High Hopes for First Dutch Skating Marathon in 15 Years

By John Marsh
February 13, 2012, 4:17:50 AM EST

The historic Elfstedentocht marathon may finally take place again in the Netherlands this year, according to Reuters. The marathon has not taken place since 1997, but temperatures may finally be cold enough for skaters to take to the ice once more.

The marathon takes ice skaters through 11 Dutch cities and 200 kilometers (or 124 miles) of frozen canals. The skate has only happened 15 times since the 1909 inaugural race.

"Temperatures have been below normal from Japan all the way over to Spain," AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said. "Europe has been locked in this cold pattern for quite a while. Usually this time of year you have storm after storm slamming into Europe from the west. Normally they get their flow of air from over the Atlantic (Ocean) which is warmer."

Authorities involved in coordinating the marathon, however, remain doubtful that it will be able to take place this year. Chairman of De Koninklijke Vereniging Friesche Elf Steden (The Royal Society of Frisian Eleven Cities) Wiebe Wieling said, "It's frustrating, but unfortunately (it is) the reality."


"It's been so cold in Europe due to their main wind trajectories coming from Russia and from the north and east," Samuhel said. "They've been getting all that arctic air over Europe. The jet stream has been way to the south of Europe and that cold air is getting trapped. There's been a pattern that just blocked Europe from the warmer Atlantic air."

Europe has been locked in frigid temperatures that have claimed the lives of nearly 500 people. However, the pattern should finally change and deliver some warmer temperatures the beginning of next week.

"In the short term, the harsh weather will continue with a period of ice expected this weekend. However, the ice isn't expected to stick around long," Samuhel said. "It's kind of a weird pattern beyond though. They're going to warm up in northern parts as milder, Atlantic air gets shot up towards Scandinavia. It will then wrap around Scandinavia and come in from the north. It will get milder than recent days, but still remain colder than average."

The Netherlands should see temperatures above freezing for the first time all month around Monday or Tuesday.

"With the blast coming this weekend, temperatures will stay below zero°C for the area," Samuhel said. "It hasn't been above zero all month, and it's not getting above zero until early next week."

The marathon is most likely to remain cancelled, even with the cold blast this weekend. If the marathon does go ahead, it will be the first of its kind in 15 years.

"If they don't do it this year, who knows when it could happen again," Samuhel said.


Some information from this story was found at www.elfstedentocht.nl.

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