Rotterdam Marathon, April [Getty Images]
You’ll have to run a long way to find a hill in a Dutch race, which makes the Netherlands the perfect location if you’re looking to run your first or fastest race. The country boasts some of the world’s oldest, fastest and flattest marathons as well as a variety of innovative shorter races.
Choose from our pick of the best Dutch races, selected by Runner’s World Netherlands’ Editor Ysbrand Visser, and your training will seem downhill from here.
Egmond Half-Marathon, Egmond aan Zee (January)
2009 Date: January 11
Buck the trend of foreign runners heading to Dutch big-city marathons at the Egmond Half-Marathon. The route is a single loop starting with 5K through the coastal village of Egmond aan Zee before 7K across the beach and 9K through woods and dunes. The wind, weather and beach mean this popular race continues to grow every year, attracting 16,000 to the 2008 edition.
Race website: www.egmondhalvemarathon.nl
City-Pier-City Run, The Hague (March)
The Hague’s biggest sporting event celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2009. The series of races on offer – including a popular half-marathon, 10K and children’s race – are a great way to explore this culturally dynamic city, especially now that the half-marathon course has been changed to include more of the attractive city centre as well as pleasant parks and waterfront sections. An excellent public transport system means you’ll have no trouble making the most of the great shops for a post-race treat.
Race website: www.fortiscpcloop.nl
Runner's World Zandvoort Circuit Run, Zandvoort (March)
2009 Date: March 29
Runner's World's own race at the former Formula 1 race circuit is one of the most exciting new events on the Dutch running calendar. With a 5K and 12K to choose from, the course features an undulating 4K loop that’s an attractive combination of dunes, beach, wind and village. More than 9,000 entrants took part in the debut in 2008, with 15,000 expected for the 2009 edition. The beach resort also boasts accommodation for every budget.
Race website: www.rwcircuitrun.nl
Rotterdam Marathon (April)
2009 Date: April 5
Until recently, the Rotterdam Marathon was the world-record course thanks to its wide boulevards, lack of hills – unless you count the odd bridge and underpass – and long, straight roads. It might not be the prettiest route in the Netherlands but there’s no doubt that if you’re looking for a new personal best, this is the place to come. But even if you’re last, you won’t be forgotten: it’s race tradition that the winner honours the last runner.
Race website: www.fortismarathonrotterdam.nl
Enschede Marathon (April)
2009 Date: April 26
If you’re trying to race in every country in Europe, you can cross both the Netherlands and Germany off you list after this race, which briefly crosses the border into the German city of Gronau. The first edition took place in 1947, making it the oldest marathon in the Netherlands and the second oldest in Europe – the oldest is the Kosice Peace Marathon in Slovakia, in case you were wondering. Next year’s race takes place on the same day as the London Marathon – April 26, 2009 – and also features pacers, so if you’ve missed out on a place in London, you can go Dutch.
Race website: www.enschedemarathon.nl
Marikenloop, Nijmegen (May)
2009 Date: tbc
The Mariken Run (Marikenloop) in Nijmegen, a university town near the German border, is the largest ladies’ run in the Netherlands. Around 8,000 runners choose between a 5K and 10K, both along an attractive green route from the university campus to nearby nature reserves. The atmosphere is great thanks to a warm-up to music lead by the artist and runner Marike Jager. After the race there’s a pasta party to refuel as you explore the charity stands and kit retailers. The organising committee (which is the same as for the Zevenheuveneloop) is probably the most environmental friendly in the Netherlands.
Race website: www.marikenloop.nl
Dam to Damloop, September [Getty Images]
Dam tot Damloop, Amsterdam (September)
2009 Date: August 30
The biggest race in the Netherlands celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2009. More than 35,000 runners converge on this Amsterdam race, making it also the world’s biggest business run. Runners are seeded to prevent congestion at the start by the city’s Central Station before tackling the 10-mile band-lined route to the finish in Peperstraat, just across from the Dam in the centre of Zaandam.
Race website: www.damloop.nl
Amsterdam Marathon (October)
2009 Date: September 5
The fast, flat route of this popular marathon attracts every kind of runner from first-timer to elite. In 2008 more than 23,000 competitors from 60 countries tackled the two-lap city-centre course past many of Amsterdam’s premier tourist attractions including the Maritime Museum, historic canals and mansions, windmills, the Rijksmuseum and Vondelpark – the largest public park in Amsterdam. The course also passes through nature reserves on both sides of the river Amstel, so you’ll have a chance to watch runners on the opposite bank before heading to a grandstand finish in the 1928 Olympic Stadium. A single-loop half-marathon is also on offer.
Race website: www.ingamsterdammarathon.nl
Eindhoven Marathon (October)
2009 Date: tbc
The Eindhoven Marathon celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2008 with more than 50 bands lining the route to serenade the 17,000 runners who took part in the race. The course is a fast two-lap city-centre loop through the Netherlands’ fifth largest city, with a five-hour time limit. The marathon coincides with a runners’ festival that attracts 160,000 visitors. The race has been organized every year since 1990 – before that it took place intermittently.
Race website: www.marathoneindhoven.nl
Zevenheuvelenloop, Nijmegen (November)
2009 Date: tbc
Billed as the world’s fastest 15K race – we’re struggling to think of many others – the Zevenheuvelenloop (Seven Hills Race) celebrates its 25th edition in 2008. Thanks to those hills, where the Romans built a military camp more than 2000 years ago, Nijmegen is believed to be the oldest city in the Netherlands and this race makes the most of its attractive location. The race is limited to 22,000 runners and companies are encouraged to enter teams: the perfect excuse for a weekend away with your colleagues.
Race website: www.zevenheuvelenloop.nl