8:41 | Men's Race: Interviews with Powerslide's Jorge Botero and Simmons' Rob Bell
Given the shortened format of the race, Powerslide's Jorge Botero and Adams Inline's David Sarmiento didn't waste any time.
About two miles into the half marathon, the Colombians took off on a fast breakaway that caught the other skaters by surprise.
"I let the skaters get some speed at the beginning, and then when they slowed down a little, I went," said Botero, who makes his home in Orlando, FL.
Botero and Sarmiento were positioned in the back of the pack when they took off.
"By the time, they went by me," said Simmons' Rob Bell, "they were going five miles an hour faster and there was nothing I could do to catch them."
For a while, Bell, 25, of Oklahoma City, tried to catch up. But Botero and Sarmiento, working together and switching off the lead, eventually pulled away and built a lead of about half a mile.
A small chase pack of Bell, Alex Fedak and Paul Dyrud formed and began to narrow the gap. But the chase pack lost steam after it was swallowed back up by the main pack.
Eventually, Botero and Sarmiento arrived at the final downhill before the finish line about a minute ahead of the chase pack.
"We hadn't talked about who was going to win the sprint," said Botero, who is leading the 2009 National Roller Cup. "We decided we were going to have a clean sprint.
"I started the sprint. When I hit the downhill, I picked up the pace. David is a long distance skater, and he was very strong in the race. But I knew I had a better sprint."
Botero finished several yards ahead of Sarmiento in a time of 34 minutes and 53.6 seconds.
"The race wasn't easy for me," Botero said. "I pushed it hard."
He said he felt confident about Sunday's 10K at the Rose Oval in Roseville. "I grew up skating on banked tracks," he explained.
Rob Bell won the field sprint for third. He said the chase pack might have caught Botero and Sarmiento if the race had been longer. "In a full marathon, I don't know if they would have been able to stay away."
9:30 | Women's Race: Interview with Bont's Debbie Rice and Luigino's Peggy Girgenti
The pro women's race came down to a final sprint that pitted a world class teen against two seasoned veterans.
Shortly after the start of the race, a lead pack of about 15 skaters formed. The pack — that included Powerslide's Briana Kramer, Bont's Debbie Rice and Luigino's Peggy Girgenti — stayed together for most of the race.
"There were really no breakaways," said Debbie Rice, 41 of Tampa, FL. "Kara Peterson (Adam's Inline) tried once. ... You know how she always tries to break away up the hill. ... But we caught her and then she got dropped."
A 14-year-old girl from Wisconsin took a long pull near the end of the race, but eventually tired and faded back.
Going up the final hill, Sarah Hopkins tried to get around Debbie Rice but the two clicked skates and Hopkins went down.
Shortly before the finish line, Powerslide's Briana Kramer, a 17-year-old from Kissimmee, FL, took the lead and started her sprint. Girgenti and Rice gave chase. But couldn't catch her.
Kramer, who won last month's Chicagoland Inline Marathon, finished a few yards ahead of Girgenti with Rice a few more yard back.
"This was a fun race," said Peggy Girgenti. "Everyone was working together. There was nothing dirty. ... And for once, I beat Debbie in the sprint."
Rice said she liked the shorter format of this year's race. "It's crazy. We were just getting warmed up and it was over. It felt like a 10K."
8:41 | Powerslide Briana Kramer outsprints Luigino's Peggy Girgenti to win the women's division. Bont's Debbie Rice is right behind Girgenti. Tracy Yde is fourth.
8:35 | Luigino's Tony Muse wins the master's division. AloeUp's Herb Gayle is third. Then there's a big pile up.
8:38 | Second pack comes through ... finish is unclear because of chip problems. Fourth was Tyler McGinniss. (May have been Simmons' Rob Bell finishing third at the head of the chase pack.)
8:35 | Jorge Botero wins with David Sarmiento right behind him. "Jorge started the sprint and David was right behind him," says Thong Nguyen. "It was Jorge's race."
8:30 | At Mile 8, Powerslide's Jorge Botero and Adams Inline's David Sarmiento had a "huge, huge" lead. About a half a mile. "We were chasing those guys on a bike and we were going about 26, 27 mph and they were pulling away from us," said Thong Nguyen.
8:15 | All 750 skaters are away. So are the 600 runners. Everything going smoothly.
7:30 | Beautiful conditions for racing this morning in Saint Paul — 72 degrees and partly sunny. More than 700 skaters getting ready to roll in the fifth race of the 2009 National Roller Cup.
NROC leader Jorge Botero (Powerslide) arrived in St. Paul yesterday. Teammate Briana Kramer is also there, looking for another win.
The course is 13.1-mile loop on Shepard Road along the Mississippi River.
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