Preparations

Up to the last moment it was uncertain

Preparations

Up to the last moment it was uncertain

For days on end the newspapers reported about the terrible cold, the condition of the ice, and the question whether or not the eleven-towns skating tour could be held. While on Wednesday the Eleven-lakes Skating Tour was cancelled because large parts of the route were completely covered in snow and would have to be done walking, it was announced on that same day that the Eleven-towns Tour would be held two days later. George Schweigmann, who had skated the Eleven-lakes Tour with a couple of friends on Wednesday, because they were there anyway and had taken a day off: “When we were driving home in the evening, exhausted, and listened to the radio in the car, we heard: “Friday the Eleven-towns Tour will be held”, we had a good laugh and said: “That’s impossible!”” Everyone knew that it was going to be a difficult tour. Even so there were more enthusiasts than ever before: 10.000 people entered the tour. They came from all parts of the country. The farm-hands, pupils, boat builders, doctors, PT instructors: from all levels of the population they arrived for the start, slept in other people’s homes or in large sheds and prepared themselves for the start of the more than 200 kilometres long tour at 6 o’clock in the morning. Tour skater Bovée wrote: “In Joure on the morning of 18 January it was 20,8 degrees below zero. Friesland was shivering with cold. The weather conditions on 18 January could be compared with cirumstances that occur regularly on the North Pole. Severe frost, wind freshening to force 7, ice unfit to skate on and last but not least drifts of powdery snow and the sun. The signs were not good. ...>. For Friday, the day of the tour, chairman Hoogland had asked the Frisian population to go in great force to the ice with snow-shovels. From the train we had already seen the dreadful circumstances in Friesland and we said to each other: “Taking part tomorrow will be bad, but staying at home will be even worse”. The tour of 1963 was to become a special one for me, a kind of polar expedition.” Photo captions: People from Brabant arrive by train Soldiers too took part Entering the tour Volunteers try to clear the track of snow