A few years ago I was present at the farewell party of my primary school friend Jan de Kroon. He had sold his flower bulb company on Kamperzandweg in Ens. For political and economic reasons, he and his family decided to move to Canada. He thus followed in the footsteps of his brother-in-law and sister. Around the turn of the millennium they had already left for North America to give a new and above all greater impulse to their farming life.
In the early eighties I was a member of the ice cream club in my hometown and my hometown of Ens at the time. Jan de Kroon's sympathetic brother-in-law was involved in the locally popular club in those years. In those years he made preparations, together with Jannette - Jan de Kroon's eldest sister - to set up his farm, close to his birthplace Sint Jansklooster. In his spare hours, our modest, down-to-earth and hard-working fellow townsman worked steadily on his marathon career on the ice. He sometimes put these experiences into practice by teaching young people from Ensen with a talent for skating the intricacies on winter Friday evenings.
Every year our ice club organized a skating evening a few times. This was always held on the ice of the then uncovered Thialf in Heerenveen. I was happy to be there, not least because the 45 kilometers from Ens to Heerenveen were covered by car, vice versa. I was especially looking forward to a ride in a different car than my parents'. The Peugeot 304, the Volvo 244 GL or the BMW 1502 of the parents of a boyfriend or girlfriend then had a lot of appeal. Just like the Acadiane of the man who at that time put in a lot of effort to make the step to the premier league in marathon land.
Special interest in Acadiane
Anno 1981 we had two at home Citroëns: a GSX and a 2CV4. The French brand with the double Chevron was therefore in particular respect for me. For that reason too, I was extremely interested in the Acadiane of the promising marathon skater. That's why I wanted to get in with him for the ride to Heerenveen. And it did.
"He's just talking about cars"
On the way to Thialf I asked the driver of the French orderer many questions. However, these hardly concerned the noble skating sport. As a starting teenager I mainly wanted to know mine about the loading capacity of the Citroën. About “not sag when it was full”. About the power of the 602 cc engine. I was curious if the modest power source was also able to get a heavily loaded Acadiane forward. My later childhood hero - while laughingly concluded that the questioner “just kept talking about cars” - answered. He did so in the resolute way in which he later achieved final fame as a skater. “To get anywhere you just have to work very hard and be serious. Do what you came into the world for. Then you will get there. And that's why the Acadiane ends up everywhere. ”
Four years later, those words were unambiguously realized. Evert van Benthem won his first Elfstedentocht on 21 February 1985.