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Disney, what else need be said? That word alone brings up childhood dreams for many people. A race in Disney; that combination of words is enough to excite even the most detached people from the sport of roller speed skating- and for one gorgeous day on March 30th, 2003, there was a race in Disney land.
This trip, filled with the usual problems and issues that seem to plague my travels, included a wicked trip to the Kennedy Space Center- and Tatia and I actually saw real alligators. We also checked out the 'Spring Bling' in Daytona! Crazy stuff! Well, apart from accidentally mixing diesel in the rental car, things were smooth. The Chard and Parry families, my travel partner Tatia Wallace, Jordan Belchos, and I checked out the Magic Kingdom. The bathroom incident at the Red Lobster was funny- about 6 of us laughing about someone pretending to pee on someone else, and everyone started to shout. The trip was not complete without the missing the plane bit when going home!
Ok, well enough of that. Everybody knows I get into silly adventures, but everybody wants to know about the race, right? Right!
The skating expo was a who's who of the skating industry. It was nice seeing old friends like Henk Baars from Mogema, Doug Fessenden from Empire- he was promoting his marathon. Of course, the Hyper, Rollerblade, and Weber Sports booths were all well staffed. Of course, no trip is complete without seeing friends from the Toronto Inline Skating Club as well as people like Stephane Tremblay, Bob Tysen, Bont's Conny Strub. For a first time race, things seemed quite well organized. Eddy Matzger was giving a clinic/ talk to the crowds while young skaters skated on this huge portable skating surface.
Race day; up at 4:20am and on site at 5:15am. It was kind of scary to see that there was a huge traffic jam going into the race site at 5am! Skating during the warm up, it was a who's who again. With Hyper suits, Verducci Suits, Empire Speed Suits, Simmons Suits, it was easy to get the pre-race jitters.
Skaters were organized into the starting waves and sent to the start line. Earlier at the skating Expo, I was chatting with Northshore Inline Marathon's race director Chuck Olsen (I think that's how is name is spelled), and he told me that it was suggested that Disney cap the race at 1500 skaters so that they get the logistics of this first year race done properly. I was in the pro men's heat, and there was a ton of heat in this chilly morning. As the air thinned, skaters waited on the line until the 5-4-3-2-1 was given and the race was off. Teams immediately grouped up, with Hyper, Verducci, Empire Speed, and Rollerblade leading the pack. The pack thinned from 3 pace lines down to 1 long pace line as skaters negotiated the tight turns and narrow passages of the Disney course.
Unfortunately, I dropped out and skated with some of my clubmates because my shins aren't ready to handle pressure, but I watched pack after pack of skaters go by while I waited for some friends right by the big Epcot ball. I skated with a group that included Tatia Wallace, Wayne Burrett, Lanny Totton, and Bont's skater of the week Carolyn Gullo. I finished 21km and then set up my camera at the finish line.
The pro men's sprint was awesome. All I can say that I saw is a mess of arms, legs, and different skin suits charging towards the finish line. Out of the mess emerged Jordan Malone and Diego Rosero, who hawked for the line, and Hyper's Diego Rosero came up winner over Rollerblade's Jordan Malone by just over a wheel. I spoke with Empire Speed's Bret Whitman later that night when we were out at the club, and he said that he probably missed 3rd place because of where his chip was located on his skate.
The women's sprint was so exciting to watch. Just like the pro men's sprint, the pro women charged for the line in a mass of skates, legs, arms, and multi-coloured suits. Out of this mess emerged Hyper's Cecilia Baena, who raised her arms as she crossed the finish line, and in 2nd, about 1 body length behind, was Julie Glass. Wow, what a sprint.
The pro master men featured Simmons skaters Rodney Green and Norman Kirby cross the line in a dominating manner, quite a ways ahead of their nearest counterparts.
The award ceremonies were unfortunately cut-short by a storm, but the storm did not damper the events of the weekend. The marathon was extermely well run, with something for all skaters. Goodie bags included sets of bearings, there were skaters for all categories, the course was challenging and aesthetically appealing, the race and the expo was well supported by the industry. I would suggest to any skaters who has any interest in competing in this event in the future do so. This event is sure to become one of the marquee events of our sports- one that validates and supports what we do as athletes and skaters.
©Peter Doucet and www.RaceReports.net