Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dam tot Damloop 2010

Once a year, Niek and I take part in one of Amsterdam's biggest running races, the Dam tot Damloop.  It's a 10 mile race that takes you from Central Station in Amsterdam (The Dam) through Amsterdam-Noord to Zaandam (the "other" Dam) on the other side of the water.  Here's a little map I made for you in gmaps pedometer shows you the race.
Going to Amsterdam-Noord is like entering into a completely different world, one that doesn't have a lot to do with the goings on in the city.  Zaandam, as far as I know, is famous for its ties to the shipping industry, a visit by Czar Peter the Great in the seventeenth century, and delicious Verkade cookies.  I was trying to make a comparable analogy for the relationship between Amsterdam and Amsterdam-Noord to big cities in America, but the best I could come up with was the New Jersey/Manhattan or San Fernando Valley/Los Angeles relationship.  I kept thinking I should shy away from those, however, because they are loaded (super-loaded) with negative connotations for the areas that aren't considered as urban, and I mean Amsterdam-Noord no disrespect, nor do I mean any disrespect to New Jersey or the S.F. Valley.  In fact, I absolutely love this race and all the people who come out to support it.  Only about the first half-mile is run in Amsterdam.  After that you enter a tunnel that takes you under the water of het Ij and spits you back out in Amsterdam-Noord.  The course of the race feels like a ten-mile long street party as you pass through neighborhoods ready to take on the day with beer tents, speakers blaring upbeat 90's music (really, Jump Around by House of Pain made my run just that much better), and friendly updates on the Amsterdam vs. Rotterdam soccer game.  I especially loved the woman calling out encouragement to all the runners by saying, "Water hier en in Zaandam een bier." Water here and in Zaandam (the finish) a beer, because the promise of a good beer would make anyone run faster.  I believe that tactic worked just as well for me during a half-marathon in Green Bay a few years ago.
I especially love the fruit stop somewhere around the half-way mark.  The race has your normal water and sports drink stops with the truly disgusting Dutch sports drink, AA, which tastes kind of like an orange lollipop and coats your mouth like candy.  Why so many people clamor to grab their cups of it, I have no idea.  I have avoided it ever since my first (and last) sip.  At least the race isn't that long, and I wasn't in it to win it so I just stuck with the water.  But back to that fruit stand...It's about four cafeteria tables long and it was full of banana slices, orange slices and fresh melon slices.  Whoever decided this needed to be a staple of the race is a genius.  Without that little break, my last five miles would have been much less enjoyable.  I have started to look forward to getting to that stand, and I'm grateful to the jolly Amsterdammer in the apron just chopping away at all that fruit. Seriously, he looked really happy to be chopping up fruit.
All in all, I absolutely loved the Dam tot Damloop this year even if my legs felt like lead and a slightly annoying guy kept passing me and slowing down, passing me and slowing down.  Great running music on the course and lots of slightly inebriated spectators made for an enjoyable afternoon.  Niek had a great race and improved on his time from last year by almost fifteen minutes.  He's so awesome.  The only complaint I have, why no water at the finish? I do wish they would hand that out instead of a bottle of AA Drink, but I don't think it's in the Dutch genes to reach for water.  They think Americans drink too much of it.  I'll bet plenty of runners even ran to the nearest coffeehouse after the race to quench their thirst.  Oh, wait, that's what Niek and I did, and yes, my latt√© was quite delicious (after I had had my bottle of water).


  1. You have me searching maps again. My ancestors reportedly came from Staatendam, which may or not ever have existed as a real place; given that the family name went back and forth between Quick and Kwik (as Q is decidedly not Dutch), I've often thought that creative hearing may have made Zaandam into Staatendam... one ancestor's name went from Gutnijbuur to Gutjber to Goodneighbor!

  2. Steve, now you've got me looking for possibilities. I have discovered that Statendam was the name of an ocean liner from the Holland America line. Do you know if your family came from North Holland or a different province? That could help narrow down the choices.

  3. There've been five liners called Statendam and I'm wondering if maybe someone looking at old documents and not being able to read Dutch mistook the name of the boat for a launch site.

    btw, just read your chapter for the trails book. Mine is oddly travelogue-like in comparison.