office on time and brought our skates from the garage. So first we went to check if there was enough ice out there:

2. According to April it was okay but I was not so sure that the ice could carry us. On Saturday morning (after the gym session) we checked downtown Leiden as well:

3. There was definitely some fast growing ice there but still not enough to carry our weights. Luckily the alternative was near:

4. So the Saturday evening workout (the second one in just one day!!) consisted of one hour ice skating on the local natural ice skating rink. We managed to skate impressive 12 km. I think it was a considerable distance keeping in mind we do not possess the speed skating gear but one pair of ice hockey skates and one pair of figure skates. It was great fun and a great muscle check – Sunday morning hurt at places I did not even think muscles were at. Of course we went to gym anyway (5 km treadmill) as the Janathon spirit lives on!

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