The first marathon skating race on natural ice will go ahead on Wednesday evening in the Frisian town of Burgum, the sport’s national association KNSB has confirmed.
Freezing temperatures for the last two nights have enabled the outdoor race to take place nearly two weeks earlier than this year, after competitions organiser Willem Hut confirmed that the ice was solid enough to race.
‘We’ve gone round the course and we’ve seen we have the required 3 centimetres of ice. So this evening at 6.30pm we will have the first natural ice marathon here in Burgum,’ he said.
Willem Provily, chairman of the Bergum ice association – which uses the town’s Frisian name – said he was delighted and surprised to be able to host the race so early. ‘We need to put in some work to prepare the ice, but the temperatures look good for the rest of the day and we’re ready,’ he said.
The event will be broadcast live on NOS from 6.30pm.
The competition for the honour of hosting the first natural ice marathon between northern communities is intense. Last year the first race was held on December 26 in Noordlaren, and the Groningen village was among the front runners again this year, but lost out to Burgum.
Other contenders included Haaksbergen in Overijssel, Nieuw-Buinen in Drenthe and Puttershoek in Zuid-Holland.
‘It’s bad news for us,’ Jan Geert Veldman, chair of the De Hondsrug ice association in Noordlaren. ‘At 8am we had to report that the ice on one side hadn’t quite reached 3 centimetres. That’s the rules.’
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