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Top three men on the podium at Race on the Base.
photo: Peggy Girgenti
11 am | Race recap: Matt Walther and Luigino's Peggy Girgenti skated over lake-sized puddles to win today's Race on the Base 10K in Los Alamitos, Calif.
A large lead pack of about 15 skaters formed at the beginning of the race. One of the leaders was former national champion Curtis Labeda, 47.
Walther and Girgenti skated in the pack for most of the race.
Walther, 31, of San Diego, charged to the lead in the field sprint to win the men's race. His time was 18 minutes and 50 seconds, about two minutes off last year's pace.
Girgenti, 45, of Anaheim Hills, dropped back after a skater crashed in front of her. She finished in a time of 20 minutes and 42 seconds.
Despite heavy showers in the morning, 60 skaters laced up for today's race.
9:50 am | Winner's stories ... Matt Walther: The race winner almost didn't make it past the start. "When I was going across the mat, I slipped and almost bit it," says the 31-year San Diego skater.
With all the water on the course, "you had to be careful, picking your spots, keeping your feet under you."
Walther, who finished third in the race last year, says he picked up the pace on the back stretch to try to thin out the pack. "But mostly, I stayed in the pack and waited for the finish."
Approaching the finish line, he was in about fourth place when one of the Baja skaters charged hard off the front of the pack. "I went with him and he kinda died and I went by him."
Walther cruised across the finish line for the win.
9:20 am | Winner's stories ... Peggy Girgenti: "It was a little sketchy," says the women's winner, Peggy Girgenti of the Luigino Racing Team. "The pack was so big and you didn't know everyone so you didn't know what to expect."
Fortunately, Girgenti says, Matt Walther didn't bolt out at the start, the way he did last year. That would have triggered a dangerous pace through the big puddles in front of the starting line.
After the leaders made it around the first turn, a large pack formed of "15 to 20 really good skaters," Girgenti says.
"We were keeping the pace really fast."
Girgenti stuck with the lead pack until one of the skaters from the Baja team slipped on a patch of road paint and hit the pavement in front of her. She had to slow down to avoid a collision and dropped off the lead back, along with a few other skaters.
"There were a few falls," she says. "This is the first year it rained here. But it's sunny now."
9 am | The Winners: Matt Walther is a 31-year-old skater from San Diego. He finished third in last year's Race on the Base. He is studying public relations at San Diego City College and is a former member of the Bont Racing Team.
Peggy Girgenti is one of North America's top master skaters. She is a 45-year-old school teacher from Anaheim Hills, CA. She has more than 100 career victories on inline skates, including six wins at the former Long Beach Inline Marathon. She is a member of the Luigino Racing Team.
8:50 am | Matt Walther, Peggy Girgenti Win: "Matt was the winner. He outsprinted everybody," says Roger Olson.
"He was on the front coming into the final sprint. Curt Labeda was on his back like glue, followed by Joey Dalton.
There were five skaters in the field sprint.
"Peggy was the first woman, about a minute behind them ... maybe a little less."
8:35 am | They're off: "The sun is shining. The pack is big," says Roger Olson on the runways at the Joint Forces Training Base.
Curt Labeda took the lead from the start, "jumping through the puddles."
Soon a large pack formed of about 15 skaters. Packed in among the men was Luigino's Peggy Girgenti.
"They're jamming," Olson says.
Labeda, a former national champion, is back in the outdoor racing scene. He and Jon Elliot launched their new World Record Wheel company last year.
8:20 am | Lake in front of the starting line: More skaters are appearing as the start approaches. Among them: members of the California Heat speed team; a team from Baja, Mexico; Peggy Girgenti, who won the women's race last year; and Matt Walther, who finished third in the men's race.
"There are some Roller Derby folks and some rec skaters ... and even an ice skater," says Roger Olson. "But the numbers will definitely be down."
Skaters are beginning to line up at the starting line. "And it looks like a lake in front of them with about an inch ... an inch and a half of water. ... But the sun is coming out. ... It's going to be a nice day!"
8 am | Scene at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos: "It poured like crazy from about 4 to 6 this morning" says Roger Olson, a veteran skater from Irvine, CA.
"There's water standing everywhere. It's not raining now and it looks like the clouds are moving on. But a lot of skaters are already bailing. ... It will be interesting to see how many skaters will be at the line."
Among the skaters who are getting ready for the 8:25 a.m. start are Rob Motta (Team Safe) and Blair Atwell.
Olson won't be skating. He's recovering from injuries sustained when a car struck him in a crosswalk while he was skating six months ago.
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