Snowy Range Pass

Snowy Range Pass

Friday, February 10, 2012


The Netherlands is currently occupied not so much with the severe weather in Europe, but rather that this may allow the skating race known as the Elfstedentocht to be run. This race has been referred to as almost mystical. It is a 200KM (125 mile) race between 11 Frisian towns in the north of the Netherlands. It is not very often that the weather conditions allow the race, since at least six inches of ice is necessary across the complete route which includes canals, rivers, and lakes. It is expected that more than 16000 skaters will take part.

The first mention of an 11 city race was in 1760 and it became an organized event in 1909. What helps to make it so special is that since 1909, conditions have only allowed the race to be run 15 times. The last time was in 1997 with the fastest time of 6 hours and 49 minutes.

Now you may be wondering why this is a topic in a RV blog. In 1997, we were living in the Netherlands and were one of the many who braved the freezing conditions to watch the race. We were up before dawn to head to the town of Balk, so that we could watch the lead group of the race come flying through the town’s main canal.

I had purchased a sweatshirt from the 1987 race, so I would look like an old hand. Later we learned that the reason the shirt was so cheap was because the race that year did not actually took place. It had to be cancelled due to unsafe ice. It was so cold that we went back to Anneke’s parent’s house and watched the race in comfort. Later in the day we followed along the route to see the race at various points.

It is truly a Dutch tradition that is not to be missed if you are lucky enough to be there in one of the years that it occurs.

We are hoping that the weather continues to get colder, so the race can be run again after 15 years of waiting.

In addition to the race, this cold weather allowed us to spend some time enjoying some Frisian traditions ourselves, since Anneke’s parents lived on a canal in the boating town of Lemmer.


Gypsy said...

I think I would love to watch the race but don't know how long would be too long in the cold. It just wouldn't be the same on TV though.

Paul and Marsha Weaver OCT. 17, 2009 said...

How interesting. Great job on a history lesson I never knew existed. TV would be my choice for watching. I DO NOT like that very cold weather. I do hope the weather cooperates. ~wheresweaver

Kathy said...

Even as a Californian, I would love to see that ice skating race!!
Years ago there was a movie about the "Silver Skates", a race in the Netherlands. I wonder if it was about this race?!
Stay warm and enjoy the race!
Thanks for reading our blog!
Kathy from
PS It will be 76 degrees F this afternoon, hope that will keep you warm! :)

Laura said...

Disney's movie was "Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates", I never saw it but I hear it was a good one. How many long ice races could there be? I'll keep my fingers crossed that they can skate it this year.

Erin said...

Brrrr ... but I bet it's a great event to watch as long as you're bundled up in all the right layers.

ann van keulen said...

If the race is on you can watch it on the web.

Rick said...

Interesting post. Thanks for the history lesson and great photos of the frozen canals. It must be quite a race for sure.

Kevin Read said...

That sounds like an incredible race to watch, if you can stand the temperatures! Having been from Ottawa we know what it is like to be able to skate on a canal in the winter. Ottawa has about 7.8km (4.8mi) that when cleared is available for skating. I used to enjoy skating on it.


Paul and Marti Dahl said...

Really interesting and great pictures!

When I first saw your title, I thought I'd be handing you a tissue and saying "Bless You". ;c)

Mike and Terri said...

How interesting! Unfortunately I don't think I'd be able to brave those temps and would have to opt to watch it on TV.

Unknown said...

Hi Chuck and Anneke, Thanks for your supportive comments over at A Camp Host's Meanderings. I guess I still dream of a real full-time RVing lifestyle where you travel about following your wanderlust. We live in The Jazz but we are pretty stationary of late. But then again, how would I be able to live on a 450 acre property than through park volunteering? Yes, there is always that struggle I think for family connectedness through living in a house near them and the call of the wanderlust. I hope you two have a wonderful week. Thanks for that post about Elfstedentocht. It reminds me of the Ididerod. Love it! Levonne

Anonymous said...

I could do that with all my goalie equipment on!!!! :>