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Of Blades & Ice -- Ice skating stirs the blood of any true Frisian, and no event stirs it more than the Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour), a tough ice-skating hypermarathon that follows the canals on a 200km (125-mile) loop through 11 medieval Frisian towns, beginning in Bolsward (Boalsert). The first race was run in 1909, and it has been run only 13 times since, when the canals freeze solidly enough. When it was last run, in 1997, it drew 16,000 skaters and a half-million onlookers. In 1985, skater Evert van Benthem clocked a record time for the tour, getting around in 6 hours and 47 minutes.

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