2002 Northshore Inline Marathon

September 14, 2002
Thanks to Bill Biederman and Heidi Goldwater for the use of their photographs on this page.


Story Pictures
A Mob Action in Duluth

Skating Duluth's Northshore Inline Marathon is many things, challenging, rewarding - certainly if you place in your age group; educational, and as I found out this year, fiercely competitive. So competitive that I lost all track of pacing and form, being carried along on adrenaline until my body crashed, but the ride sure was fun while it lasted.

I admit to being apprehensive as I skated up to the starting line, this year moving into Advanced from Fitness. My what a difference a bib number makes; with our start still a half hour away the jostling for position was fierce. Just to stand and talk with fellow Team Rainbo members Herman Boehm and Tom Grosspietsch required the judicious use of both elbow and knee. I started to worry, how would that first 50 yards look when over 300 competitors in my wave are all trying to get off to a skating start? When there's simply not room enough to stand how do you skate?

Our time came, the horn blew and as I expected, chaos was unleashed. Not fifteen steps into the race a skater tripped and fell to my left, then another on the right. And where was I? Right in the middle of the street, on top of a mile-long skate-eating rubber snake, time to move either right or left. I quickly learned that hand signals wouldn't get the job done; it was going to be, make-a-move-or-lose-the-chance. I moved left.

Over the first mile or two you couldn't call what we were a pace line, more like a pace mob. Silly me, worrying about the first 50 yards, the first twelve miles were characterized by almost the entire field of Advanced men, skating one on top of another. All of us just looking for a bit of open pavement, not to mention pulling quick hockey moves to avoid the flying bodies of skaters every 30-40 seconds; legs up in the air, arm flailing, racers scattering and tumbling into ditches.

Eventually we organize, into three long pace lines, with skaters taking fliers between the lines and on each shoulder. Just as this pattern is jelling, a skater shoots through all three lines, at a 90-degree angle to the road, ON ONE SKATE! He takes two skaters out crossing traffic. The pace lines take another mile to stabilize.

At the 11-mile mark I'm still with the lead pack, but I'm not getting my full extension, let alone getting in a good double push. Later Brad Hedges, another Team Rainbo member, told me we covered 11 miles in 29 minutes. I had planned to push for a 19/19.5 mph pace and here I'm cruising along at over 22, soon I'm going to have to look for a tail wind or pull up a bit. But the mob has me in its grip, with so little room, it's close to impossible to move out of line to begin falling back. This mob action also keeps me from noticing that several people are beginning to take a more sensible approach to this whole 26.2-mile thing and are beginning to fall back.

At some point I find an opening and pull out, letting the lead pack skate past me, hoping to find another group close behind. Unfortunately, I am hung out to dry in the 12mph headwind for a mile before wiser, saner skaters began to overtake me. I stay with each line as best I can, but I am spent. My quads begin to cramp, and while I'm looking, I'm not finding the spirit or willpower to keep up, let alone pull. After a mile or less with each group I'm dropped and on my own again.

I limp along alone into the headwind almost up to Lemon Drop Hill, where I hear that unmistakable buzz coming from behind. Here come the Advanced women, eating up the road, very motivating. Next come the lead Fitness men, closing on the woman and then another group of woman. If there was ever a time I needed and got motivation this is it. I take the hill passing a skater; the first one I've passed since being dropped, and head down the ramp, grabbing a skater that I barely overtake, I make him keep up. Amazing how folks will listen to a perfect stranger when they're totally exhausted. He's a good choice and is able to pull for a stretch down I35. I then take us through the tunnel and up the ramp, where Eddy Matzger, skating back up the course, is cheering on the skaters.

I tell my companion not to burn out on the ramp because we have to come around the DECC skating like winners. No way am I going to limp around to the finish. So we tuck down the hill, and come around the DECC, there my mind sees the shortest path through that first hard left as one easy crossover. Trouble is, as I execute the crossover my right leg says, "Oh no buddy, I've had it", and starts to crumple. I have no idea how I get my left foot back on the ground, but I do know that I can't repeat here what I yelled out loud. I do know however that mothers were covering their children's ears as I went by.

Yes, I skated in like a winner, just not with a winning time. But as I keep telling myself on the ride home, who really cares about time in Duluth; when everybody knows it's just a warm up for A2A?

Traveling companion, John Silker getting the bobarazzi treatment.
Traveling companion, John Silker getting the bobarazzi treatment.
Christy, Judy and Daryl at the Expo
Christy, Judy and Daryl at the Expo
Two record holders for two very different events Eddy Matzger and John Silker.
Two record holders for two very different events Eddy Matzger and John Silker.
Eddy checks Julie out, or is that the other way around?
Eddy checks Julie out, or is that the other way around?
From Athens, GA, Ann and Brendan make it to MN. Nice colors Ms B.
From Athens, GA, Ann and Brendan make it to MN. Nice colors Ms B.

"The piece of skate lace I used must have been at least this long " At dinner with Team Rainbo; Cale retells the story of the flying shelving unit.
Race morning and Jim fuels up for the sprint into Duluth.
Race morning and Jim fuels up for the sprint into Duluth.
Brad showing his shyer self, maybe he just forgot to brush his teeth.
Brad showing his shyer self, maybe he just forgot to brush his teeth.
Sitting down before the job is unidentified team member and Greg. Hey if there are chairs provided, use them.
Sitting down before the job is unidentified team member and Greg. Hey if there are chairs provided, use them.
Carmi, the Bobarazzi and Tom, all smiles before lining up to race.
Carmi, the Bobarazzi and Tom, all smiles before lining up to race.
The Herminator and other Rainbo racers gather at the starting line.
The Herminator and other Rainbo racers gather at the starting line.
Jeff and the bobarazzi.
Jeff and the bobarazzi.
Tom being accustomed to my taking his picture looks relaxed.
Tom being accustomed to my taking his picture looks relaxed.
Enough pictures already.
Enough pictures already.
At times it can get a bit too crowded at the starting line.
At times it can get a bit too crowded at the starting line.
For much of the first mile or two I was caught in the middle of the road, skating over this never-ending rubber snake.
For much of the first mile or two I was caught in the middle of the road, skating over this never-ending rubber snake.
Though this is a photo of Bill's from the fitness category, I saw many a wipe out in advanced (Read the Story.)
Though this is a photo of Bill's from the fitness category, I saw many a wipe out in advanced (Read the Story.)
More wipeouts.
More wipeouts.
The early road as I was not able to experience it; wide open.
The early road as I was not able to experience it; wide open.
Where you wondering how much headwind there was while you were skating? Enough to knock down the finish line scaffolding. I talked to a woman who went though the line eight seconds before it collapsed. Luckily racers were still able to get under it to register a finishing time.
Where you wondering how much headwind there was while you were skating? Enough to knock down the finish line scaffolding. I talked to a woman who went though the line eight seconds before it collapsed. Luckily racers were still able to get under it to register a finishing time.
Race leaders at the finish line on the Sports page in the local paper.
Race leaders at the finish line on the Sports page in the local paper.
Eddy after his race skating back up the course to encourage and photograph the later waves of skaters.
Eddy after his race skating back up the course to encourage and photograph the later waves of skaters.
Saturday evening festivities, Heidi and the bobarazzi.
Saturday evening festivities, Heidi and the bobarazzi.
Part of the downtown Chicago group, Tom, Heidi, Julie and yours truly.
Part of the downtown Chicago group, Tom, Heidi, Julie and yours truly.




Copyright 2002 Bob "Bobarrazi" Ryan