February 2006 - Fitness and activity level of the Dutch

Both Trent and I have been amazed and excited about the activity level of the people around us, since moving to Maastricht. We are thoroughly enjoying the active lifestyle.

I should start by saying that Maastricht, which is about the population of Guelph, Ontario (100,000), has over 40 different football (soccer) pitches, with about 20 of them in one location in an area called Sportpark Gessalt. Now, these aren’t just open grass areas—they are pristine, perfectly manicured turf (in fact sometimes we get kicked off of them since they are only for the soccer players). Trent and I also recently found another soccer pitch in the middle of a forest we often run in, on the side of Mount St. Pieter. This field is absolutely perfect for doing some of our workouts on. These pitches are also being used nearly all the time from everything from little girls to 50+ year old men’s league soccer.

As well, on any given night when we are at the local track, there are at least 60+ people out training. The vast majority of these people are at a recreational level, but seem to enjoy the camaraderie that comes along with the training. And, these people are doing tough workouts, not just jogging, but doing interval training. Recently, many of these local runners participated in a local 10km race that we went to watch while doing our Sunday long run. This race was the most insane race course for a “fun run” I have ever seen. First, it was called the ENCI Mountain Run (or Enci Bergloop). It was a 3-loop course straight up and down the side of Mount St. Pieter (+ and – 600m), with a bunch of switch backs and roots and rocks everywhere. I laughed to myself, thinking how back home when we had a trail run at Guelph someone complained to me about a little erosion on the trail and how they “might” twist an ankle. Many people were slowed to a walk by the third loop on the uphill, since they were so steep, but still seemed to be enjoying themselves!

Trent also did a follow up race called the Mescherbergloop (yes another mountain run) and for those of you that have adobe acrobat and want to have a good laugh here is the race course elevation profile:

Also since being here and out on the trails, we keep running into these large groups of generally elderly people, walking with all this gear on, carrying walking sticks (they look like cross-country ski pools). I guess this is called “wandering” or Nordic walking (basically just hiking). Again, most of these people just seem happy to be outside enjoying the countryside and would think nothing of going out for a 20km walk on a Sunday afternoon.

We definitely enjoy and appreciate this type of active culture. It is so great to see people taking pride in their health and enjoying fitness – very important with the rate of obesity in the world today!
























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