Orlando— Orlando, FLSunday, April 10, 2005
The second major inline marathon of the 2005 season was in Orlando. The Orlando Marathon was a great race in what has become a hotbed of inline racing. The growth of the sport comes from a number of factors including the great weather, strong tool of local talent, and the support of a very professional event management company.
Buttar is an event management company that runs cycling, triathlon, and running events. Last year they started running inline skate events. With their experience and professionalism they run the most organized inline events I have ever attended. The staff is wonderful with great announcing, electronic chip timing, great food, drinks, and course management.
The new course was great. Zahid and Kimberly Buttar secured a course that provided everything a skater needed to have a great race. The traffic control was 100% with no worries about cars or pedestrians entering the race course. The turns were "skater friendly" left handers, the pavement was mostly smooth with a short and enjoyable Gatorback section that helped everyone enjoy the rest of the course even more. I personally like courses with laps so that I can keep track of my pace, effort, and enjoy the process of learning the course. Since we had a good number of laps by the time the race ended I felt that I had a good understanding of the course and could setup well for the sprint.
The race was well attended with a number of top pros. Hernan Diaz and Edgar Mesa are both top Colombian skate racers who now live in nearby Tampa, FL Hernan is sponsored by Team Simmons and was skating on a great looking Simmons boot with a long mount 4x100 frame. Mark Farnsworth of Team Gatorback Skate was representing his new company with a version of his patent pending braking system. Team Bont was represented by Stacey Eldridge skating in Bont boots with the 5x84 Sniper frame. Local Florida company TRU REV was represented with Lenny Willcox skating on the 4x88 frame.
The race started with Lenny Willcox leading a lot of the early miles and keeping a high pace. About three miles into the race Mark Farnsworth attacked hard to test the legs and see if he could provoke a response. Mark spent about two miles off the front before the group closed the gap. The counterattack came from Edgar Mesa. Edgar attacked hard as the course hit the Gatorback section and by the next mile he had created a 30 second gap over Mark who was in "no mans land" between the pack and Edgar's break. After a few more miles of strong chasing from Douglas Szycher, Lenny Willcox, and Hernan Diaz the pack caught Mark while Edgar proceeded to lap everyone.
In the middle part of the race the lead pack was five men. Edgar was in the lead pack but he was actually a lap ahead due to his early attack. It was clear that the sprint for second place would come from this group.
Edgar took the win. On the next lap, the other four skaters contested the sprint for second place. Douglas took the charge early. Mark and Lenny took up position and got ready for the final jump. With about 350m to go Edgar Mesa came around the leaders with Hernan Diaz. Hernan's excellent sprint resulted in a strong second place finish while Mark held off Douglas and Lenny in to get the last step on the podium.
Gatorback skate provided prize money for the top three finishers in the event.
The women's race had a close finish with Naomi Shechter and Stacey Eldridge sprinting to the line. The result was close with Naomi finding just enough to to get a wheel out in front and take the win.
After the race Gatorback skate provided an interesting skater vs. cyclist challenge. Mark Farnsworth and a local bike racer demonstrated the stopping capabilities of the Gatorback braking system. The contest was set up as a stop from 25mph to see who could stop faster. Mark and the cyclist sprinted to the stop zone and then gave it their best effort. The result was close with the cyclist barely beating Mark. The stopping forces were such that the cyclist skidded the rear bike tire to the point of damage. Since the Gatorback braking system does not use any braking wheels there was no damage to Mark's wheels or equipment.
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