Once again, there was some great racing at the Saint Paul Inline Marathon. Registration may have been low this year, but enthusiasm wasn’t.
Unfortunately, the Miss and Out elimination race had to be cancelled due to the rain. The Mears Park course was deemed unsafe due to the wet pavement. That didn’t stop the pros. They were headed out the door like gladiators when they learned the event had been called off.
As always, the pre race expo was a great place to catch up with skating buddies, tell skate stories and talk about the latest equipment.
On to the Race
Jilleanne Rookard, winner of the women's pro race.
Photo: Darlene Prois
The course was starting to dry today before the marathon. But the sky was overcast and a wind was blowing. At race time is was about 60 degrees.
The pro/elite men went off at 7 a.m. with the Masters Men going off one minute later. The course seemed to be in perfect shape heading out, but about two miles out a mist started falling. That kept that end of the course extremely wet the rest of the race.
It didn’t take long for the masters to catch the young guys. They were mixed for most of the race. The race didn’t feature too many attacks, but the pace remained fairly constant.
Master skater Nikko Ramkisoon was on a breakaway with about 10 miles to go when the eventual winner, Bont’s Steve Robillard of Montreal, made his own break to go after Nikko.
"I just kind of skated away while the pace was slow. I didn’t really try to launch an attack” said Robillard.
He eventually caught and passed Ramkisoon and skated solo the rest of the race.
Ramkisoon was caught by the pack. MTeam’s Scott Bliss and Brian Talley tried to lead the charge back up to Robillard, but Team Bont’s Jono Gorman did an excellent job of disrupting any attempts at organizing a chase.
Robillard soloed to win the race in a time of 1:14:09. During the first lap of the race, heading west from the start-finish area the course was wet from about one mile out. At the end of the 1st lap the hill finish was still dry. Finishing the second lap, however, things had changed and now the uphill leading to the finish was very wet and slippery.
In the field sprint for second, Brain Talley led the last mile trying to set up Scott Bliss. As Bliss powered up the hill, Jono Gorman was able to overtake him and hold on for second in a time of 1:16:00:2, making it a one-two finish for Bont.
Bliss held on for third (1:16:00:9) with Team Rainbo’s Peter Starykowicz finishing fourth (1:16:01.5). “I just kept passing people on the climb to the finish. I’m really happy with my result," said Starykowicz.
Rounding out the top five was Adam Miller of Independence, MO, in a time of 1:16:02:4. (Adam’s Inline’s David Sarmiento was knocked out of the action when his frame came loose with about two miles to go.)
The masters men’s race was won by Nikko Ramkisoon in a time of 1:15:06. "I had to pass a bunch of guys on the final climb," said an elated Ramkisoon. Bont’s Norm Kirby finished second, three seconds behind Ramkisoon. Not far back was Hernan Diaz with a time of 1:15:11 and Bruce Belden with a time of 1:15:13. In 5th place, and almost a minute back was Toronto’s Morgan Williams.
(Note: I’m going to refer to myself as "I". I hate using the 3rd person to write about myself. It just seems wrong).
The veteran men started three minutes behind the masters to prevent a repeat of what happened two years ago when the vets caught the masters. Even so, the race started fast with the usual work horses, Jeff Terwilliger, Randy Plett, and Fred Scheer, setting the early pace.
After a while, things settled down as we skated into the strong headwind on our way back into downtown St. Paul. The action started in the final miles when Randy Plett and Jeff Terwilliger got off the front. Nobody seemed willing to chase and I saw my chances of winning slipping away. I made a break and worked extremely hard to bridge the gap.
To my surprise, no one came with me. When I caught them, I was gassed but I figured I had to stick it out, though I wasn’t going to help the cause. I thought the two of them would either pull me to the finish or get frustrated and wait for the group.
Terwilliger dropped off and Randy just kept plugging away. We really had quite a gap but I didn’t want to take the chance of blowing up before the finish. I like my chances in a field sprint. My Rainbo teammate, Cale Carvell, closed the gap to us with a real strong effort. "You’re my hero,” Scheer was heard saying to Cale as he finished closing the gap.
Heading to the final turn I was in 2nd place. I’m not sure who was in front but as soon as we cleared the bridge and started the climb I could feel the pack starting to make their move. I pulled out to the right. As I did, Fred Scheer went running up the hill opening about a five-yard gap. I wasn’t getting much traction but I wasn’t ready to give up. I just started running up the hill. I closed the gap on Fred and went by him on the right. Things were looking good as I could see the finish getting closer.
Just as I allowed myself to think I’m going to win, Randy Plett overtook me on the left. I tried to get into a skating rhythm, but I just couldn’t get any traction so I continued my semi-running style.
Randy smoothly powered away from me for 1st in 1:22:09:2. I almost blew second place as I stood up at the first mat then realized that wasn’t the finish. I held on for second with a time of 1:22:10.5. Fred Scheer finished third in 1:22:10:7; Cale Carvell finished fourth in 1:22:11:6; and Bobby Piedra rounded out the top five in 1:22:12:2.
All the pro women started together … well, almost. For some reason, that I’ll let them explain, the Bont girls, Jilleanne Rookard and Helen Havam, started fashionably late. They started almost one minute after the rest of the pro women.
In the meantime, Adams Inline’s Kara Peterson made sure it wasn’t going to be easy to catch her. Accustomed to skating solo, Kara kept the hammer down.
Finally Rookard and Havam caught up but the effort took it’s toll. At some point, Helen started cramping up and had to drop off the pace. Kara and Jilleanne worked together the rest of the race.
At the base of the final climb Rookard made her move. Being the better sprinter of the two she powered her way to victory in a time of 1:24:6. Kara finished second, not far back in 1:24:30. "That Girl is strong. I thought she was going to drop me a couple of times” said Rookard of Peterson.
Havam held on to finish 3rd in 1:27:09. Sophie Webb, 15, finished fourth in 1:31:22. Rounding out the top five was Rebecca George of Baxter, MN, coming in at 1:33:30.
Peterson was the winner of the master's women's division.
Team Rainbo’s Margo Carvell finished first in the veterans women’s division.
In all, 1082 skaters participated in today's race. Apparently the rain discouraged many skaters: 1473 had registered for the event.
All in all, it was another great event put on by Adam Kocinski and the Saint Paul Inline Marathon crew.
Thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this a spectacular event —despite the rain.
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Burnson