Creveling, Rookard Win in the Rain
Luigino's Christopher Creveling broke away from the lead pack with two other skaters today and went on to win the rainy Northshore Inline Marathon.
Winning the women's race was Bont North America's Jilleanne Rookard, who finished about 30 meters ahead of both Hyper's Jessica Smith and Powerslide's Cecilia Baena, the reigning world marathon champion.
The race started in the rain with a storm sweeping the Northshore of Lake Superior between Duluth and Twin Harbors, Minn.
Several of the elite men's skaters attempted to break away from the pack early in the race. But on the slippery pavement, they were unable to get away.
Finally, with about eight kilometers left in the race, Bont North America's Steve Robillard broke ahead of the pack and took a lead of about 200 yards. After a few minutes, Creveling and Colombia's David Sarmiento bridged the gap to join Robillard at the front.
Back in the main pack, Creveling's teammate Joey Mantia, the reigning world marathon champion, and Robillard's Bont teammates protected the leaders by maintaining a relaxed pace.
Working together, the breakaway group built a lead of about 40 seconds and were out of sight of the chase pack. But later, the pack began to catch up. "We could see them behind us," said Robillard, 22, of Montreal.
As they approached the finish line in Duluth, the rain had stopped.
Creveling was the first to start sprinting. The 19-year-old from Kintnersville, Pa., finished first, a second ahead of Sarmiento, who skated for Colombia at last year's Pan American Championships.
Robillard finished one-tenth of a second back in third place.
The main pack finished 35 seconds later with Mantia in the lead.
Jilleanne Rookard, skating in only her second race of the year, won the women's race with a big assist from her Bont North America teammates, Helen Havam and Vicci King.
Arriving at the final hill (a highway ramp), Rookard was in second place in the large women's lead pack.
As the pack started up the hill, Rookard's teammates charged around the side of the pack and made their way toward the front. As they pulled alongside Rookard, she jumped out in front of them and together, they shot to the lead.
"I just flew up the hill," Rookard said. "I was first to the top, and everyone behind me was slipping on the road paint."
The wet road markings on the hill proved slick for lots of the skaters. "But I was able to go around the paint because I was in first place and could see what was coming and step around it," Rookard said.
Rookard's teammates maintained their position in second and third place and "just held the pack back, so I could get away."
Rookard coasted down the backside of the hill and built a big lead.
With only two turns and a few hundred yards to go, "I knew I had to go for it, and I went for it," Rookard said. "I was a little nervous. But they were slipping and couldn't get enough speed to catch me. I finished about 30 meters ahead of them."
Jessica Smith hawked at the line to take second; Celilia Baena was third.
Rookard was a member of last year's U.S. World Team. But she gave up skating for most of this year to care for her ailing mother.
The number of skaters who registered for this year's Northshore was 3687 (3327 in the full marathon, 367 in the half).
That's 203 fewer than last year, but still about twice as many as any other U.S. inline marathon.