Planet Preview: The Metrodome Inline Marathon
300 Expected to Skate in Inaugural Event
For the past 15 years, the Minneapolis Metrodome has played host to almost as many inline skaters as football fans.
Ninety days out of the year (from October to April), the sports stadium is transformed into the "Rollerdome" for inline skaters seeking refuge from the long Minnesota winters.
On the Metrodome's lower concourse, recreational skaters and beginners loop the buttery smooth, sealed concrete floor.
On the upper concourse, fitness and speed skaters exercise and train.
Over the years, the Metrodome has played host to all kinds of skating events: technique seminars, singles nights, costume parties, even an alcohol-free New Years Eve celebration, although never an inline race.
Inspiration from St. Paul
But last year, Rollerdome owner Mike Cofrin and his company, 26point2, organized a little race across the river in St. Paul.
More than 1,800 skaters showed up for the event, making the St. Paul Inline Marathon the second largest skating marathon in North America.
That got Cofrin and company thinking. (The company includes Cofrin's business partner, Marilyn Franzen, and general manager Adam Kocinski.)
"With our success with the St. Paul Marathon, we decided we would like to get people into the marathon frame of mind earlier in the year," Cofrin says.
And so they came up with the idea for the Metrodome Inline Marathon, a one-of-a-kind, innovative event which will have its inaugural roll on Sunday (April 17, 2005).
The easy part was coming up with the idea for the marathon, Cofrin says. The hard part was figuring out how to make it work.
Squeezing a Marathon into a Metrodome
The challenge was presented by the geography of the Metrodome's upper concourse, where they decided to hold the race. The concourse is only 25 feet wide and 605 meters around.
With such a limited amount of space, it would be impossible to start all the skaters at once, or even in waves, without creating massive traffic jams, or worse.
So Cofrin and company decided to split the event into five races (similar to heats), all run separately.
The first race of the day will be the marathon for professional and advanced skaters. It is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. (So far, 46 skaters are signed up.)
The second race is the first marathon for fitness and recreational skaters. It starts at 9:30 a.m. (So far, 86 skaters have been assigned to this group.)
The third race is a 3-lap children's event at 1:30 p.m. (Only two skaters so far.)
The fourth race is the second marathon for fitness and recreational skaters. It starts at 2 p.m. (So far, 68 skaters are in this group.)
The fifth and final race of the day will be the half-marathon at 4 p.m. (So far, 28 skaters have signed up.)
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson