Niek van der Linde has claimed his third non-stop 11 City Tour title after paddling all day and all night for more than 200km around the long, flat canals of Friesland in the Netherlands. The Dutchman crossed the line of this mind-boggling event just after 1pm on Sunday afternoon in the finishing town of Leeuwarden–the same place he started at lunchtime on Saturday.
Niek is the most successful paddler in non-stop history, having claimed the 2017 & 2019 crowns and finishing runner-up in 2018 by just 20 seconds. He’s also got the race record and is still the only person to ever complete the course in less than a day (just… his record from 2017 is 23 hours, 59 minutes).
When we interviewed him at the finish this afternoon, Niek spoke about nightmare winds on the lake, the zen-like calm of paddling all alone through the dead of night and the eerie feeling as thousands of birds descended upon the canals in what sounded like something straight out of a Hitchcock film. Niek was greeted at the line by his family, and despite not having slept, the champ didn’t rule out coming back for a shot at a fourth title in 12 months’ time…
FINISH LINE LIVE-STREAM REPLAY:
(includes interviews with the top finishers)
An hour after Niek, Ricardo Haverschmidt crossed the line as runner-up in an impressive time of 26 hours. Ricardo is a veteran of the five-day version of the 11 Cities but this was his first shot at the non-stop and he admitted it was a “whole different ball game.” But Rico held his pace all through the night and crossed in a very respectable time; most paddlers are just hoping to finish inside the 36 hour cut-off…
52-year-old Herman van den Berg was the third guy across the line, putting on a display that will give guys half his age no excuse not to tackle this ultra event. Herman, a former masters champion of the five-day 11 Cities, was paddling in support of the Mentelity Foundation, for which he’s raised more than 10,000 Euros by completing the non-stop.
Herman is in a tight battle with Richard Proost for third place on the overall adjusted finishing times — Richard is still out on the course but started two hours after his compatriot. The start of the non-stop event is staggered in four different waves to ensure the backmarkers aren’t too far behind the winners, though many paddlers will be lucky to finish before sunset on Sunday evening and inside the 36-hour cut-off. There have already been 3 withdrawals. UPDATE: Richard crosses the line ahead of Herman’s time and officially takes third place.
But the 11 Cities non-stop isn’t really even a race, it’s more of a personal challenge to simply complete the voyage. It’s one for your bucket list, if your bucket list includes things such as “lack of sleep,” “dehydration,” and “hallucinations.”
The lone woman in this year’s solo non-stop division is Emma Reijmerink, who has boldly attempted the entire race unsupported. Emma started yesterday with all of her gear strapped to hear board, including 15 litres of water. The Dutchwoman doesn’t plan to stop once and will refuse all outside assistance unless there’s an emergency.
Spare a thought for Team Scheveningen who are tackling the non-stop course on prone paddlerboards. Yes, prone. Because paddling 220km wasn’t hard enough to begin with 😅
We’ll be back with more coverage when the five-day 11 City Tour begins on Wednesday. In the meantime, follow the SUP11-City Tour on Facebook and Insta for more coverage from the volunteer media crew (who barely slept a wink themselves last night).
Here are the final results. Well done to everyone that completed this epic adventure.
Emma Reijmerink — 35:59:26
Niek Van Der Linde — 25:13:53
Ricardo Haverschmidt — 26:38:59
Richard Proost — 28:18:09
Herman Van Den Berg — 28:22:25
Jochum Steur — 29:13:25
Frank Proost — 31:30:46
Jelle Steenbeek — 32:14:54
Richard Wiesner — 32:47:57
Marek Splichal — 34:45:00
Thomas Schillig — 30:39:54 (incomplete course)
Mello Boer, Mattias Vagt, Kevin Kohn — DNF
Franck Siegel & Stephane Leblond — 28:07:22 (tandem team)
Team Nonstoppables — 28:12:31 (women’s team)
The Golden Girls — 31:55:04 (women’s team)
Team Scheveningen — 33:10:54 (mixed PRONE team)