Red and White chasing orange

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:06 AM ET

Take strategic elements of the Tour de France, toss in 400 metres of super-fast ice and sprinkle with thousands of fans dressed in orange.

Mix it all together and you have the inaugural ING world championship speed skating marathon at the Olympic Oval (today, 5:30 p.m.).

And it's being dubbed 'Holland Day.'

As fans are encouraged to wear orange, the Canadian team, featuring Calgary's Dustin Molicki, Ottawa's Jamie Ivey, Calgary's Macin Goszczynki and Moose Jaw's Neal Zalusky, is going to try keep the orange suits of the powerful Dutch in their sites.

With up to 100 athletes on the ice at one time, it's controlled chaos over the gruelling, 100-lap, 40-km race, Molicki said.

"The equivalent would be a hill-climb road race, like the Tour de France, when all the climbers get to the hill, they start watching each other and some guys go for it but it's very calculated," said the national long track team veteran.

For the Canadians, a marathon is a big jump from regular long track, where the emphasis, even over the longer distances, is on speed.

"We're not a marathon team and we're up against professional guys who have been doing it all season. We're trained in long track to go fast, so the only advantage we have is speed," said Molicki, adding its such a tough race, he's been unable to finish several marathons.

The fastest skaters will complete the marathon in about an hour.

With an estimated 40,000-50,000 Dutch-Canadians living in Calgary, Oval officials are hoping they'll come out and wear their national colours.

"Marathon racing is extremely popular in Europe and a number of Dutch competitors will be travelling to Calgary to compete," said Olympic Oval events manager Karrie Kreutz.


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