Fire in the Sky Marathon
Moorea, Tahiti - Feb. 21, 2000     T   P   S  
San Diego Street Elite

What a wonderful experience! On Friday, February 18 we left LA to return to Tahiti where we arrived early that evening after an 8 hour flight. At the airport we were greeted by Hula dancers before getting on a ferry to the Island of Moorea. We arrived at our destination in Moorea around midnight. The following day we immediately went on a shark and stingray feeding excursion which was fabulous! We met some of the same locals we had gotten to know a year ago and of course they remembered us! That evening there was a pasta-carbo loading feast to prepare for the race the following morning. This was a nice opportunity to mingle with fellow skaters from all over, and re-connect with some familiar people we hadn't seen in some time. On our stroll back towards our grass huts we stopped for a scrumptious dessert where we were surprised by an amazing fire dance.

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 experience.

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 mode.

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!


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