The Dam tot Dam weekend is the biggest sports event package in the Netherlands. The main event is the Dam tot Dam Loop, a 10 mile run from Amsterdam to Zaandam. But this is not everything. There is the Dam tot Dam Fietsclassic, for example, a toertocht with start and finish ‘op te Dam’ in Amsterdam. And a nightrun, for the first time this year, 4 miles in Zaandam, just North of Amsterdam. What a perfect opportunity to finish an amazing season: nightrun on Saturday and Fietsclassic on Sunday morning. And I was not alone: Joris joined for the nightrun, Monique joined for the fietsclassic – another Europeana sports happening in the late summer of this year.

Part 1 – 1st edition Damloop by night

6,000 runners went to Zaandam on 20 September for the 1st edition of the nightrun. I thought this to be a good opportunity to test if I can apply my usual training performance at night to a race. For some reason I experienced that I’m better in evening runs than to any point earlier in the day. Also my personal best over 10km was from a nightrun. So lets see what is possible. I met Joris at the purple startblock, where the 1,500 runners of our block were caged for about 20 minutes, women and men separate, as it was promoted as the battle of the sexes, women against men – what the heck…. At 19:50 we were allowed to approach the startline, just to be entertained by animators doing all kinds of gangnam style rubbish with the runners – can we not just start running…you can hate the strict rules you experience in triathlon events, but it is a proper race, no show, no gangnam.

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Before the start of the Damloop by night.

Finally, at 20:00 we were off. I had the feeling that it took for ages until Joris was flying by. But the first two kilometres went really well, it took me 9:00, well on track, but I only burnt a straw fire before I started to behave like a steam engine, awful, the 3rd kilometre in 5:30. I have to speed up. I passed the 5km mark with 24:30, still very slow, I run this time during my lunch runs with Joris in the Haagse Bos, and lunchtime is not my best time of the day for sports. So what, lets enjoy the atmosphere, and this was really great. All kinds of light effects all over the place. The passage of Het Eiland was announced to be the highlight, and it really was, lots of people, lightshows, cool. And then the passage of the city centre, crowded, noisy, people were cheering, great. Here, I passed lots of people from the previous start wave, feels good, finally. Up into the finish, final 400 m, done, after 31:30, 353rd overall, position is ok, but the time is disappointing. Joris on the other hand took the motto of the Damloop serious, better your best, with an average of <4:00 per kilometre and 25:45 in total he finished 23rd overall, amazing.

After the finish, I grabbed my bag, run for the train to be home as early as possible to get enough sleep. Only 12h after the Damloop by Night the Dam tot Dam FietsClassic started in Amsterdam, the tenth and very final start for me in 2014 in an official endurance event.

Act 2 – Dam tot Dam FietsClassic

I met Monique at 8:15 at the Dam Square in Amsterdam, beautiful setting for a toertoecht. 6,000 cyclists were expected, and we were signed up for the 105km tour. We went out of Amsterdam and entered the runners course for those that do the 10 miles run later this morning. One highlight of the tour was the Ijtunnel, 1,140m long to Amsterdam North. Suddenly I had no traffic in front of me and went into the tunnel at full throttle, down the hill, that was fun, 50km/h. At the end of the tunnel I hit the first big bunch of cyclists, and then the painful part of the tour begun. We mainly followed the runners course to Zaandam, but the labelling was not perfect for cyclists, it was pretty chaotic, and then always left, right, left, right…after 10km of the runners course I had passed most of the big bunches and begun to cycle my own speed for the first time today. But it was still busy, I regularly drove into bunches, passed them before seeing the next bunch in front of me. The split of the 145km from the 105km tour brought the necessary improvement. Suddenly no big groups were on the road, great, which means a reduced likelihood for accidents, which means a much more constant speed, which means paying more attention to the scenary.

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Start and finish at the Dam Square in Amsterdam.

After the 2nd stempelpost in Monnickendam the real fun part of the tour began. First the course went on top of the Ijmeer dike for quite a while, and then still along the Ijmeer but at the road next to the dike. For the first bid I a had a good tailwind, but then the road turned and the wind was blowing into my face. A scooter made this stretch a fun part, running with a constant speed of 33-34km/h I had the best slipstream you can think of. The final 10km I was on my own again and hit my target of 3:30 2km before the finish line, but then I lost the signs, where to go. Together with a few other cyclists I navigated my way through Amsterdam, through the crowd queued up for the Damloop and through the crowd in the city of Amsterdam. Ten minutes for 2km…anyway, that was a good close for the season 2014. Not for Monique, who suffered from four punctures (four!!!) and then had to give up about 40km before Amsterdam, very disappointing. But 2015 is waiting already, first plans are made, new year, new opportunities, allez culture.