Northshore Marathon
Duluth, MN - Sept. 18, 2004     T   S  
San Diego Street Elite

I'd heard good things about the Northshore In-Line Marathon and decided to enter this year for the first time. I didn't really get the full experience though because I arrived late and came home early. Gregg Hedlund was the other SDSE representative, and we both raced in the "Advanced 1" category. Gregg wore his trusty Rollerblade "Racerblade"s (former rental skates), and I wore my $30 used Rollerblade "Slalomblades". We had new wheels and fast bearings as well.

It was chilly and gray when we boarded the busses At about 6:00 am for the start line. It warmed up a little but remained pretty cold by San Diego standards during the race, probably in the low 50's. I skated without arm warmers but kept the leg warmers on. There wasn't much wind.

This is a huge event by American in-line racing standards, so the racers start in waves, generally a few minutes apart. The first to start were waves of world cup and elite men, then world cup and elite women. Advanced men 1 finishers was wave 6 out of 17. There were 260 advanced men.

When our Advanced 1 group advanced to the line, I saw our sponsor Glenn Koshi of Bont and Bob and Susan Hirsch not far past the chip-timing mat, ready to take photos. I had seen them Friday night at the massive Expo, where business appeared to be good.

The pace off the line was brisk, but not a full sprint. I had been warned by Rodney, Howard, and Gregg to stay near the front at certain points during the race, and it seemed much safer near the front. There were several crashes throughout the race as skaters because entangled in the large pack of triple pacelines, or hit tar strips and potholes. Staying upright became a priority for me.

Typical of the advanced pack in a marathon, nobody was strong or organized enough to break from the field, so we stayed in a very large group mile after mile. The scenery was great, but I didn't dare look. There was a little too much grabbing of my water bottle and wrist guards for comfort. We caught and passed the pro women's pack as they play games of surge and re-group. We tried not to interfere with their race but it wasn't always easy to stay out of each other's' way. A couple pro women finished at the same time as the first advanced men. We also passed a few pro men along the way.

Near the end of the race we skated on I-35 and through a tunnel. I was generally second and Gregg was not far behind. We were trying to stay out of trouble, because at this point the lead pack was still very large (87 people!)

When we exited the highway there was not far to go to the finish, and one guy took off and gapped the pack while we chased and sprinted ourselves. I drafted the second place skater for a couple hundred meters, then went around him into second myself. But with about 150 meters to go there was a left hand turn which I took too wide to avoid some cracks, and Gregg and 2-3 others blew by me.

But it turns out that lead guy must have been one of the pro's we caught. The winner of the Advanced division was our own GREGG HEDLUND in 1:18:02. I took 4th in 1:18:03. We both won our age divisions, and Gregg said we got medals and skate bags (I flew home Saturday before the 5:00 pm awards ceremony).


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