Netherlands Beaches - The Hague to Amsterdam, Netherlands (Holland)
There is always a first time, and the first time I did a beach ultrarunning adventure was in The Netherlands. It started innocently enough, I asked my friend who I was visiting in Amsterdam, Netherlands where I could run 50k, and he gave me this great idea for a 50k run.
I should start by clearing up some confusion over the proper name for the country since you might have heard of the people or country referred to as:
The country’s official name is “The Kingdom of the Netherlands”. However, I’ve never heard the full name used in conversation. Holland is commonly used as the name for the country, but Holland only refers to two provinces within The Netherlands. And to keep it confusing, the people are called Dutch. I had to look this last part up and found that using Dutch to refer to the people in The Netherlands is called a demonym. Now you know!
Some of my best friends are from The Netherlands, so I’ve had a chance to visit many times. My last post was about a great place to train in Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Forest. This post is about the run I made along the coast taking advantage of some of the 280 miles (450 km) of nearly contiguous and accessible coastline in the country.
My day started out in central Amsterdam at my friend’s place. I woke up early and got my running gear on and headed to the train station. The first part of the trip was a train ride from Amsterdam to The Hague, a city located just off the coast 30 miles (50 km) south of Amsterdam. The train ride was about 40 minutes, just enough for a small power nap (since I didn’t get to bed till 3 am the night before). When I got to The Hague I wasted about 30 minutes trying to find a running store that sold gels. This was before I’d changed my fueling to Twix Bars and Gummi Bears (described in this post). Every gas station or airport convenience store has Twix Bars and Gummi Bears, so it is convenient nutrition since I can find them everywhere.
I tried to start my tracking as I crossed over the bridge to the beach. However, I was using MapMyRun at the time and couldn’t log in since my data plan was not working on my phone. Fortunately, I also had Gaia GPS, but had just started using it so was not saving my runs. It’s the one run on my site I don’t have a track of my run. I now always use two trackers, Strava and Gaia GPS so I never lose a track.
The day was perfect with blue skies and a calm breeze off the ocean. That summer in Europe had been cold and rainy that year, so this was an unexpected surprise because of how perfect the weather was for a beach run. The sand was nicely packed in almost all places and easy to run on. My feet could keep almost completely dry except for just a few places where you had to run through water that had made mini sand bars. The main surprise of the run was the number of naked people I came across. It wasn’t very surprising that near each city there would be a lot of beach goers, but once you got a mile from the main people, then there would be different clusters of naked people. Maybe not so unusual in Europe, but as an American I don’t come across naked people often. About 90% of the run I had the entire beach to myself. This made for a relaxing day. There were also vendors out selling water and snacks, so even thought it was hot it was never a problem staying hydrated.
The run ended by turning right from the beach into the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, just a few miles south of the water inlet to the Port of Amsterdam. I was surprised to transition from beach to a nature park so quickly, especially seeing the native cows grazing along the way. The track through the nature park extended almost all the way to the small train station at Santpoort-Noord.
This run is a great example of a convenient ultrarunning destination. Even though you may stay in a densely populated city, a short train ride takes you away to the start of an epic day. Hard packed beach, dunes, ocean breezes, a nature park and some quality people watching make this an ultrarunning destination you do not want to miss.