National Roller Cup

The 24h Roller Montreal: A Non-Traditional Event That Skaters Love

Sept. 2, 2011

Planet report

Hats off to skater-entrepreneur Benoît Julien and Club Roller Montreal.

Seven years ago, with little money and few sponsors, they organized the first 24h Roller Montreal, modeling the event on the annual 24-hour relay race in Le Mans, France.

Only 27 teams competed the first year. But that was enough to get the ball rolling.

This weekend, at least 109 teams, made up of more than 800 skaters, will compete in the eighth annual relay race.

The object of the race is to complete as many laps as possible on the 4.7 km Gilles Villeneuve F1 racetrack within 24 hours.

Teams can be made up of anywhere from one to ten skaters and can devise any strategy they want for how many laps teammates skate before handing off the baton.

The total distances skated are epic.

Last year’s top team, Apex Racing Skates-Il Peloton, logged 173 laps. That’s 813 km, or 505 miles, the distance from Montreal to Akron, OH.

Last year’s top solo skater, Sam Fistel of Atlanta, pounded out 113 laps. That’s 531 km, or 330 miles, the distance from Montreal to New York City.

However, you skate it — as part of a full team, a duo team or solo — it's an event that forces you to push past exhaustion, speed deprivation and varying weather conditions.

Nonetheless — or maybe because of that — it inspires rave reviews from veterans, many of whom remark about the comraderie that develops among skaters over the course of the day.

“Although I was completely exhausted, sleep deprived, wobbly legged, stinky, sweaty, weak from exhaustion, and thinking I would never do this again, I couldn't have had a much better time,” Cale Carvell, 61, of Northfield, IL, wrote after his first 24h Roller in 2008.

Since then, Carvell has returned every year as a member of the 55-and-over team, the Flying Fossils.

Jeffrey Mayoff, 43, of Austin, TX, will be skating the event for the first time this weekend. And he's skating it solo.

An insurance salesman and NROC skater, he admits to some trepidation. But he’s confident he can make it.

“My distance goal is relatively modest,” he says. “I'll be happy to break the 200-mile mark. I'm trying not to freak out. I realize it’s like skating from my home in Austin to my parents house in Dallas ... without stopping!

“But as with every event I’ve done, once the skating actually starts, my mood brightens, and I'm in it for the duration and will see it through. There is no other choice. And when the clock reaches 00:00:00 on Monday, I'll know I've done something amazing.”

He will also be able to feel good about the fund-raising aspect of the event. Teams are required to donate at least $25 for every skater on top of registration and paddock fees. Last year, the event raised $33,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

This year, the 24h Roller Montreal is a major event in the National Roller Cup. NROC skaters will earn points based on the total distance covered by their team.

The event kicks off tonight with a group skate in downtown Montreal and continues Saturday with sprint races. The main event, the 24-hour relay, starts at 2 pm (EDT) Sunday and ends, of course, at 2 pm Monday.

The Inline Planet will post updates from the racecourse on Sunday and Monday.

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