The 'Elfstedentocht' at almost 200 kilometres (120 mi), is a traditional Dutch speed skating match (with 200 contestants) and a leisure skating tour (with 16,000 skaters). It is held in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands, touching each and every city (by history) of the province. It is held, in practice in January or February and not more than once in a year, when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimetres (6 in) thick; sometimes on consecutive years, other times with gaps that may exceed 20 years. When the ice is suitable the tour is announced, and starts within 48 hours.
Source KV De Friesche Elf Steden.
Every contestant that has completed the tour within the specified time and who has collected all the stamps, will receive a medal called the elfstedenkruisje. Also the winners of the race will receive a lot of (media) attention and gain a lot of popularity.Source: KV de Friesche Elfsteden
Leeuwarden, the capitol of the province Fryslân is the starting and finish point of the race since the early days. The Race will bring the skaters accordingly to Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker, Dokkum and back to Leeuwarden again.Source map: de telegraaf
The eleven cities race, at almost 200 kilometers (120 mi). From city to city, crossing lakes and ditches. Passing meadows and going underneath tiny bridges. 100,000 visitors face the elements, cheering skaters passing by on the route.Source: KV de Friesche Elfsteden
On januari 18th, 1963 the 12th race was organized. This was the most harsh, and one of the coldest races in history. Many will remember this race because this was the first time ever that there was a live coverage on radio and television.
Each contestant will receive a stamp collecting card Elke deelnemer ontvangt bij inschrijving een stempelkaart. In de steden en op een aantal geheime plekken zijn controleposten ingericht. Daar moeten de wedstrijd- en de toerrijders persoonlijk hun stempelkaart tonen die vervolgens - handmatig! - wordt afgestempeld.KV de Friesche Elfsteden
During the race of 1963, hundreds or perhaps a thousand skaters have aborted the race early before reaching the cities Harlingen or Franeker. Most of them voluntarily, but some under duress. In Franeker even some skaters were put in jail.Source: Sportgeschiedenis.nl
Is this the year that the stamps collecting card will be replaced with a electronic card? Some skaters have lost the right for a medal (elfstedenkruisje) because they missed some necessary stamps on their card.KV de Friesche Elfsteden
In the end of 1908 the race was called up on a to be determined date. There would be the oportunity to sign up for the race untill the 5th of January. But when it kept freezing and the ice was tested to be good, the race was advanced quickly. A new end date for signing up quickly was set on januari 1st. Skaters who waited till new years day were late for joining the race. Even subscribers on the last day of the year even were not accepted for unknown reasons. In the end, only 48 skaters had signed up in time. On the day of the race a sudden thaw caused the majority of the skaters to abort the race. Finaly, the 23 skaters left to race who reported to the start at hotel Amicitia at Leeuwarden were told they had to use their own pleasure...Source: Geschiedenis24.nl
The fifth Elfstedentocht in 1933 has had 173 competitors of which 160 made it to the finish. Abe de Vries from the city Dronrijp and Sipke Castelein from Wartnena were the first to finish and it took them 9 hours and 53 minutes.
Long before media and marketing hyping the Elfstedentocht, Holland have been under the spell of de 'race of races'. Watch the early broadcasts of the news (polygoonjournaal) from 1933, 1942, 1947 and 1954.
A unique movie from Anton Stoelwinder from 1970, especialy because of an interview with Jacon Haye Kaastra, participant of the first Elfstedentocht in 1909. Later on completed with frames of the race in 1985.Source: Geschiedenis24.nl
Twenty hours of old elfstedentochten! Choose from following four categories: