|Cactus Classic Marathon
Oro Valley, AZ - Nov. 7, 2004
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
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
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
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.