Racing News

Long Beach Decides to Axe — Not Fix — Its Inline Marathon

Skaters Had Love-Hate Relationship With Troubled Event

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

Inline skating is no longer a part of the Long Beach Marathon.

After a bruised inline history, organizers have decided to drop skaters from the 2006 event.

"Due to logistical reasons and the safety of the inline participants, Long Beach will no longer have an inline event," race director Blair Cohn said in an email to the Planet.

The news was first reported by Arizona skater Darin Lewandowski.

In an email, Lewandowski asked Cohn: "Did you have your meeting yet about next year's inline race in Long Beach? Will there be any changes to the starting lineup?"

Cohn replied: "Hi. We did have all of our discussions and after much scrutiny there will be NO inline event in 2006."

Cohn told the Planet that International City Racing, the organizer of the event, had "no choice but to eliminate the inline portion." He said the reason was "the increased number (of cyclists) in the Bike Tour and the time limit the city imposes on us to reopen streets."

No Surprise, Really

For the last few years, inline skating has not appeared to be a high priority for International City Racing.

Despite a history of problems, the company has continued to design the race so that skaters share the often-narrow road course with members of a bicycle tour.

This has proved dangerous and confusing. This year, several skaters in the lead pro pack crashed into a fallen cyclist, and at least two groups of skaters were led to the wrong finish line.

Too Few?

Last year, International City Racing considered axing the 2005 inline marathon, triggering a ground swell of support from skaters.

The company relented, but then failed to implement the recommendations of skaters on how to improve the race.

Probably, the company couldn't justify making costly changes given the relatively small number of skaters.

The number of skaters at the event has hovered around 600 for the last few years, making it the largest inline marathon on the West Coast.

But 600 is small potatoes for International City Racing. The running portion of the Long Beach Marathon draws 8000 while the bike tour draws 3000.

Opening in October

The demise of the Long Beach Inline Marathon will leave a big hole in the fall racing calendar.

One race that might try to fill the gap is the Cactus Classic in Arizona, another late-season event.

The organizers canceled the event this year due to falling registration and sponsorships.

But suddenly, they may find themselves with hundreds of skaters looking for something to do in October.

(Posted on Dec. 15, 2005)

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Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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