The first Dam tot Damloop was held in 1985 and attracted over 50,000 runners. Originally the race was not competitive and was organised as a friendly tournament where running enthusiasts could test their abilities. These amateur athletes were joined by thousands of onlookers who encouraged their friends and families from the sidelines. After realising the race’s potential the organizers decided to increase its scope, and professional athletes were invited to the following year’s Damloop; creating an international sporting event.
The race’s main course hasn’t changed since 1985 and thousands of spectators continue to attend. The course begins outside of Amsterdam’s central station and then makes its way through the Ijtunnel. This leg of the race is notoriously difficult as the tunnel slopes downwards and then rises into a steep incline. Exiting the Ijtunnel, the runners trail through Amsterdam-Noord and eventually leave the city continuing towards Zaandam.
Since 1986 many famous runners have competed in the Damloop and its list of winners include Fernando Mamede, Hellen Kimaiyo, and Moses Masai. Renowned Dutch athlete Carla Beurskens was a major competitor during Damloop’s early days and won the race three times over the course of five years.
While professional runners lead the race most participants are amateurs. Anyone can register to enter Dam tot Damloop and its organizers encourage people to race for charity. Novice runners can also participate taking on a shorter version of the run that travels across Zaandam.
The race can be watched from many places throughout Amsterdam and Zaandam with most people flocking to the Dam tot Damloop’s starting and finishing lines.