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Peter Dejong, Associated Press
Two skater pass the reformed church in Woudsend, northern Netherlands, Wednesday Feb. 8, 2012. Dutch troops are joining a race against time to prepare ice for a legendary 125-mile (200 kilometer) race across frozen waterways in the northern Netherlands that could be staged for the first time in 15 years. Defense Ministry spokesman Peter Grotens says a group of 50 soldiers is shoveling snow along a possible alternative route in case ice on part of the traditional track of the Elfstedentocht, or 11 Cities Tour, is too weak to support the 16,000 skaters who would take part if organizers stage the race.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Organizers in the Netherlands say it is still too early to decide if a 125-mile (200-kilometer) skating marathon across frozen waterways can be staged for the first time in 15 years.

Members of the Frisian Eleven Cities Association met Wednesday night to discuss the state of the ice along the route that is made up of frozen canals, rivers and lakes in the northern province of Friesland.

Association chairman Wiebe Wieling told a nationally televised news conference "We can't let the tour go ahead at the moment."

The association says it needs ice six inches (15 centimeters) thick over the entire track before they can give the green light.

The Elfstedentocht, or Eleven Cities Tour, was last staged in 1997.