Island Skate Marathon Keeps Growing
June 16, 2011
Apostle Islands Inline Marathon map
Good thing no one told the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce that inline skating was dead.
A few years ago, that might have been enough to convince chamber members to give up on the sport.
Their annual event, the Big Granite Inline Marathon, was going downhill as fast as the skaters on its famously hilly racecourse.
From a peak of 375 skaters in 2001, attendance had plummeted to 87 by 2009.
The chamber was disheartened. But rather than give up, it remade the event, moving it to the skate friendly flats of Madeline Island in the Apostle Islands chain on Lake Superior and entering it in the National Roller Cup race series.
The strategy worked.
Last year, 221 skaters raced in the inaugural Apostle Islands Inline Marathon. This year, 389 skaters had signed up by Thursday morning with more expected to register by the Friday deadline.
“We are loving it,” said race organizer Mary McPhetridge of the Ashland chamber.
“The volunteers are excited. More people are staying on the island. And we are getting emails from skaters telling us about how excited they are to be coming.”
Most skaters are coming from Minnesota and Wisconsin. Madeline Island is a four hour drive, plus ferry ride, from Minneapolis.
Other skaters are coming from as far away as Oklahoma, Colorado, Florida and Toronto.
Among the notables are Hoigaard’s Jeff Terwilliger, Herb Gayle, Andy Kostka and Kathy Wagle; Max Muscle’s Rayna Meyer, Mike DeZellar and Terry Holm; Asphalt Beach’s Nadine Currie-Jackson, Candy Wong and Steve Larios; and Team Rainbo’s Cale and Margo Carvel.
Adams Inline is fielding what looks to be the strongest team, among its ranks: Danny Frederick and Kara Peterson, who won the open divisions at last year's race. Also racing for Adams Inline are Ty Fidler, who finished second in the 2010 National Roller Cup, and David Sarmiento, a strong transplant from Colombia.
Skaters loved the Apostle racecourse last year. Several of them described it as the smoothest they had ever skated on.
This year, the course is the same 8.7-mile loop along shorelines and through forests, but in the opposite direction (clockwise).
Skaters in the full marathon do three laps; skaters in the ALMT — “A Little More Than" — a half marathon do two; skaters in the Mad Fun Skate do one.
The marathon is a major event in the 2011 National Roller Cup for Pro and Advanced skaters. Youth skaters can earn points in both the full and half marathon with racers in the full marathon taking the top points.
Start time is 8:30 a.m. (CDT) Saturday.
The Inline Planet will cover the marathon with a live blog starting at 8 a.m. (Post your photos, videos and reports on the Skater Network.)
1. Pro/Advance Open and Pro/Advance Masters - Male & Female
2. Pro/Advanced Veteran and Pro/Advanced Grand Veteran - Male & Female
3. Full Fitness Rec - Male
4. Full Fitness Rec - Female
5. Half Fitness Rec - Male & Female
6. Mad Skate - Male & Female