Planet Preview: The Metrodome Inline Marathon
300 Expected to Skate in Inaugural Event
(Part 2 of 2)
In most races, skaters will start one at a time with five or more seconds between individual starts.
Skaters will be outfitted with transponders to track their times and laps.
An announcer will notify each skater when he or she has five laps to go. At that point, it will be up to the skater to do the counting. (The full marathon is 70.7 laps around the Metrodome.)
Adding to the excitement of the event will be a team competition for skaters in the professional and advanced marathon.
Each team will have three to five skaters. Team mates will be allowed to draft behind one another, but not other skaters. (Drafting is allowed in the event, but pace lines are limited to five skaters.)
Teams will be ranked based on the time of the third fastest team member. (In other words, the winning team will be the one to get three skaters over the finish line the quickest.)
So far, six teams have entered, including three sponsored by the Minnesota-based skate merchant Adam's Inline.
300 Skaters Expected
The Minnesota skating community appears to be embracing the new marathon.
By midweek, 268 skaters -- mostly from Minnesota -- had signed up for the inaugural event. By Sunday, the number is expected to reach 300.
"We're happy," Cofrin said. "Three hundred people for a first-time marathon is a good deal."
Even if no more skaters sign up, the event will rank as the fifth largest inline marathon in the United States. The only bigger events are the Northshore in Duluth, Minn., with about 4000 skaters; the St. Paul with 1800; the Disney with about 1500 and the Long Beach which tops out at about 600.
Only in Minnesota?
An event like the Metrodome Marathon might not fly anywhere else in the United States. But in Minnesota, it looks like a natural.
Minnesota may be best known for cold winters and ravenous mosquitoes, but it's also the epicenter of inline skating in the United States.
"Because it all started here," says Cofrin, referring to the fact that Scott Olson founded Rollerblade in Minnesota. (It was also Olson who hired Cofrin to start the Rollerblade Rollerdome in 1989.)
In the 25 years since Olson got the ball rolling, a "cohesive skating community" has formed in the state, Cofrin says.
Programs like the Rollerdome help. But it doesn't hurt that the state has numerous inline events in the summer and thousands of miles of paved bike trails.
... Oh, Minnesota, land of 'skeeters' and skaters.
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson