It is considered to be an exceptional athletic accomplishment to traverse all eleven Frisian towns on ice-skates over the course of a single day; a distance of nearly 200 kilometres.
Amongst the hundreds of men and women that completed the tour in the long winter of 1890/1891 at their own initiative, there was a sports pioneer called Willem “Pim” Mulier. He initiated the first officially organized “Elfstedentocht”. In 1909, the Frisian ice-skating association (Friesche Ijsbond), organized the first “Elfsteden” race.
The Frisian ice-skating association intended for this to be a one-off event. However, Mr. M.E. Hepkema, attorney in Leeuwarden, deemed this form of the ice-skating sport held potential. He considered an independent organizational body to be of importance in this respect. Several days later, on January 15 1909, he founded the “Vereniging De Friesche Elf Steden” (The eleven Frisian towns association), along with a number of enthusiastic fellow-Frisians. The objective of this association is to promote ice-related sports in the Province of Friesland, and especially, to organize the Elfstedentocht on skates, if possible on a yearly basis. Mr Hepkema was the association’s first chairman (1909-1947).
The Elfstedentoch comprises a race as well as a tour, which both take place on the same day and along the same route. Since 1909 the Elfstedentocht has taken place fifteen times.
|Saturday 2th of January 1909||M. Hoekstra||Warga||13.50|
|Wednesday 7th February 1912||C.C.J. de Koning||Arnhem||11.40|
|Saturday 27th January 1917||C.C.J. de Koning||Arnhem||9.53|
|Tuesday 12th of February 1929||K. Leemburg||Leeuwarden||11.09|
|Saturday 16th December 1933||A. de Vries||Dronrijp||9.53|
|Tuesday 30th January 1940||P. Keizer||De Lier||11.30|
|D. van der Duim||Warga|
|Thursday 6th February 1941||A. Adema||Franeker||9.19|
|Thursday 22th January 1942||S. de Groot||Weidum||8.44|
|Saturday 8th February 1947||J. van der Hoorn||Ter Aar||10.51|
|Wednesday 3th February 1954||J. van den Berg||Nijbeets||7.35|
|Tuesday 14th February 1956||Geen prijs uitgereikt|
|Friday 18th January 1963||R. Paping||Ommen||10.59|
|Thursday 21th February 1985||E. van Benthem||St. Jansklooster||6.47|
|Wednesday 26 February 1986||E. van Benthem||St. Jansklooster||6.55|
|Saturday 4 January 1997||H. Angenent||Alphen a/d Rijn||6.49|
Women and the race
1985 marked the first time women were allowed to take part in the race. That year, the first woman to arrive at the finish was Lenie van der Hoorn. In 1986 this honor befell Tineke Dijkshoorn and in 1997 it was Klasina Seinstra. When the next Elfstedentocht takes place, there will be a separate race for women. Then an official female winner will also be proclaimed for the first time.