9:40 am | Recap: Today's men's and women's races were studies in contrast.
The men's race was tactical. It featured a big, hard-charging lead pack that remained together for most of the race and finally settled accounts in a mass field sprint.
The women's race was physical. It was about who had the legs with a small, cohesive pack slowly shrinking until only Kara Peterson was left.
From the start, the pro men formed into a big pack of about 30 skaters. "The pace was pretty slow," said Simmons' Ryan Chrisler, 37, of Derby, Kansas.
But there were lots of breakaway attempts, most initiated by the two three-man teams: Simmons and Adams Inline.
"Our team did about six or seven breaks," said Chrisler. "But with all the downhills, we couldn't get away."
After 12 miles, 20 skaters remained in the lead pack. With about half a mile to go, Simmons' Alex Fedak took off, following the team's plan, Chrisler said.
"Alex went early to make the pack chase, and they did," Chrisler said. "It worked perfect."
Fedak took a short lead while his teammates, Chrisler and Rob Bell, stayed in the pack.
"We sat back and when the pack started to tire, we took off," Chrisler said.
Chrisler and Bell took the lead in the final straightaway. And then, thinking they had the race won, "we slowed down" Chrisler said. "We didn't see Danny Frederick. He was on the far inside and he caught us and hawked us at the line."
Frederick said he just got lucky.
He watched the teams vie for control throughout the race and then positioned himself for the sprint. "It was a really interesting race," said Frederick, a 39-year-old pediatric echo cardiologist from Roseville, MN.
Six of the pro women — Kara Peterson, Tracy Yde, Martha Flynn-Kauth, Sarah Oftedahl, Nadine Currie Jackson and Rayna Meyer — formed into a lead pack at the start of the race.
"We didn't start out overly fast," said Adams Inline's Kara Peterson.
But some of the other women in the pack might beg to differ.
One by one, the other women dropped off the pace.
After six miles, only three skaters remained: Peterson, Yde and Flynn-Kauth. But then Flynn-Kauth fell back, and there were only two.
Peterson, a 40-year-old Minneapolis police officer, said she was feeling strong. "I did some surges and felt good."
Approaching an uphill climb near the turnaround at Mile 8, I thought, this is my opportunity to go, and I went and it worked for me."
She skated the rest of the race alone, finishing about a minute ahead of Yde. Flynn-Kauth left Currie-Jackson behind about a half mile before the finish line to claim third.
Shortly after the race ended, and while the runners were still out on the course, a light rain started falling.
An hour after the race, the Asphalt Beach team was already on the road, heading for Sunday morning's Planet Adventure race in Indianapolis. But they were hungry. "I'm thinking iHop," said team leader Steve Larios.
8:22 am | Kara Peterson wins: Adams Inline's Kara Peterson wins the women's race, finishing about a minute ahead of second-place Tracy Yde.
Midwest's Martha Flynn-Kauth is third; Asphalt Beach's Nadine Currie Jackson, fourth.
8:12 am | Danny Frederick wins: It's a big field sprint. But Max Muscle's Danny Frederick pulls it out at the last second, narrowly edging out Simmons' Rob Bell.
It's Frederick's second win of the season. The Roseville, MN, skaters also won the Apostle Islands Inline Marathon in June.
8:07 am | One mile to go: Three Adams Inline skaters — Matt Meyer, Ty Fidler and Tom Peterson — sit at the front of the big lead pack as tension rises in the paceline.
"They're starting to speed up," says Connie Ecklund, alongside the pack on the lead motorcycle.
Others in the pack include Jeff Terwilliger, Herb Gayle, Randy Plett (Red River Speed), Norm Kirby, Rob Bell and Sk8hard's Rick Abrahamson. Dave Swan, who won the Metrodome Inline Marathon, is sitting at the back of the pack.
8 am | Kara in front: Adams Inline's Kara Peterson, a master skater, has a big lead at the turnaround. "No one else is in sight," says Connie Ecklund.
About two minutes back is Midwest Skate Club's Martha Flynn-Kauth, followed by Aspahlt Beach's Nadine Currie Jackson.
The pro men are still all together, although the pack has dwindled to about 20.
7:53 am | Short-lived flyer: Ty Fidler, Matt Meyer and Randy Plett (back this year after breaking his neck cycling) went on a flyer and got ahead of the pack by 75-100 yards. But it didn't last.
By Mile 8 at the turnaround, they're all back together again. ... Only 5 miles to go. (Remember: this is a half marathon.)
7:47 am | Mile 4: The pro men are still all together with several skaters, including Adams Inline's Tom Peterson and Ty Fidler, sharing pulls at the head of the pack. Currently, Hoigaard's Herb Gayle in the lead.
The pro women are out on the racecourse now. They have formed a small lead pack of six skaters: Adams Inline's Kara Peterson, Midwest's Martha Flynn, Rayna Meyer, Tracy Yde and Sarah Oftendahl.
7:39 am | Pro men on the course: After the first mile and a half, Bont's Norm Kirby sits at the head of a big lead pack of 30 skaters. Just behind him are Simmons' Alex Fedak and Rob Bell.
The advanced men are also away.
7:29 am | Announcement: Race officials announce that they are combining the men's pro waves. Open, master and veteran men will start together, same as the pro women. This is due to the relatively small pro field for today's race, one of three events vying for skaters this weekend.
7:20 am | Scene: A crowd of skaters is converging on the starting area in Lower Landing Park in Saint Paul with ten minutes to go before the race.
The temperature is in the low-70s and the winds are calm.
"It looks good," says chief race official Connie Ecklund. "Skies are cloudy and rain is forecast, but not until afternoon."
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