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Holland's famed Eleven Cities Tour ice-skating rally called off due to thin ice

A famed Dutch ice-skating marathon has been called off because the ice is simply too thin.

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The words '11 steden,' or '11 cities,' are drawn yesterday in the snow in Bartlehiem, Netherlands on the route of the Elfstedentocht, or 'Eleven Cities Tour.' (ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP/Getty Images)

A crying shame for 16,000 ice skating enthusiasts.

Organizers of the famed Eleven Cities Tour decided today that ice on Dutch waterways was too thin to hold the 125-mile skating marathon, according to The Associated Press.

The marathon has not been held since 1997, but icy weather raised hopes that it would go ahead this year.

The decision was presumably prompted by fears that large numbers of Dutch ice skaters would tumble into frigid waters along the 22 waterways (canals, rivers and lakes) that make up the skating rally’s route.

The ice must be 15-centimeters, or about 6-inches, thick for skating to be allowed.

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“We can't let the tour go ahead at the moment," Frisian Eleven Cities Association Chairman Wiebe Wieling told a nationally televised news conference, according to the AP. "We're not proud of this decision. This is the decision we had to make."

The decision "was very difficult, but unanimous,” Wieling said, according to the AP, which noted that he did not rule out the possibility that the marathon could be staged later in the year.

The Netherlands has seen sub-zero temperatures for more than a week. According to Radio Netherlands, meteorologists are predicting a thaw at the weekend possibly followed by another freeze.

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According to the AP, skating enthusiasts had traveled from as far as Amsterdam to scrape at snow that could hinder the formation of ice. They were joined by uniformed soldiers who also shoveled snow for the same reason.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/benelux/120208/hollands-famed-eleven-cities-tour-ice-skating-rally-call