Season's first skating marathon on natural ice in Haaksbergen tonight

Skaters take to the ice in the Onlanden nature reserve in Drenthe, at the Groningen border. 20 January 2019
Skaters take to the ice in the Onlanden nature reserve in Drenthe, at the Groningen border. 20 January 2019. (Photo: Screenshot / Jako Jellema / Twitter)

This winter's first skating marathon on natural ice will happen in Haaksbergen on Monday night. The ice on skating club IJSCH's rink was between 4 and 5 centimeters thick on Monday morning, thick enough for a marathon, national skating union KNSB announced on Twitter.

The marathon will start at 7:00 p.m. for women and 8:00 p.m. for men. Last year Simon Schouten and Manon Kamminga won the season's first skating marathon on natural ice, NU.nl reports.

Amsterdam sports club Festina flooded a small part of their Vondelpark facility for ice skating from 6:00 p.m. on Monday. This is the first time the tennis club is creating a skating rink. The club flooded three of its six tennis courts in Vondelpark, and expects that the rink will be able to handle around 250 skaters, AT5 reports. The rink will not be open to everyone - only Festina members and members of Dutch tennis association KNLTB are welcome. They can, however, bring a friend along. 

Festina is not the only Amsterdam club preparing for skating. The meadows at Tuinen van West has been flooded for days, and Sportpark De Eendracht hopes that the ice will be thick enough to skate on soon. "Things are going in the right direction", Menso de Maar, director of Sportpark de Eendracht said to AT5. 

Skating enthusiasts already took to the ice in a number of places in the Netherlands over the weekend, including in Bladel, Doorn and Amersfoort. "It was great. Sensational to again have natural ice under the skates", 79-year-old Jochum de Vries said to NOS after skating in the Ryptsjerkerpolder in Friesland on Sunday. "It was wonderfully calm and beautiful weather. But we stayed close to the side and had to watch out to avoid falling, because broken ice is obviously sharp."

At the same time, the fire department in Kampen warns against skating on natural ice yet. "The ice is not thick enough yet for skating or other ice fun", the fire brigade said on Twitter. "Do not endanger yourself and emergency services unnecessarily and only go onto official skating- and ice rinks." 

The police in Oosterheem also warn people to be careful. "Children do not see the difference between a flooded meadow and a pond. Parents talk to your children about natural ice. Never go skating alone", a community police officer wrote on Twitter. 

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