National Roller Cup

Preview: 2011 NorthShore Inline Marathon

Sept 16, 2011

Planet report

NorthShore Inline Marathon 2008

NorthShore Inline Marathon 2008

photo: Darlene Prois

Bont’s Juan Tobon will be hoping for dry weather for tomorrow’s NorthShore Inline Marathon in Duluth, MN.

Last year, Tobon was leading the field sprint with a hundred yards to go when he fell on the rain-slick pavement.

He jumped back up and started skating within a few seconds. But already more than a dozen skaters had passed him and he had to settle for 15th place.

The forecast for Saturday’s race is dry and mild. So rain shouldn’t be a factor. But . But Tobon, 26, of Cali, Colombia, will have another force of nature to deal with: Atom Wheels’ Joey Mantia.

Mantia, 25, of Ocala, FL, is coming off his worst World Championships in five years. But he’s still the undisputed North American marathon champion.

He won both of his U.S. marathons this year in solo breakaways that landed him at the finish line minutes ahead of the next skater.

“He’s probably going to out and be the super hero,” said Sports Quest’s Kelly Springer.

Last year’s winner, Bont’s Justin Stelly, will not be skating Saturday. He fell during a relay event at Worlds and reinjured the ankle he broke a few years ago and sprained his knee.

Another no-show will be Tru-Rev’s Julian Rivera, who finished a wheel behind Stelly last year and won the event in 2009.

Other top men in the field with include Adams Inline’s David Sarmiento, Simmons Rob Bell, Twincam’s Eddy Matzger and Toronto Inline’s Peter Doucet.

In the women’s field, Bont’s Briana Kramer, winner of last year’s event, will be back to defend her title. She will be skating with teammate Sophie Webb, who fell in last year’s race.

Another top woman will be Canada’s Morgane Echardour, who is leading the women’s division in the 2011 National Roller Cup.

Once again, K2 is offering a $10,000 bounty on the course record of 57 minutes and 18 seconds, set in 1998 by Chad Hedrick. Elite skaters have been inching closer to the record since the advent of big wheels. But so far, they haven’t gotten enough help from the wind. A stiff tailwind pushed skaters all the way down the point-to-point course in 1998.

As of midweek, 1,976 were registered for the marathon, 379 for half-marathon and 51 for the new roller-ski marathon. Last year, about 3,000 skated the full and half marathons.

Returning skaters will be glad to hear that the one-mile stretch of the course on I-35 near Leif Erikson Park was resurfaced in June. The rough, ridged pavement played havoc with skaters last year.

Skaters will also welcome the news that the thick rubber timing mat at the finish line on Harbor Drive has finally been replaced. Each year, dozens of skaters have tripped on the mat just as they were ready to celebrate their finish.

The Inline Planet will report on the race on Saturday morning. The marathon starts at 7:30 am CDT.

(Post your photos, videos and reports on the Skater Network.)

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