The Elfstedentocht (which one can translate by Circuit of the eleven cities or Course of the eleven cities) is a race of endurance in very popular Speed skating to the Netherlands.
The race which makes a loop of almost 200 km unrolls on the channels, rivers and lakes cold between eleven cities of the area of the Frise: Leeuwarden, Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker, Dokkum and Leeuwarden again. This race is held only exceptionally, when the winters offer sufficiently cold conditions to allow ice-skating on the ice of the rivers and the channels. As the race attracts approximately 15.000 skaters, that requires a well formed ice that only a rather long period of strong frosts allows. The payment obliges from now on a thickness of ice of 15 cm over the entire length of the course and throughout all race.
The last race goes back to 1997 (dated April 15th, 2006) and it is held on average once every 6/7 years. 1997 were the first year besides when an artificial establishment of ice on some points of the course was carried out, especially under the bridges. In spite of that, there remain always some places where the ice is too fine for the mass of the skaters. These points known under the name of " points kluning" (of the Friesian language klúnje ), obliges the skaters to go with their shoes to circumvent them. At the time of the last edition, the organization has also to deal with some sabotages by salt deposit on points of the course by an organization opposed to this race, the " Committee Elfsteden Born ". But that does not have affected the very great popularity of this test, true national event in the Netherlands, popularity which its scarcity did nothing but reinforce through all the country. One day before the race, when the behavior of this one is officially announced, of many Dutch go to Leeuwarden which lives then in a festive atmosphere especially the night preceding the test called the Nacht van Leeuwarden or Harms of Leeuwarden.
The often cold winters of the Netherlands with the cold channels and lakes generated a tradition of the iceskate. The country shelters also many skating rinks with race tracks. The speed skating has row of national sport there, bringing its batch of medals to each Olympiad. Elfstedentocht attracts 15.000 skaters amateurs who spring after the skaters of competition. Much Dutch goes in Plank to attend the race, race which is retransmise on line on television Dutchwoman.
HistoryThe Elfstedentocht was already a Friesian tradition when in 1890, Pim Mulier conceived the idea of an organized turn, which was held for the first time in 1909. After this race an association, the Vereniging De Friesche Elf Steden is created to deal with its organization. Since 1909, the race was held only 15 times, meeting an increasing success.
In 1986, the prince Willem-Alexander took part in it, under pseudonym W.A. van Buren.
Very dependant on the climatic conditions, of the 15 official races organized since 1909,3 were done in period of thaw (>0°C), four during a light gel (~0°C), three during a moderate gel and five during an important gel (<-10°C). The most terrible race was that of January 18th, 1963. With a temperature of -18°C at the beginning and the Plank since 2 days under more than 20 cm of snow, only 1% of the participants finished the race, a violent snowstorm being declared in end-of-day.
(*) After the common victories of 1933 and 1940, when the men of head decided not to dispute a final sprint but to cross together the finishing line while being held by the hands, the Steering Committee decided to prohibit these common arrivals. Jan van der Hoorn, Aad de Koning, Jeen Nauta, Maus Wijnhout and Anton Verhoeven were unaware of this new rule however when they crossed together the finishing line in 1956. They were disqualified and no winner was declared this year there.
The women are authorized to take part in the competition only since 1985. Previously, they could only run with the amateurs. No female price was decreed what will not be any more the case at the time of the next edition. The women who crossed the line the first were:
The courseBelow the course of Elfstedentocht when it is run in the direction of the needles of a watch, as in 1985,1986 and 1997. The distances between the cities can slightly vary according to the layout. Mileage given is that 1997.
0 km: Leeuwarden
- 22 km: Sneek
- 26 km: IJlst (municipality Wymbritseradiel)
- 40 km: Sloten (mun. Gaasterlân-Sleat)
- 66 km: Stavoren (mun. Nijefurd)
- 77 km: Hindeloopen (mun. Nijefurd)
- 86 km: Workum (mun. Nijefurd)
- 99 km: Bolsward
- 116 km: Harlingen
- 129 km: Franeker (mun. Franekeradeel)
- 174 km: Dokkum (mun. Dongeradeel)
- 199 km: Leeuwarden
Since 1974, there exists Elfstedentocht alternative, held in countries where the natural presence of glâce at each year is more certain than in the Netherlands. The first alternative took place in Norway in 1974, but fault of glâce the following year, it was moved in Finland in 1976. Then, it passed by the the United States, the Canada and finally the Poland.
Since 1985, two rival organizations hold each one a race per year. First is in Finland, with Kuopio or Oulu. The other was held initially in Poland but since 1987 is run on the lake Blanc ( Weissensee ) in Austria.
- Official site in Dutch and English
- Site of the area of the Plank devoted to the English test
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