Big Granite Marathon
On the Road— Ashland, WISaturday, June 19, 2004
Seven miles from the finish of Wisconsin's fourth Big Granite Marathon, Randy Bowman of team PyroApparel was sliding face-first through the gravel and weeds of the Upland foothills while the front group disappeared over the crest of the course's main descent. Seven miles later he was still spitting dirt but smiling, having chased and caught, recovered and jumped clear with two hundred yards of race left. Truly a worthy winner of one of the most skater-friendly events on the calendar, the twenty-one-year-old from Ohio took home a nice trophy and some vindication, having finished ninth and fifth on previous attempts.
Lake Superior, this Duluth spin-off is a fine race in its own right. Nowhere in the country have I seen a crew out grooming the ENTIRE COURSE the day before. Results are prompt and accurate, traffic control superb, the terrain challenging and the fields top quality for a regional event.
This year's mens pro start list included past winners Jeff Terwilliger (Bodyglide) and Tone Coughlin (Bont), perrenial top-three Matt Robinson (Fast Forward), the usual strong contingent from Flanders, two Bont teams, Rainbow, and three from PyroApparel including the eventual winner. Conspicuous in his absence from the field was Terry Holm who served as technical director.
A quality pair of newcomers in Dennis Humphreys and Bob Tyson (Dimon)from New York added to the anticipation of a fine competition.
It was COLD, around forty degrees at the start, quite a change from previous years' summer weather. Bonus- no black flies! It was WINDY, which made for a slow start and technical finish. But the sun was out, and all in all a good day for racing.
In the first of the two laps previous winner Coughlin forced the pace, often dangling fifty yards off the front of the field. He and the mile-and-a-half climb whittled the front group to about twenty-five of the 171 starters.
Second time up the hill Bowman attacked hard and the group nearly splintered on the steep opening ramp. Finally he stood up, and some regrouping took place. At the pause, Matt Robinson fresh from his win at Elkhart rolled off the front and was joined by Alan Marcosson (PyroApparel) and two others. They strung it out again but couldn't quite get clear. Nobody had the stuff to attack on the last steep stretch at the top. It was starting to look like a bunch sprint of about fifteen at eight miles to go.
Non-sprinter Marcosson rolled off the front and put his head down. With a strong tailwind and a little blocking from Bowman, he opened up a hundred-yard lead. For a while it looked interesting, but the Bonts wised up, went to the lead and hammered. The Pyro man was caught on a sweeping left hand curve high overlooking the start-finish area. The group slowed, spread out, and Bowman went into the ditch. Nobody attacked; really... on the ensuing descent they were all pretty much at terminal velocity! Somehow Bowman caught up despite multiple factors including the fact that the pack had such a head start before cresting the big hill that late in the race; bruised ribs and abrasions; and most importantly the greater mass to surface area of the lead pack relative to Bowmans mass to surface area when bombing the hill which leads to greater speeds.
Six more miles, mostly flat; fatigue and the stiff wind the only real factors. A good deal of feinting, a little pushing, skates clicking here and there... A couple real wind-ups on the headwind finishing straight, and then just when it looked like a real mass mess in the making, Marcosson went up the left side of the road in a determined attempt to string things out and launch his team-mate. The same tactic in 2003 had proved too early and too feeble, but this time the pair from Ohio got it right.
Cactus Classic, Texas Road Rash and now Big Granite.
Pro/Adv - Open Male Time
Bowman, Randy Cuyahoga Falls, OH 1:17:09.5
Coughlin, Tone Duluth, MN 1:17:11.3
Terwillger, Jeff Edina, MN 1:17:11.5
Farnsworth, Mark Raleigh, NC 1:17:11.6
Peterson, Thomas St. Paul, MN 1:17:11.7
Pro/Adv - Open Female
Peterson, Kara St. paul, MN 1:24:40.5
Eldridge, Stacey Jacksonville 1:31:26.4
Hudson, Kendra Raleigh, NC 1:31:31.2
Pro/Adv - Masters Male
Robinson, Matt Madison, WI 1:17:11.0
King, Todd Minneapolis, MN 1:17:11.2
Zaker, Dan Orland Park, IL 1:17:11.7
Plett, Randy Winnipeg, MAN, CAN 1:17:12.0
Bartz, Dave Hayward, WI 1:17:12.5
Pro/Adv - Masters Female
Ariagno, Margo Northfield, IL 1:34:11.1
Smith, Karen Woodbury, MN 1:46:24.9
Pro/Adv - Veteran Male 26 Division Field:
Humphrey, Dennis Albany, NY 1:17:11.5
Scheer, Fred Hayward, WI 1:17:15.0
Marcoson, Alan Cleveland, OH 1:17:37.9
Cavell, Cale Northfield, IL 1:19:26.4
Major, Greg Chicago, IL 1:21:36.7
Pro/Adv - Veteran Female 2 Division Field:
Heagerty, Vicki St. Louis Park, MN 1:27:25.6
Backman, Sue Minneapolis, MN 1:34:18.5
For complete results go to: http://www.itiming.com/media/biggranite04/big_granite_div04.pdf
by Miguel Jordan, M.D. and Alan Marcosson
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