El Dorado Challenge #1
Long Beach, CA - April 29, 2001     T   R   S  
San Diego Street Elite

The inaugural El Dorado Challenge took place Sunday 4/29 at a El Dorado Park in Long Beach. This was to be the first of four in a series of races put together by Steve Blair, a local speedskater. A nice turnout of 60 skaters lined up for the early 7:00am start. Surprisingly it was warm due to the overnight clouds, with temperatures around 60 degrees and no wind.

The course follows the loop road on one half of the park which was completely closed to traffic for the event. The pavement was mostly smooth with a few short rough spots. Each loop was 1.75 miles, 7 laps totalled 12.25 miles.

The start was fast. Very fast. The numerous pro skaters, especially Joey Flesher (Verducci) and Julie Glass (Verducci), kept the pace high. After the second lap the lead pack had thinned out to about 15 skaters. At this point things slowed down to a reasonable pace as the breaks ended and everybody rested. In fact, nobody really felt like pulling, so we proceeded at a relaxing pace for a few laps.

The officials rang then bell on the fourth or fifth lap to indicate a prem lap. Did this speed things up? Nope. Until the final turn heading towards the start/finish line. Joey Flesher and Troy Atwell (Hyper) took a bite at the bait and sprinted for the prem. Our pack chased them down fast, but not until after Joey had won the prem. Julie Glass took the prem for the women while fellow teammate Peggy Girgenti rested in the pack.

The pace remained high after that to the finish. No breaks were attempted, so it was our lead pack all together for the big sprint to the line. Joey Flesher took the win ahead of Troy Atwell in second and Scott Wolf, third. I came in tenth in that pack. Julie Glass won the women's class with Peggy Girgenti finishing in the same pack. Helle Carlsen came in third in the next pack.

Congratulations the other SDSE members at this race, including Joe Prescott, Brandon Thorsten, and AJ Comer. AJ finished second in her age group and sixth overall. Additionally, Steve Blair announced that the El Dorado races will be a points series. So AJ picked up 5 points and I earned 2 points for our top 10 finishes.

This was a great race that went on without a hitch. Hats off to Steve Blair for organizing the whole event. It was fully run by volunteers and included a very generous prize raffle at the end. In a time when we seem to be losing a lot our races, Steve took the initiative to produce one for the local skaters. Great job. See you at the next event, Sunday 5/20.


The first of 4 El Dorado races was a great time for all. The race was right up the coast in Long Beach so Howard, Brandon and I made the trip up there on Saturday so we could be rested for the early morning start. Brandon and I stayed at AJ's place so we would only have a 10 minute drive in the morning.

Early Saturday evening we were called by Steve to help prepare the course. We went over to the park and did some final grooming with push brooms and prepared the Start/Finish line. The Park Rangers were very friendly as they would drive up and stop for a moment to chat about the race. Several of the Phoenix Predators made the trip out and we met up with them for dinner.

The morning of the race found us with perfect racing weather. The course was completely dry and the temperature was perfect as many of the skaters were warming up on the course.

The 7 lap race was scheduled to start at 7:00am and sure enough it did. Not wanting to be a pest, I staged right behind the Verducci women. They would easily have mowed me over had I been in front of them. The race started at a very fast pace. I was in full sprint mode from the start and was able to stay towards the front for only a very short time. I take a few miles to warm up and this pace was burning me out fast. I was hoping that this was just the short initial pace to break up the pack but it kept up long after I decided to bail out. I broke off my attempt to stay in the first pack when I dove to the side and let the line pass. That was the last I saw of Howard through the race.

The next pace line came by and I jumped on it. They were pushing hard and I got no relief. I again faded to the rear and then faded some more. I looked behind and saw Brandon alone trying to bridge up to me. I rested a little while Brandon was catching up. The two of us, out in no-mans land, started working and picked up the pace. There was a large pace line slowly gaining on us and we knew the inevitable. We were soon assimilated by the pack and the pack was now stronger.

I rested a little while rotation put me closer and closer to the front of the pack. We were picking up more skaters than we were loosing and getting stronger all of the time. I was feeling good as my turns came to pull. The last couple of laps saw only a handful of skaters in the rotation this may have been their strategy or just exhaustion. The last leg of the last lap found me out in front pulling, This was not really where I wanted to be just before the finish sprint, but what the heck someone has to be there. I was waiting for it to happen, not pulling too hard and still not wanting to force people to go around me.

It happened in a flash...with perfect timing he was just a green blur sprinting from the back of the pack. Chris Adams was at full speed when he passed me at the front and kept going. For a split second I just watched (and learned) as he flew past. I knew that there were many strong skaters behind me already starting their sprint and my hesitation only hurt my chances, so I started my sprint with all of the energy that I had left. There was only one left turn and a short up hill to the finish. I got in to the corner still ahead of everyone and did my best crossovers to gain speed up the hill. I could hear everyone behind me but still they hadn't caught up to me and the finish line was just ahead. Right before the finish line I could feel my energy giving out and suddenly, Chris Hansen from Phoenix was right there next to me. He does a huge hawk at the line to beat me but then looses his balance and, like a hawk, swoops right into me and nearly pushes me onto the grass. We all made it out alive and had a fantastic time. My finish time was about 36:10 but no official times were kept. I finished 16th overall.

After the race I had Steve look at the video finish to see if Chris had really got me at the line, it was hard to tell while racing. Yes he had beat me by nearly 12 inches, oh well. Howard and AJ both got points for being in the top 10. Brandon finished just behind me.

Every one who registered for the race was entered into the raffle. Steve had gotten several sponsors to donate some great stuff. There were many shirts and hats and things to give away. There were a few big prizes in the raffle too. Verducci donated a new set of frames, Mogema donated a new set of clap frames, and the biggest prize was a new set of Rollerblade racing skates donated by Dan Joyce of "Pointe West inc." Almost everyone wanted to win the Mogema clap frames and I was no exception. Steve had put all of the names back into the hat for the 3 big drawings. When they pulled the name out of the hat for the Rollerblade speedskates they called "Joey Prescott"... I was thinking that I hadn't seen him there... but wait... maybe they read it wrong... Yes it was me that won the skates... Very cool!!! They will make great beginning speedskates for someone on the team...

Steve did a great job putting this race together and the sponsors made everyone a winner... I hope to see many more skaters at the next El Dorado race.

Joe Prescott

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