Paddle boarding’s ultimate endurance athlete, Bart de Zwart, is back at it again. This past weekend saw the Starboard SUP team rider tackle yet another gruelling SUP 11-City Challenge, completing the 220km non-stop tour around Holland to finish 2nd behind Niek van de Linde, in an impressive 26hrs and 18mins. Completing this years non-stop SUP 11-City Tour racks up an impressive 13 finishes (3 non-stops) in just 11 years (that’s right, Bart has also completed back-to-back events in prior years). The Dutch super paddler recaps this year’s event:
This year wasn’t the easiest – was made really tough by the challenging weather conditions. The non-stop edition does the race in one go instead of 5-day stages.
A record 24 non-stop racers for this year’s race started on Saturday morning. It started as a beautiful day, with sunshine and light winds but by the end of the day, we were fighting the wind and rain against us.
For the Yukon race in Canada this year I had trained hard but it is hard to regain the same level of fitness in race 8 weeks later which I realized the few weeks before the race and now even more 5 hrs into the race. I started well with a good race pace with Miguel from Spain and Niek van de Linde close behind me. After 5 hrs we were still within 20 meters from each other. But before the evening started I couldn’t hold the same pace and Niek was slowly getting away. Miguel and I traded places for many hours until he gave up when the water got really nasty and darkness fell.
I kept up my pace hoping I would catch up with Niek. I was using the New 2020 Sprint which was gliding through the water whenever the wind was not directly in my face which was s a struggle for everybody. A race like simply means eat- drink-paddle for 24-hours straight. At some point you don’t feel like eating but know that you have to keep the fuel going.
Slower racers started 4 hrs ahead of us which we slowly past during the night. I had some happy encounters in the middle of the night with race friends I hadn’t seen for a while but there was not much more time than a few encouraging words and on we go. My muscles were super sore from the constant battle with the changing weather conditions but Id didn’t feel sleepy and came through the night quite good.
When the night was over 8 racers had given up already. In the early morning, I realized Niek in 1st, was too far to catch and the 3rd was many hours behind me, no man’s land. My Dad Ernst and friend Eric support me from the shore about every 2-3 hrs they would be there to change my liquid fuel and food. That is basically how you do it, one part at the time.
I know the route pretty well now, even during the night which can be very tricky in the pitch dark. It is amazing though how much you can see in the dark. The last 3 hrs, you have to backtrack the route to get to the finish which is nice because you meet a lot of racers which are behind you again.
As you can imagine, reaching the finish is always a delight. After 26 hrs and 18 min, I came in 2nd. Ready for a good massage, meal and some well deserved rest. It was definitely one of the harder races I had done.
2019 Non-stop SUP 11-City Tour Podium Results:
1st Niek van de Linde 24 hr 20 min
2nd Bart de Zwart 26 hr 18 min
3rd Carsten Schuur 31hr 7 min