Dutch hope for marathon skating tour

RNW archive

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With the continuing sub-zero temperatures, people in the Netherlands are beginning to be gripped by skating fever. A number of marathon skating events have already been held in the great outdoors.

Former weatherman and meteorologist Harry Otten has told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that it may be possible to hold an edition of the Eleven Cities Tour round the frozen waterways of the Dutch province of Friesland this year. The outdoor marathon starts and finishes in the provincial capital Leeuwarden and goes through 10 other towns, covering a distance of almost 200 kilometres. It was last held in 1997.

Sweeping away snow
It’s not just a question of freezing temperatures - the ice has to be just right. If snow gathers on the surface for too long, the ice can be ruined for skating purposes. “If all the people in Friesland sweep the snow off the ice, we could hold an Eleven Cities Tour on 28 December,” Mr Otten says. “The thaw is not set to win out against the cold: at night, it’s going to continue freezing hard.”

White Christmas
Mr Otten is also predicting a white Christmas in the Netherlands. “Although the midday temperatures could rise to zero, the snow is so thick that it will stay,” he thinks.