Duluth, MN - Sept. 18, 2004
It was chilly and gray when we boarded the busses At about 6:00 am for
the start line. It warmed up a little but remained pretty cold by San
Diego standards during the race, probably in the low 50's. I skated
without arm warmers but kept the leg warmers on. There wasn't much
This is a huge event by American in-line racing standards, so the racers
start in waves, generally a few minutes apart. The first to start were
waves of world cup and elite men, then world cup and elite women.
Advanced men 1 finishers was wave 6 out of 17. There were 260 advanced
When our Advanced 1 group advanced to the line, I saw our sponsor Glenn
Koshi of Bont and Bob and Susan Hirsch not far past the chip-timing mat,
ready to take photos. I had seen them Friday night at the massive Expo,
where business appeared to be good.
The pace off the line was brisk, but not a full sprint. I had been
warned by Rodney, Howard, and Gregg to stay near the front at certain
points during the race, and it seemed much safer near the front. There
were several crashes throughout the race as skaters because entangled in
the large pack of triple pacelines, or hit tar strips and potholes.
Staying upright became a priority for me.
Typical of the advanced pack in a marathon, nobody was strong or
organized enough to break from the field, so we stayed in a very large
group mile after mile. The scenery was great, but I didn't dare look.
There was a little too much grabbing of my water bottle and wrist guards
for comfort. We caught and passed the pro women's pack as they play
games of surge and re-group. We tried not to interfere with their race
but it wasn't always easy to stay out of each other's' way. A couple
pro women finished at the same time as the first advanced men. We also
passed a few pro men along the way.
Near the end of the race we skated on I-35 and through a tunnel. I was
generally second and Gregg was not far behind. We were trying to stay
out of trouble, because at this point the lead pack was still very large
When we exited the highway there was not far to go to the finish, and
one guy took off and gapped the pack while we chased and sprinted
ourselves. I drafted the second place skater for a couple hundred
meters, then went around him into second myself. But with about 150
meters to go there was a left hand turn which I took too wide to avoid
some cracks, and Gregg and 2-3 others blew by me.
But it turns out that lead guy must have been one of the pro's we
caught. The winner of the Advanced division was our own GREGG HEDLUND
in 1:18:02. I took 4th in 1:18:03. We both won our age divisions, and
Gregg said we got medals and skate bags (I flew home Saturday before the
5:00 pm awards ceremony).