"Elfstedentocht" is Dutch for Frenzy. (Not Really.)

A standard hockey rink is roughly 200 feet long and 85 feet wide, which means that the perimeter is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 570 feet. For our purposes, and because you wouldn't be straddling the boards while skating anyway, let's use 550. Anyhow, let's say that for some reason you wanted to skate a mile on the ice, that'd be just over nine and a half times around the rink. And if - for reasons we can't begin to imagine - you wanted to skate 125 miles? That means you'd have to skate around the rink 1,200 times. Or you could go to the Netherlands.

We recently came across an article from the Radio Netherlands Worldwide whose author takes, "a personal look at the sporting event whose very prospect has the Dutch in a frenzy."

And what is this sporting event in question? The reason the Dutch are in such a frenzy?

Continuing sub-zero temperatures are fuelling blanket media speculation that the legendary 200 kilometre Dutch skating marathon the Elfstedentocht - Eleven Cities Tour - will take place for the first time in 15 years. A definitive decision will be taken on Wednesday evening by organisers as to whether there is enough ice.

The author goes on to say that rather than don speed skates, he'd prefer to wear his hockey skates - something admirable enough, though the practicality of which certainly something to question.

"You're nuts," "you don't know what you're getting into," and "why are you taking the place of a real skater?" are some of the responses I get when I tell Dutch people of my plans. You see, most people who skate such long distances do so on speed skates, which have a longer blade and therefore give more power per stride. So, could they be right? Am I mad?

 Two hundred kilometres is a long way. You can go your own pace, but you do have to finish the tour by midnight. I have no idea if I would be able to make it on my hockey skates with their short blades.

Anyhow, as for when - and if, for that matter - this event will be happening, a write-up on NPR says that:

The exact race day hasn't been set but it will probably occur soon: the cold snap that's gripped much of Europe is likely to end. Anxiety is growing because a last minute thaw could kill the race's best chances in 15 years. That's right, the Elfstedentoch isn't an annual event - the last time it was staged was in 1997. It's only held when weather conditions are perfectly icy.

And if you're still interested in learning more and have maybe half an hour to spare - or maybe you've got some odd desire to get a gander of Dutch fashion from the 80s - there's this documentary as well. Enjoy!

NPR: Dutch Volunteers Clear Snow Off Ice, Hoping For A Rare Speedskating Event

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