Ashland Daily Press video of the 2011 Apostle Islands Inline Marathon
David Sarmiento will try to extend his three race winning streak Saturday at the Apostle Islands Inline Marathon.
The 30-year-old Colombian transplant has been unbeatable this year.
First, he led the winning team in the Metrodome Time Trial. Next, he won the Grand Old Day’s 8K in Minneapolis. Then, last weekend, he triumphed in the Baxter Inline Marathon.
Saturday’s race will be his toughest challenge so far with a large field of skaters expected from all over the Midwest. As of Thursday, 390 skaters were registered for the event on Madeline Island, part of the Apostle Islands chain.
Sarmiento, a member of the Minneapolis-based Adam’s Test Team, won the event last year on a breakaway with teammate Ty Fidler.
This year, he won’t have Fidler to work with. The 30-year-old chemical engineer from St. Louis said Thursday that family obligations would likely force him to scratch himself from the race. Besides, Fidler is no longer Sarmiento’s teammate, having jumped to the new Pinnacle Racing marathon squad.
But that doesn’t mean Sarmiento won’t have help. He will be skating with three teammates: Matt Meyer, Andrew Peper and Tom Peterson. However, it is unclear how much help they will be for Sarmiento. None of them has finished in the front of a field sprint in recent races.
Rival teams are likely to attack relentlessly throughout the race to try to tire Sarmiento, who is one of the top sprinters in the Midwest.
One of the teams that will likely challenge Sarmiento will be Simmons Racing. The team will only have two skaters in the mix Saturday: Rob Bell, 28, and Alex Fedak, 46, both of Oklahoma City. But what the team lacks in numbers, it makes up for in strength, speed and tactical skill.
Last year, Bell took the lead in the Minnesota Half Marathon with less than 100 yards to go after a lead-out by Fedak. But Sarmiento followed Bell and hawked at the line for the win.
This race may be different. Both Simmons skaters have been racing well this spring, and Bell has been working on his sprint. “We’re ready,” Fedak says.
Another team that Sarmiento will have to keep his eye on Saturday is Hoigaard’s, which this year — aside from a base of solid performers — has a new rising star: Paul Dyrud, a former long-track ice speed skater who finished fifth in the men's 5000-meter US Olympic speedskating trial in 2009.
Dyrud finished second — one-half second behind Sarmiento — in last weekend’s Baxter Inline Marathon in Minnesota.
Dyrud will be skating with a powerful team of at least five racers, including Jeff Terwilliger, Andy Kostka and Herb Gayle.
Another team that may be agitating for the podium is Twincam, which includes Brent Bovitz, Ron Marfori and Mike DeZellar, all of whom have been skating well this year.
However you look at it, it’s likely to be a tough race for Sarmiento, who lives in Sleepy Eye, MN.
To make matters worse, “now I have a problem with my back,” Sarmiento said Thursday. The back pain developed this week while training. “But I think I will be OK for the race,” he said.
He said his plan for Saturday’s race is to stay near the front and "be ready for all the other guys to attack.”
“Right now, I don’t know if it’s going to rain. That could also change the race.”
Accuweather is predicting partly cloudy skies and mild temperatures in nearby La Pointe, WI, with a thunderstorm arriving at noon.
The race starts at 8:30 am CDT.
Can Anyone Beat Kara?
Once again this year, Kara Peterson will be the skater to beat in the women’s race.
The 43-year-old Minneapolis police officer — who skates on the Adam's Test Team —has won the race two years in a row ... in other words, since it was founded in 2010.
Last year, Peterson finished the race, tucked into the second men’s lead pack, three minutes ahead of the second-place woman, Asphalt Beach’s Candy Wong.
The year before she finished seven minutes ahead of the second-place woman, Martha Flynn-Kauth.
The Apostle Islands Inline Marathon is a major class event in the 2012 National Roller Cup.
To earn points in the race, NROC Pro and Advanced skaters must start with the appropriate wave.
NROC Pro and Advanced men — up to age 49 — must start with the first wave; NROC Pro and Advanced men — 50 and older — must start with the second wave; NROC Pro and Advanced women — all ages — must start in the third wave.
NROC Youth skaters should start with the the wave assigned to them by the race directors. The NROC scorekeeper will use chip times to determine their NROC division placements.
The Inline Planet will begin live blog coverage of the race at 8 am EDT.
(If you would like to be part of our coverage, post your photos, videos and reports on the Skater Network.)