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09/16/2003 Archived Entry: "NorthShore Inline Marathon (In Duluth MN) - September 13, 2003"

Our NorthShore Inline Marathon (In Duluth, Minnesota)
On Saturday - September 13, 2003
By Jenni X

Duluth, MN. - In spite of threats to the contrary, the weather for this year's Duluth Marathon was as good as one can expect: dry, 52 degrees - with some tailwind early, and changing to a full blown headwind at the finish. At 7:30 AM, there were 4,126 skaters lined up on a peaceful two-lane highway, which edges Lake Superior from Duluth to Two Harbors, Minnesota. The skaters were pacing back and forth, wishing they'd already taken care of peeing. We were all waiting for the start gun to free us of the merciless onslaught of cheerleading and bad jokes, lobbed to us by the event emcee. "The fog is at your back! Ignore the cowbells! It's all downhill ! Just 26 miles and change!"

We passed through a rain shower on the bus ride to the start area. A good number of the pro-skaters moaned and started digging out the rain gear, as the busís wipers kicked in. But fortunately, when we reached the starting area, and the doors opened, the ground was dry and the air smelt of clean port-a-potties and dewy grass. We were still fogged in to about 300 feet of visibility, when the starting horns began sending waves of hopefuls toward Duluth, but it cleared within five miles.

As you might expect, I can't tell you much about the ranks beyond Pro master women. But from what Iíve heard, it was the usual skate madness in the Advanced and Recreational divisions, though the Fitness group seemed to be sparsely attended. (If you want a relatively peaceful skate in the melee that Duluth can be, try for that next year.) The Advanced Men's group, who were queued up behind my group, reminded me of hungry hyenas - - cajoling and spitting. I made a mental note that we only had a four minute gap before they'd start cramping the undauntable style of our tiny (17 skaters) Masters/Veterans Ladies group (hey, sure that's right... we're "ladies").

The Pro Master/Veterans group was positively Mongol in it's girth. I roomed with my teammate (LA Speed Skate's) Scott S, who was whipped into shape and ready to rock. Unfortunately, he crashed while attempting to leap over the skater he was drafting, when that skater went down on a tar-snake. Scott got up, road-rashed from rump to shin, and took 11th place amid the hoard-ish men's Pro Masters/Veteran pack of over 64 skaters (47 masters and 17 veterans). These skaters finished within 20 seconds of each other (from 1:12:58 to 1:13:18). For anybody who might be mathematically challenged, thatís like four skaters per second crossing the finish line.

The Pro Master/Veterans group also contained some other familiar names to me. APRRís Miguel P (now living in New York) took 11th in Masters; Bruce B was 18th; and my pal (and sometimes training partner) Neal L, from Marina del Rey, took 28th. Anyway, they paid 10 deep in Men's Veterans and Neal took 11th. They paid the Women's Masters 5 deep, and I took 6th... Ain't life grand?

PS. The following is an in depth review of my personal take of the Duluth event at: Jenni's Take of Duluth

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