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Photo of elite women's finish: Sports Management Associates
12:26 pm | Men's Race: There were lots of leaders in the today's NorthShore Inline Marathon. But as far as eventual winner Bont's Justin Stelly is concerned, everything went as planned.
"We definitely controlled the race," said Stelly, 23, of Kaplan, LA.
Stelly was teamed up in the race with Bont's Juan Tobon, who won last month's World Inline Cup in Basel.
"Our strategy was to keep testing the pack to see if they would let us go. But they wouldn't."
Any time Stelly, Tobon or any other of the various leaders tried to break away, the pack quickly reeled them back in.
Unable to get away, the Bont skaters — both fast finishers — waited for the final sprint.
At the top of the overpass, 600 meters from the finish line, Cado Motus' Hank Galbraith took off and everyone gave chase.
Tobon, 25, of Cali, Colombia, passed Galbraith and started to open up a lead. Tru-Rev's Julian Rivera, recovered from his crash a few miles earlier, also passed Galbraith to move into second place, 100 meters from the finish.
But then Tobon slid out on the final turn and hit the ground.
After seeing his teammate fall, Stelly started chasing Rivera. "I just opened up my stride to do everything I could to catch him," said Stelly.
On the wet pavement, the skaters had closed up their stride to avoid slipping. "But I found I could open up my stride and get a lot more support from the ground."
Stelly caught Rivera in the final strides to claim his first win in North America's biggest inline marathon.
Next month, Stelly heads to Colombia for the World Championships.
12:06 pm | Divisions: Powerslide's Jorge Botero wins the sprint in the master's race, finishing with a time of 1:19:46.8 (19 minutes slower than his time last year). Max Muscle's Danny Frederick is second; Bont's Norm Kirby, third.
Adams Inline's Kara Peterson finishes five minutes ahead of second-place Marcy Turek of Team Rainbo in the master women's race. Tracy Yde is third.
Adams Inline's Hernan Diaz wins the men's veterans race. Cannon Valley's John Schulte is second; Jeff Terwilliger, third.
10:40 am | Times: Justin Stelly finished in 1:10:01.6. Julian Rivera was one-tenth of a second back.
The rest of the skaters in the lead pack finished within 30 seconds. The last across the line was Bont's Juan Tobon, who limped in after his hard fall 100 meters from the finish line.
Once again, Adams Inline's Kara Peterson, winner of the masters division, posted the fastest women's time of the day. Her time was 1:26:04.6.
At 40 years old, she posted a time that was 1 minute and 23 seconds faster than the elite women's.
10:15 am | Women's race: In the end, the women's race came down to "who could stay on their feet," says Bont's Briana Kramer, the eventual winner.
Briana Kramer beats Chelsea Creveling to the finish line.
photo: Sports Management Associates
The women's pack skated together for the entire race. But things got dicey as they approached the finish line and puddles started to cover the racecourse.
Bont's Sophia Webb started the sprint coming up the ramp over the freeway 500 yards from the finish line. But she fell when she reached the top of the ramp.
"I don't know if she hit a pothole or what," Kramer said. "But she just went down."
Mary Hirt (Team Wisconsin) and Darian O'Neil also went down.
At that point, Team X's Zephaneah Akana, 18, of Couderay, WI, took over the lead, and Kramer and Cado Motus' Chelsea Creveling tucked into her draft.
Coming around the Duluth convention center, Akana had to suddenly jump around a puddle.
At that point, Kramer and Creveling shot past her on the inside and sprinted for the line. Kramer got out in front of Creveling to take the win. Creveling was second. Speed Skate World's Morgane Echardour was third.
The winning time was 1:27:32.4.
Justin Stelly hawks to finish ahead of Julian Rivera.
photo: Sports Management Associates
9:05 am | Women: Bont's Briana Kramer, first; Cado Motus' Chelsea Creveling, second.
8:42 am | Crash then Stelly: Bont's Justin Stelly wins the chaotic final sprint. Tru-Rev's Julian Rivera gets second.
Bont's Juan Tobon had the lead and lots of speed coming around the final corner. But he fell. Stelly, in fourth, caught Rivera with a hawk at the line.
8:39 am | Home stretch: Another fall. Lots of puddles.
8:33 am | Eddy off the front: Twincam's Eddy Matzger is 40 yards ahead of the pack and he's pushing hard, arms swinging. He's never won this race. But it looks like he'd like to. ... He stays ahead through the first tunnel, but by the end of the second tunnel, the pack is right behind him and everyone's standing up, setting up for the finish. ... About a mile to go. Now it's raining. Gonna be a slippery finish.
8:29 am | Slowing down: Eddy Matzger goes on a flyer but is quickly caught. Then Francisco Ramirez takes the lead again. Pace is slower now. The road's wet and we hear that it is raining at the finish line in Duluth. We are just getting into Duluth and see some blue sky.
8:26 am | Julian falls: Last year's winner, Julian Rivera, goes down. There was a breakaway and Julian was pushing the pace. He went down on his side. Everyone else goes around him. He gets up and starts skating again; he's about 50 yards back. But the pack slows down and he catches up.
8:20 am | Getting serious: Six miles to go. We're on residential London Road. Tru-Rev's Julian Rivera and Bont's Justin Stelly pushing the pace. We're at 28-30 mph. One of the Simmons racers is pushing the pace.
8:16 am | Fog: The fog is moving in from the lake. The skaters stood up for a minute, but now they're pushing again: 26 mph.
8:14 am | Even faster: Bont's Justin Stelly goes on a nice flyer, reaching about 34 mph. But then he stands up and lets the pack catch him. The pack is still about 15. ... And now they're standing up again. ... Just finished 17 miles.
8:09 am | Speeding up: Nice pace now ... about 30 mph on surge, led by the "old man" Luis Carlos Mejia (Ezeefit). K2/Empire Speed's Francisco Ramirez has been hanging near the front of the pack.
8:04 am | Half way: Pack's all together again. We're at mile 13 now. They've been on the course for 34 minutes (34:24). Eddy Matzger out in front again.
7:59 am | Standing : The chase group caught the break and now they're all back together and standing up, pushing for a few strides and then standing up. Now Twincam's Eddy Matzger goes on a breakaway. Juan Tobon goes with him.
7:53 am | One of the Cado Motus skaters is out in front now. There are three Cado Motus skaters in the pack: World Team member Keith Carroll, and James and Chris Springer. ... Now Bont's Justin Stelly takes off on a flyer, Ezeefit's Luis Carlos Mejia goes with Stelly. Now Mejia, 49, Bogota, Colombia, is leading the two-man flyer. The chase pack is 70 yards back but gaining on the leaders.
7:50 am | Eddy antics: The pace slows down. So what does Eddy Matzger do. Whips out his camera and starts videotaping the peloton, which has shrunk to about 15 skaters. ... We're only going 19 mph now.
7:42 am | Tobon wants control: Bont's Juan Tobon is leading the pack again. When it slows down a little, he gets off to the right side and moves forward and makes the pack chase. Now Twincam's Eddy Matzger is off the left side of the pack, but Tobon speeds up again and Justin Stelly goes to the front again.
There's no effort to break the NorthShore record today. Tobon said before the start they had no chance on the wet racecourse.
But the pace is good. They finished the first seven miles in 17 minutes.
7:36 am | Start: Nice start. Lead pack of about 25 skaters quickly forms. Right now Tru-Rev's Julian Rivera is leading. Bont's Juan Tobon was pushing the pace early.
7:00 am | Scene: Yep, it rained early this morning. But it's not raining now. The pavement is wet. But the temperature is mild, 56 degrees, and there's no wind. So, if the rain is done, it should be a pretty good day for racing.
Asphalt Beach's Bob Harwell, on his warmup, says the roads are not too slick. But Hoigaard's Herb Gayle disagrees.
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