|Fire in the Sky Marathon|
Moorea, Tahiti - Feb. 21, 2000
The following morning we were awakened early by the roosters who start
their wake up calls at the crack of dawn. This left us with plenty of
time before the start of the race which began in front of our grass huts
at Moorea Village. It was a beautiful sunny day without rain.... (last
year it poured during the race which made the surface very slick and
difficult to skate on). Initially there was slight confusion on exactly
where the race should begin -- half and full marathon where supposed to
start in different locations, but in the end we all started together
from the same start line. As soon as the race started all went off
without a hitch.
The course was laid out along the smoothest parts of
the road and included 3 U-turns. Although it was hot and humid, I felt
great and was able to stick with the lead pack which in the beginning
consisted of Eddy, Dan Burger, Mark Fitzsimmons (Skate Pro), Tom Ashton,
Mike Miller, Tom Keane, Caroline Jean (French National Team) a few
others and myself. Shortly after the start, of course Eddy and Dan took
off after having taken some film footage and were only seen coming from
the opposite direction when we approached the U-turns. At this time our
pack consisted of Mark, Mike, Caroline, Tom A., Tom K. and myself. Then
Mark decided it was time for a break as he was determined to finish 3rd
behind Eddy and Dan. He took off and was never to be caught again. Now
there were only 5 of us left and we worked together throughout the race.
As we approached the finish line, Tom K. took off, followed closely by
Tom A. I then decided to try a sprint for the finish and actually was
in front briefly before getting out sprinted by Caroline. I finished
closely behind her in 2nd place (women) and 7th overall. Mike Miller
finished closely behind us. Five minutes passed before the next skater
crossed the finish line which was Christopher Pierre, who despite a fall
still finished 1st in the advanced men. Following him closely was 12
year old Nicole Mathews (team Sonic) who took 3rd in the Pro-Women.
Immediately following her was AJ from Long Beach, who for the 2nd year
in a row claimed 1st in Advanced Women.
The race was very exciting and well organized. The conditions were
perfect and locals who lined the road along the way supporting and
encouraging us while handing out water bottles made it a wonderful
That evening we were invited to Tiki Village where the award ceremony
took place which was followed by an incredible fire and dance show.
Unlike last year, it was great to get the race out of the was so early
in the week, allowing us to then relax and really shift into Island
The following day we rented funny looking 3-wheelers (or as some prefer
to call them "death traps") -- I'm not kidding if you dared to take one
hand of the steering wheel you immediately found yourself in another
lane facing on coming traffic. Despite the danger factor, they were fun
and we even took them off-road to explore a water fall. Unfortunately,
our vehicles couldn't quite make it up the mountain and we were forced
to push them! We continued our cruise around the island and stopped
in a distillery of tropical liqueurs where they were more then generous
with their samplings....
The following day (Tuesday), we left Moorea to go to Raiatea. Another
beautiful island, more remote and less tourism then Moorea. Our
accommodations here were fabulous. The following morning we woke up to a
gigantic rain storm and a race was scheduled that afternoon. Fortunately
the race took place on the opposite side of the island where it was
completely dry, so the race was held as scheduled, although I personally
choose not to participate in this one. This race was a 15 mile, very
informal race/fun roll. No official timing was recorded. At the finish,
skaters were greeted by Tahitian dancers and a barbecue.
The following days were mostly sunny with occasional rain, and we kept
busy snorkeling, swimming and at night we usually gathered at someone's
bungalow for a group get together. As is becoming tradition... many
people returned home with new tattoos.
Tahiti '99 was fantastic and I really couldn't imagine that another trip
to paradise could match my previous experience. For this reason I had
felt somewhat reluctant about returning a 2nd time. I can now honestly
say that I'm very glad I returned, as Tahiti 2000 was even more
spectacular than I imagined possible!
An addendum to the Tahiti trip summary...
All SDSE members placed in the half marathon: Debbie Rangel
(1st overall advanced woman), Pat McCormick (2nd place age fitness), Cathy
McCormick (3rd place age fitness), Eric Rangel (top 3 age), and Bob
Hirsch (top 3 age). Congratulations to our members for an
outstanding performance at this international competition!