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Foto: Daniël Rommens

UvA student Wietze Nicolaï about Dam tot Damloop: “Only started training last week”

Wessel Wierda,
15 september 2023 - 14:45

Next Sunday, September 17, the annual Dam tot Damloop will take place. Also UvA students participate. Student Wietze Nicolaï ran a little too fast in preparation for the race. Now he has knee problems. “It will take 10 minutes longer as a result, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Trekking from Amsterdam to Zaandam on foot? Even with the Fatbike, Veloretti, or VanMoof, not every student would be willing to do that. This Sunday, however, a completely different picture will emerge: Thousands of runners, including dozens of UvA students, will bravely venture into the annual Dam tot Damloop.


This means 16 kilometers of toil and suffering: first through the open IJ tunnel and then through the rural surroundings of Amsterdam-Noord, encouraged all along the way by hundreds of spectators and energized by music. 


Just try to keep calm and find the right cadence, goes the advice. Does every UvA student know what they’re getting into? We talked to econometrics student Wietze Nicolaï (23). His preparation was far from optimal, but he is not discouraged by it.


Wietze Nicolaï, UvA econometrics student

How did the idea come up to participate in the Dam tot Damloop?

“Last week my three roommates and I happened to see that it was the last day to register. So we did right away. We thought it would be fun to participate just to enjoy ourselves, for the social aspect. We’ll also have some friends at the finish line. If the weather is nice in Zaandam, we’ll hang out there after the race. And then we’ll go back to Amsterdam to eat and drink something together at home.”


Running more than 16 kilometers is a long way. How are you going to manage that?

“Yes, I’m aware of that,” he says confidently. “I ran a 21-kilometer half marathon when I was 18. Knowing that I’ve already run that once, I think 16 kilometers should be manageable, too.” He pauses a little longer: “Although that was also five years ago, so I’m less fit, but mentally it does help, I expect.”


How long have you been preparing for this?

“I started last Monday and did a quarter triathlon before the summer. I normally play soccer twice a week and then in the winter I skate once a week. I didn’t think it would be that challenging, but when I went for a workout the other day with my roommate who is a really good runner, I overexerted myself.” Nicolaï clearly regrets this. “Now my knee is bothering me. I ran a little too fast anyway so...,” he acknowledges. “Actually, I can’t train anymore. I just have to hope that it will work out, with perseverance.”

Eight tips from Folia

In 2018, former Folia editor Altan Erdogan, an avid marathon enthusiast, gave eight simple tips for people who are going to participate in the Dam tot Damloop. Briefly summarized:


1. Start slowly, and put the brakes on

2. Follow the trained runners, but don’t push yourself

3. Stop training shortly beforehand

4. Make sure your running shoes are in order

5. Forget about your app

6. Forget about your own music - or not

7. Pay attention to your own body temperature, and pay attention to others

8. Don’t stop or celebrate prematurely

How sad. I can imagine that you now look at this race very differently.

“At first I thought: Oh nice, a little run, and then we’ll celebrate that we did it. And now I’m starting to realize more and more that it could be a very bone-jarring race. So I’m starting to get a little more nervous as it gets closer and closer. But I’m still really looking forward to it.”


What time are you aiming for?

“I had an hour and a half in mind, but I think it will be an hour and forty minutes now because I’m not quite fit anymore.”


So you’re only allowing an extra 10 minutes because of your knee?

“Yes,” he laughs optimistically. “I’m like: as long as I don’t start out injured, I can get through it. And then the week after, I just won’t do anything. We’ll see. You also don’t know exactly when it’s going to bother you.”


In any case, I wish you good luck for Sunday!

“Thank you!” And after a moment’s hesitation: “I’m hoping I’ll make it now that I’ve been immortalized in an article. And that I can think back on it later as a beautiful memory!”