Cactus Classic Marathon
Oro Valley, AZ - Nov. 7, 2004     T   P   R   S  
San Diego Street Elite

The eighth annual Cactus Classic Marathon was held on Sunday, November 7, 2004 in Oro Valley, a growing suburban community north of Tucson. It was mostly cloudy and unseasonably mild, with temperatures already in the 60s for the 7:00am start. Only around 90 skaters competed, less than half of last year.

The 2004 course was changed to be friendlier towards less advanced skaters. It was four laps on a less hilly and smoother route. From the start/finish line, skaters proceeded on a slight uphill. Then the course went on a long, but gradual, downhill. The faster speeds made the slightly rough pavement not as unpleasant. A right turn and skaters went on the smoothest section of the course with a tailwind. Finally, the course wound its way on a long, but gradual, winding uphill climb to the finish line.

The Cactus Classic began with a mass start again. This year's start was at a moderate pace. The lead pack stayed together for the first lap with no significant breakaway attempts. However, at the start of the second lap, Jordan Nelson (Bont), Norm Kirby (Bont), and Ryan Chrisler attacked on the long uphill climb. This broke the skaters apart, with many of the Masters forming a chase pack. On the long downhill descent the gap simply increased until the lead skaters were no longer in sight of the chase pack.

It came down to the final sprint for the lead pack. The Bont duo was able to hold off Ryan Chrisler for the top two podium spots with Jordan Nelson finish first and Norm Kirby second, all in a time of 1:11. The chase pack came in three minutes later. Norm Kirby was the Masters champion.

There were very few Pro and Pro Masters Women. The top of each division skated in the same pack intermixed with the men. At the very end, Stacey Eldridge (Bont) came out victorious in the Pro division at 1:23 and Conny Strub (Bont) for the Pro Masters. Looks like Bont won all the Pro categories.

In the Open division, fewer skaters meant staying with a pack was very important. The top ten men came in together at 1:22 and the top woman in 1:31.

SDSE had a good showing once again. Carl Yee and Linus Harth finished first and second in their age division. Gregg Hedlund also finished second, Bob Minami had a third-place showing. I finished fifth among the Pros. Also competing were Michael Leventhal and Cyndi Matsuda. Congratulations to all skaters.

The Cactus Classic is a very well organized, grass-roots race. Unfortunately, it is also experiencing the financial difficulties that many events are suffering from nowadays. Dwindling sponsorship support combined with fewer participants makes next year's race questionable. Each race in event's eight-year history show the organizers' dedication to the sport. They are hopeful that they can raise enough moeny for next year's event, for it would be a shame to lose this race.


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