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Motorists Spot Giant Skaters in St. Paul!
Event billboards provide exposure for inline skating

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson
Thursday, June 21, 2007

Giant skaters rolling through Minneapolis-St. Paul?

That's right!

The 14-foot-tall skaters appeared Wednesday on two billboards along highways in the Twin Cities.

Sponsored by Rollerblade USA, the 48-foot-wide billboards are intended to promote the Saint Paul Inline Marathon and fuel interest in inline skating in general, said Rollerblade's Nick Skally.

"The general public lacks an awareness of our sport, and billboards like these can really provide some much-needed exposure," he said.

The billboards, along I-94 and I-35E, feature a giant photo of the 2005 Saint Paul Inline Marathon and the words:

invites you to
Skate Saint Paul.com
Aug. 19
Skate 10 or 26 miles

Mike Cofrin, co-owner of 26point2, the organizer of the Saint Paul Inline Marathon, said he hopes the exposure will help the marathon reach its goal of 2000 skaters.

The number of skaters drawn to the 4-year-old event has hovered just under 1700 for several years, despite 26point2's efforts to increase attendance by adding new features, such as the Miss & Out elimination race and this year's 10 mile skate. Meanwhile, up the road in Duluth, the 10-year-old Northshore Inline Marathon packs in nearly 4000 skaters a year.

"We take this event seriously, and we want to make it much bigger," Cofrin said.

The billboards are already attracting attention, most prominently from Doug Morton, the CEO of Sports Authority, the nation's largest sporting goods retailer. During a visit to the Twin Cities, Morton spotted one of the billboards and was apparently impressed. He emailed his managers, asking them to find out how the company could get involved in the event promotion. They, in turn, contacted Rollerblade's vice president for sales and marketing, Stephen Charrier.

"It just shows us that people are looking at the billboards — and that makes me wonder if we should be doing more of this kind of thing," Charrier said.


Footnote: In case the photo on the billboard looks familiar, that's not surprising. It's one of the shots taken by Darlene Prois and featured in the Inline Planet's coverage of the 2005 Saint Paul Inline Marathon. (To see more of Prois' photos, go to our Event Photos page.)

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