Cactus Classic
Oro Valley, AZ - Nov. 3, 2002     T   P   R   S  
San Diego Street Elite

The sixth annual Cactus Classic was held on Sunday, November 4, 2002 in Oro Valley, a suburban community north of Tucson. Although it was cloudy, seasonal temperatures in the 60s with light to calm winds made for comfortable racing conditions. Over 100 skaters lined up for the 7:00am start.

The same scenic 26.2-mile course in the foothills of the nearby mountains was three laps of an 8-mile loop. From the start/finish line, skaters immediately headed up a long, but gradual hill. After reaching the top, the course proceed on a long, but gradual downhill, parts which were on a closed lane of a main highway. After reaching the bottom, there was a moderate uphill sprint to the finish.

Competition gets tougher every year as attendance continues to grow. From the start the lead pack skated at a moderate, but not too fast, pace uphill. However, at every downhill opportunity, a sprint ensued go as fast as possible, especially on Oracle Road where skaters tried to pass slow-moving vehicles on the highway.

For most of the race, the lead pack kept together, but skaters dropped off one by one. Towards the end of the last lap, the pack was about half its size. In the final sprint on the gruelling uphill, Jordan Nelson beat Randy Bowman, second, and John Howe, third, for the victory.

The lead women all skated in the one pack for most of the race. Of course, all bets were off as the end of the race approached. Conny Strub managed to get away from the rest of the women for the win. Stacey Eldridge edged out Georgina Granados in a pack sprint to take second place.

As usual, SDSE had a strong showing at the marathon, with more members than any other club from out of state. Congratulations to AJ Comer and Ivan Lebedev for placing second in their age division.

The Cactus Classic has grown every year and continues to receive excellent support from the local law enforcement, fire department, and volunteers. Generous sponsors contributed to the huge raffle at the post-race expo. Overall a fun experience, and we look forward to next year's event.


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