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"Den Mann mit dem Hammer verhauen, niemals wieder wird er Ultra versauen"

Wolfgang Gräf

Nächster Ultramarathon

Martien Baars , 05. Mai 2003

Originally published in http://www.ultramarathonworld.com in 2003

UW - Texel 120 Km and 60Km 2003 - Netherlands

By Martien Baars, Ultramarathon World

Texel, The Netherlands (UW)

The 7th edition of the biannual race around the island Texel on Easter Monday took place in conditions that were very different compared with previous editions.

As usual, the runners faced a long high tide period along the beach parts in the morning, but there was a strip of hard, wet sand along the waterline to keep pace. It was now especially the warm weather in the afternoon that caused the problems.

The run around the island Texel is notorious for its stiff SW wind, but this time the wind was weak and from the east, and almost lacking in the course of the day. Temperatures rose well over 20 degrees Celcius, and the organization was busy to supply extra amounts of water to the refreshment points.

Special start (120Km)

The start field in the ‘double around Texel’ amounted to 16 participants (14 males plus two females), somewhat less than for the 2001 edition (with 19). Several top runners from Holland, Belgium and Germany were absent because of their participation in the EC 100Km in Moscow or because of their start in the Trans-Europe Run (both on Saturday 19 April of the Easter weekend).

Very much missed was also Guus Smit, an ultrarunner that loved the 120Km Texel so much (he won the 1999 edition). In the past years Guus had extended his ultra adventures to other challenges like stage runs (Spreelauf, Trans Gaule) and to famous ultraruns on other continents. Guus died sadly while participating in such an event: during the 127Km Grand Raid on the island Réunion on 19 October 2002.

Just the week before Texel, a Dutch translation of the official report (in French) by the authorities of Réunion on the accident was published on the website www.UltraNED.org (16 April). That report made clear that his death was very bad luck. During the ascent of the steep Roche Ecrite (30Km before the finish), two runners had a break for some food and drink, and thereby blocked the very narrow and dangerous path for others.

When Guus reached this point, he thus decided to stop just some meters below them, and to wait quietly. Unfortunately, he sat down on a large stone that was not stable enough to carry his weight. When the stone suddenly turned over, Guus was unable to correct from his sitting position and fell with the stone some 100 meters deep into the ravine. Red Cross helpers were warned by mobile phone by the two eyewitnesses, and after they had descended to the site of the body, concluded that he was presumably instantly killed.

The Texel 120Km start at the bike track in Den Burg at 04:35 in the dark was done by special guest Kees Smit, the brother of Guus, to commemorate the special relation that Guus had with the race around Texel.

Wim-Bart Knol

Kees Smit’s role on Easter Monday was also to bike with city-fellow and top favorite Wim-Bart Knol (The Hague). The other 120Km runners were accompanied by a biker from Texel in this first anti-clockwise loop, for guidance and refreshments. After 15 km, when a remarkably nice sunrise started, Wim-Bart led the field by two minutes. After 30 km he increased this to eight minutes, and steadily kept his pace of just over 12 km/hour during the beach-parts in the next 30 kilometers. Wim-Bart is an experienced beach-runner, and the three-times winner (1997, 1998, 2000) of the Jan Knippenberg Memorial. This ‘twin race’ of Texel consists of nearly 100 miles along the beach of Holland, from Den Helder to Hook of Holland, and is run during Easter of the even years.

Knol reached the turning point near the ferry harbour in 4.46, and did not lose much of his pace during the second, clockwise loop either. Still accompanied by biker Kees Smit, he completed the second half in 4.58. Noteworthy, this loop time would have represented the 7th place overall in the 60 Km race! His finish time of 9.44 is the second best of the all-time 120Km ranking after sixth editions. The previous finish times of winners and runner-ups ranges 9.46 - 10.01, except for the superb 9.23 of Dirk Westerduin (1997). During the prize ceremony, Knol took the microphone and dedicated his victory to his late running friend Guus.

56% finished

The winners podium was completed by runner-up Jan Nabuurs, who kept the damage at the finish line limited to 60 minutes.Tom Hendriks finished third, after 84 minutes. Tom is regarded as the most important member of the Dutch ultra community, as his company is also the provider for UltraNED.

Fourth place André van der Zwan and fifth place Sjoerd Slaaf managed both to finish well within 12 hours. Therewith, André became record-holder for the 120 km: no one else has now three finish times out of three Texel starts! Whereas these runners did not suffer apparently much of beach and warmth, the 120 km field behind them had more problems.

Only three other males managed to finish in the late afternoon, and no less than 6 others had to drop out sooner or later, including Louis Emringer from Luxembourg. The two women among the participants, Ria Buiten and Lies Heijnen, started cautiously and run the whole day in the tail of the field.

Unfortunately, Ria had to stop after 103 km, but urged Lies to complete the run. When the organization was busy with the prize ceremony in the sport hall, Lies indeed managed to reach the almost deserted finish line entourage. As Lies supposed that her 12.46, outside the cutoff of 12.30, would not be rewarded with the women’s prize, she went straight to her room in the nearby youth hostel.

That official cutoff is not strictly applied, however. After one’s entry for this ‘double around Texel’ is accepted by the organization (the formal obligation is to have a 100 km race result within 9.30), the runners are allowed to complete the race on own risk if the sag wagon overtakes them. One hour later, the organization managed to hand over the well-deserved prizes to a freshly-showered and grateful woman.

The old shoe - 60Km

A record field of 215 ultrarunners, most of them Dutch, started for the 60Km at 10:35 at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research near the ferry harbour. The winner of the previous race in 2001, Veron Lust, had cancelled his participation in the EC 100Km, in an early stage, as he suffered pneumonia this winter. A training stage in Kenya during some weeks in March went well, however, so he decided to try to defend his title at the 60Km Texel.

Right from the start he took the lead and ran solo around the island. Without competition, his finish time was 15 minutes above the course record (1995, Gerrit van Rotterdam 3.57), but he was delighted to receive once more the 60 km challenge trophy, the old shoe of famous Jan Knippenberg (the late founder of the Texel race).

The strongest pursuer was the German Bernhard Schlegel, who arrived six minutes in arrears. Both Lust and Schlegel, and also third place Jan Suijkerbuijk, were young masters (all three just 40 years of age), and behind them firstly 50 years old Jan Paagman finished before the first senior runner did, the sympathetic Belgium runner Patrick Kloek (38). Mean age of the 60 km participants was 45.6 years (similar to the 45.9 years in the 120 km), a new record as well. During the very first Texel edition in 1991 there was a mean age of 39 years over 50 runners …. Especially satisfied was 7th place overall finisher Jaap Vis (and first M45) as this runner from Groningen is the only one who has completed all 7 editions of the 60 km, with good finish times in addition (ranging 4.20 - 5.03)!

Women 60Km

Favorite in the women over 60Km was the Belgium 100Km team member Inez Jacquemart from Antwerp. Although she never ran Texel before, she had already shown she was abe to cope with beach parts very well: Inez completed the 50Km around Voorne - with start and finish in Brielle, and with a loop including 10 km beach - in a new course record time of 3.54 last year on 1 September.

In the warm conditions of Texel she performed splendidly as well and managed to finish 10th overall, in a good 5.07. The next two women finishers were Texel débuts, but experienced beach runners as well, Joke Keuning from the Hague and Ida Verduin from Schagen. Neither of them had any illusions of coping with the pace of Jacquemart, and they were thus very satisfied with their performances and places as well.

Both in the men and the women start-field there were many who not only made their début on Texel, but actually were entered in their very first ultramarathon. Many of them succeeded, but some also gave up. The latter débuts were in good company, however, as many of the experienced ultrarunners dropped out as well, due to the loose sand of some parts of the beach, and, of course, because of the abnormal warm conditions for Texel.

Normally, about 90% manage to complete the run, but this year only 78% reached the finish line at the bike track in Den Burg, the capital of the island. Remarkably, both finishers and drop outs praised the beautiful course and the readiness of all the 150 volunteers very much, and all were already looking forward to the next edition in 2005: on Easter Monday 28 March, would that imply snow during the race?

baars@nioz.nl ©(UW) www.ultramarathonworld.com - 5 May 2003


© Martien Baars , 05. Mai 2003
baars@nioz.nl

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