Preview: the Athens to Atlanta Road Skate
Female Long Distance Champ Kim Perkins Talks to the Planet About the 2004 A2A Ultra Marathon
After the last of the big marathons in the fall, inline racers, at least the toughest of them, have one more big U.S. race to look forward to: the Athens to Atlanta Road Skate.
It's 87 miles long -- more than three times the length of a marathon; it's all hills; and it can test the mettle of even the greatest skaters.
World Champion speed skater Chad Hendrick tried it one year (1994). He got blown out and has never returned.
Skate legend Eddy Matzger, who has won the race seven times, says he keeps going back to "test his demons."
For a preview of the 2005 A2A (Sunday October 24), the Inline Planet talked to inline racing champ Kim Perkins. Perkins, of Berkeley, Calif., has won the women's division the last two years and will be racing again this year. She also serves as the event's media contact person.
Thanks, Kim. And good luck, Sunday!
Robert: So how is the event shaping up this year?
Kim: At this point registration is down a few percentage points from last year. Our pre-registration is 302. But we don't know yet how many people we will have. A lot of people make their decision at the last minute and show up the day before the race.
Robert: How many people raced last year?
Kim: We had 451 entrants.
Robert: What caliber of competition do you expect at the race this year?
Kim: There are always a lot of strong skaters out there. ... Eddy Matzger will be there. He tends to rule the event. But there are usually some skaters who come from Europe to contest that. But they usually register at the last minute so we don't know who they will be.
Robert: Who else do you expect to show up?
Kim: Well, Luis-Carlos Mejia will be there. He's a very strong Columbian skater. And Peter Doucet and Aaron Arndt will be there from Canada. And Dennis Humphrey will be there from New York.
Robert: How about female skaters?
Kim: Well, Kimberly Westbury is coming back. And Martine Charbonneau, another Canadian skater.
Robert: And of course you will be in the race again?
Kim: Yes. This will be my fourth time.
Robert: What is it that keeps you coming back to the Athens to Atlanta?
Kim: This distance is unlike any other race. Often after an hour and a half race, you've still got something left at the end. But this race takes everything you've got.
There is something really wonderful about pushing yourself to the limit. And it takes an event of this magnitude to do this.
(And by the way, if you want to give the A2A a try but aren't ready for 87 miles, the event also has race distances of 37 and 52 miles. ... Just a walk in the park, eh!)
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson