Planet Preview: the 2005 Napa Valley Inline Marathon
Promoter Hopes to Grow Northern California's Only Inline Marathon
The Napa Valley Inline Marathon is one of the most under appreciated events in the inline world.
It's got a great setting in Northern California's fabulous Wine Country.
It's got a great course: two loops on the black ice of the scenic Silverado Trail highway, which will be closed to traffic.
And it's got a great promoter: David G. Miles, Jr., the so-called Godfather of Skating, the man who more than any other keeps the inline world rolling in Northern California.
But nevertheless, it lacks the crowds.
Last year, only about 120 skaters participated in the event's full and half marathons.
And this year looks to be about the same, says Miles, president of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association.
"But you know what?," says Miles. "It doesn't matter. We are going to have a great time!
"The people who are going to come out are going to be the people who really love skating."
The race is part of a marathon weekend that includes a wine tour and barbecue.
It starts at 7 a.m. Sunday at the Silver Rose Winery on the Silverado Trail in Calistoga. All skaters must be off the course by 10 a.m., when the road reopens to traffic.
A contingent of professional racers (most from California) will compete in the event. But most of the skaters will be competing for personal bests or just to have a good time.
The Long and Winding Road ...
The Napa Inline Marathon has a long history compared to most events in the young inline world.
It started life in 1993 as the Calistoga Road Skate. At the time, it was a point-to-point event that went from Napa to Calistoga.
It was an "uncontrolled" event, meaning skaters rolled along the shoulder of the road as traffic whizzed by.
After a few years, the police decided they didn't like the way some of the skaters were behaving (they were skating on the road) and forced the race to the opposite side of the street, against traffic.
That proved unpopular with skaters, and participation dwindled.
Miles reacted by renaming the event and turning it into a mainstream inline marathon on a closed road course.
Miles says he expects the event to break even this year. But naturally, he would like to see it grow.
He says he may work with the Team in Training group to try to pump new skaters into the event next year.
"There's no reason why this event couldn't be the biggest inline marathon on the West Coast," he says.
... All it needs is more skaters.
(posted on Aug. 3, 2005)
Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson
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