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.



DateParticipantResidence Rijtijd
Saturday 2th of January 1909M. HoekstraWarga13.50
Wednesday 7th February 1912C.C.J. de KoningArnhem11.40
Saturday 27th January 1917C.C.J. de KoningArnhem9.53
Tuesday 12th of February 1929K. LeemburgLeeuwarden11.09
Saturday 16th December 1933A. de VriesDronrijp9.53
 S. CasteleinWartena 
Tuesday 30th January 1940P. KeizerDe Lier11.30
 A. AdemaFraneker 
 C. JongertAlkmaar 
 D. van der DuimWarga 
 S. WestraWarmenhuizen 
Thursday 6th February 1941A. AdemaFraneker9.19
Thursday 22th January 1942S. de GrootWeidum8.44
Saturday 8th February 1947J. van der HoornTer Aar10.51
Wednesday 3th February 1954J. van den BergNijbeets7.35
Tuesday 14th February 1956Geen prijs uitgereikt  
Friday 18th January 1963R. PapingOmmen10.59
Thursday 21th February 1985E. van BenthemSt. Jansklooster6.47
Wednesday 26 February 1986E. van BenthemSt. Jansklooster6.55
Saturday 4 January 1997H. AngenentAlphen a/d Rijn6.49

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.

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