It was a bright, sunny morning in the rural Dutch province of Friesland. The locals were sitting at cafes on the banks of the canal sipping coffees and enjoying the last days of summer. The flag of Friesland – a province that considers itself more of a nation – fluttered gently in the breeze. And as is the norm in the Netherlands, bikes outnumbered cars on the road by four to one. But down on the water, something rather extraordinary was happening.
Coming around the final corner, passing under the final bridge and taking the final few paddle strokes, Niek van der Linde crossed the finish line in the host city of Leeuwarden to complete one of the most incredible performances our sport has ever seen. After completing an entire lap around Friesland – along seemingly-endless canals, through quaint villages and across pancake-flat farmlands – Niek finished the 204km “Non-Stop” edition of the famous SUP11-City Tour in an utterly extraordinary time of 23 hours, 32 minutes and 16 seconds.
Simply finishing this quest is an achievement, doing so in less than a day is mind-boggling… → READ MORE
Welcome to Ultra Month. Over the next 18 days we’ll see close to 1000km paddled across six adventures in five countries, and the first of those is arguably the toughest.
The non-stop edition of the famous SUP11-City Tour is happening in the Dutch province of Friesland this weekend, 4-5 September. And it’s tough. It’s really, really tough. Competitors paddle all day, all night and all day again. Many won’t make it to the finish, and those who do will usually have hands covered in blisters and feet so swollen they can hardly walk. → READ MORE
The Ultras. There’s something about these immense challenges that piques the interest of so many paddlers in equal parts excitement and nerves. A bootcamp for both the body and mind, an ultra-marathon paddle “race” (adventure would be a more fitting term) is an exercise in physical strength and mental stamina that will beat you down, build you back up and probably leave you changed as a person… → READ MORE
“Remove from the heat, crumble in the cheese and stir until melted. Add the thyme then transfer to a large bowl. Allow to cool a little, and then stir in the egg yolks and season.”
I was listening to a recipe for blue cheese soufflé with pommes frites, and I was also watching a climactic stage of the biggest race in the world. Bizarrely, this odd combination made perfect sense. Even more bizarre, I could see the future of stand up paddling coming to a boil as the Eurosport commentator ran through his daily recipe during stage 17 of this year’s Tour de France. → READ MORE
It was around the 560-kilometre mark of the Yukon River Quest that it finally clicked. Tired, dazed, and with every part of my body screaming out to stop after more than 50 hours of paddling, it hit me like a parting of the seas: The reason why we love these ultra-marathon events (or “ultras”) is because they’re so much more than just a race.
This wasn’t entirely news to me — I’d already paddled the 220km 11-City Tour several times and submerged myself in the unique camaraderie of the ultra paddling community — but I hadn’t been able to put it into words before. Perhaps it was the morning mist, its ghostly silhouettes gently rising from the river as the midnight sun rose above the treetops and blessed the valley with its warmth, a moose and its calf roaming the distant shore in this wild, remote and incredibly beautiful corner of Canada.
Or maybe I was just hallucinating again.
Either way, that was the moment I realised my passion, my purpose, my “reason why” is to help promote these incredible paddling adventures known as the ultras and help grow this amazing community of crazy, ultra-endurance paddlers. → READ MORE
Looking back at last weekend’s action and previewing the big week ahead. Featured this week: The Alpine Lakes Tour, Euro Tour, Titou, Bruno, Fiona, Espe, Casper and the Ultras
(can’t see the embedded pics? view on Insta)