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Dutch speedskater Sijm wins main races at Sylvan Lake marathon

Professionals expected to return in 2007

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SYLVAN LAKE, Alberta - The recent, fourth annual Spitz Sylvan Lake Ice Marathon attracted a great turnout for the two-day tour and race events at extreme low temperatures. Organizer Evert van Benthem, a two-time winner of the Eleven Cities Marathon in Friesland, the Netherlands, promised that the 2007 edition of the 200K race will see Dutch and other European professional skaters participate again.

Dutch skaters - both men and women - and Dutch Canadians dominated the enrollment lists with many other participants from elsewhere, such as from Ontario and Michigan. Richard Sijm, who lives in the Dutch village of Lutjebroek (near Enkhuizen), won the main menís events. He captured the 50K Open Canadian Championship and the 200K race the next day, finishing after six hours and 46 minutes. The Ďshorterí championship race was completed by Sijm in 1.24.43, five minutes ahead of Calgarian Yashiatsu Tanaka. Local skaters such as Rolf and Jos van Benthem, Freddy van der Linde, and Michiel Messing let winner Sijm beat them by up to thirty minutes.

The womenís 50km Open Canadian Championship was won by Michiganís Anna Ringsred, who posted a time of 1:37:02.9. Second-place finisher was Dutch skater Tineke Dijkshoorn of Schipluiden (1:40:16.0), who in 1985 had won the grueling Eleven Cities Marathon and at Sylvan Lake competed in the over 40 years of age category.

Sijm completed the 200K race in just over six hours and 46 minutes, 90 minutes over the time of last yearís (professional) winner Rob van Meggelen. Sijm finished 24 minutes faster than second-place finisher Merien van Benthem, and 42 minutes than Jake Maarse of Ottawa. Nine hours into the 200km race only one half of the 36 competitors had finished the 20 laps of the track.


Anne Ringsred also won the 100K race, setting a time of 3:44:53.5. Tineke Dijkshoorn took second place a minute later, Judy van Hyfte of Red Deer (3:59:13.9) came in third, Hillie vanít Klooster-Schurer of Olds (3:59:17.4) fourth and Maaike Van der Valk of Rotterdam (4:00:55.2) fifth. Most of the women also had participated - more or less in the same arrival order - in the 50K Open the previous day.

Trevor Nelson, of Prince George, BC, won the menís 100km race in 3:21:43.3, followed by Rick Dykstra of Innisfail (3:24:17.2), Kris Yip of Prince George (3:24:17.6), Lyle Dickieson of Prince George (3:26:17.2) and Freek Lok of Dronten (3:45:24.2). There were 10 female competitors and 34 male competitors in the 100km race.

Following the races on both Thursday and Saturday, the course was open for tour skaters who could do one to five laps around the 10km course. Organizers estimated about 90 skaters participated on Thursday and about 350 on Saturday. Funds raised by the tours will be donated to St. Johnís Ambulance and to the children of Guatemala.