Former Olympic Champion open water swimming Maarten van der Weijden goes extreme triathlon: 200-200-200

Maarten van der Weijden racing his Elfstedentriathlon (Picture: Instagram Maarten van der Weijden)

A 200km swim, a 200km bike and a 200km walk: that is exactly the goal Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden has set himself. To be more precise, the former Olympic Open Water Swimming Champion (10km, Beijing 2008) has been in the water for over three days already and will slowly but surely prepare for the remaining two parts of his triathlon.

Van der Weijden is doing this for a reason; with his “Maarten van der Weijden Foundation,” he is raising as much money as possible for cancer research and doing extreme challenges like this triathlon are part of his strategy to raise money and create awareness. Van der Weijden has had cancer himself and for years has been committed to raising as much money as possible for his foundation.

Van der Weijden follows the route of the notorious “Elfstedentocht” in the Netherlands. That is originally an ice skating race in the Dutch province Friesland, over more than 200 kilometers. In it, athletes skate from Leeuwarden trough eleven cities: Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker, Dokkum and back to Leeuwarden. The Elfstedentocht is very famous, but has not been run for years because there is almost never enough ice on Dutch canals. The last Elfstedentocht was ridden in 1997.

Still, the Elfstedentocht remains very popular among cyclists because you can complete the full loop on bike as well. Van der Weijden swam the Elfstedentocht several years ago already. But, this year he is going the extra mile by cycling and walking the loop as well, directly after his 200-kilometer swim. Van der Weijden wants to follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Stefan van der Pal – who completed the Elfstedentriathlon last year already and also raised a lot of money for cancer research thanks to that – but above all to raise an enormous amount of money. Van der Weijden has already raised millions for charity with his sporting achievements in the past.

You can follow a livestream of the attempt here: