Report: 2005 St. Gallen One-Eleven

Pouring Rain, Hard Fall and Epic Climb at St. Gallen

Louis Beaudoin Reports On His Experience in the 2005 St. Gallen Ultra-Marathon

(Part 2 of 2)


The first turn was a 90-degree corner into a slight uphill. We took it fast and skaters attacked immediately. The road was only wide enough to support two skaters sprinting.

I was in the middle when the attack came. I got my skates kicked on both sides, and knew I was going to fall. I had enough time to lean my fall towards the outside of the road, and slid from the road onto the grass, facing downhill towards the oncoming skaters. I ducked instinctively and felt an impact on my helmet. I must have been kicked by a skater. I felt my helmet with my hands. It was loose on my head but still intact. I jumped up immediately, and could see all the skaters pulling away. Without assessing my injuries, I started sprinting, not wanting the fall to be the end of my race. (I would find later that I had only some minor scrapes: one on my knee and one on my butt. My boot was scraped up, the frame shifted a quarter-inch in the front, my helmet was not permanently damaged but parts had snapped off, and I lost my sunglasses.)

Within a minute, I was at the front of the chase pack that separated at the attack. Pulling hard, we caught the front pack only five minutes later.

At this point I was exhausted from the effort of recovering my position in the pack. I tried to rest as best as I could in the pack, while still staying toward the front. At one calm point, I looked around, and was very impressed to see I was skating amongst at least 50 skilled skaters still at the front of the pack. It was a great moment, unlike any other race I've been in.

Lead Pack Away

Another serious attack came at 1:30 into the race when we hit the only stretch of rough pavement on the race. I gave all I could, but between the rough pavement and my exhaustion, I saw the lead pack of about 25-30 guys pull away.

A chase pack of less than ten guys formed, and we worked together pulling hard for the rest of the race. The lead pack was in sight, less than a minute away for the next half-hour, but we never gained any ground on them.

Right after the attack, my back started bothering me, but I was using correct form and there was nothing I could do except ignore it for the rest of the race.

After being in the chase pack for about fifteen minutes, I felt a few drops of rain that turned into a light shower and then into pouring rain. My feet were swimming in my boots. I saw one of the Fila-Mentos skaters balance on one foot to tip his other foot back and pour water out from the heel. After ten solid minutes of pouring, the shower decreased to light rain which stayed with us until the end of the race.

Chase Pack

One by one the pack picked up new members who had fallen off from the lead pack until we had between 10-12 skaters. It was very organized pulling with a smooth pace, and I had a chance to enjoy the view for the first time.

We were traveling on smooth pavement through farmland with green fenced fields on all

sides and cows grazing. Every 15 to 20 kilometers, we passed would pass through a small town, and though it was raining there were spectators along the road yelling "hopp, hopp!" as we passed.

The course moved from small country roads, not much bigger than bike paths, to larger roads through the towns, and there were a lot of 90-degree corners that we took at high speed, sometimes sliding. One of the Fila-Mentos skaters slid into the grass on a sharp corner but was able to run a few paces at 20-plus mph and jump back onto the pavement.

20 Ks Up

As promised, the final 20k was all uphill. After passing the 20K sign, there was a steep uphill section, and the road was covered with foot-wide tar snakes that were very slick from the rain. I thought, if the next 20K is like this, I am not going to make it. But after a few minutes, the road settled into a gentle incline.

With about 15K to go, I tested the pack on another steep section, and was able to easily pull away. But I didn't have the endurance to solo the rest of the race, so I pretended to be winded, stretched my legs, and settled back into the pack.

With 2k to go, we reached a long steep hill entering St. Gallen, and I made my move and pulled away from the pack. Only one skater was able to keep up. But I underestimated the length of the hill, and he pulled out of my draft and left me about halfway up. By the top, I was spent and two other skaters from the pack caught me. The road was narrow and I made my stroke wide so they would have to slow to pass me, and then I jumped in behind them.

We stayed fairly close until 500m until the finish, when we each took a different line, although we didn't start sprinting yet.

We had to jump over a median that was paved with slick cobblestones, and I almost lost it there, but caught my balance and kept going.

Nearing the finish we entered a covered garage area paved with smooth concrete, and I wanted to sprint there, but my wheels wouldn't grip. We started sprinting with the finish in sight.

I was able to out-sprint one of my two competitors. We glided through the empty finish line without any fanfare. The spectators were all behind a fence and underneath cover a few yards away. My finishing time was 3:28.15, and I was 22nd place.

I congratulated the guys I finished with and hobbled over to the first aid booth to get my leg patched up. They told me to shower first, as my leg was covered in dirt, and I left for my hotel. My back was incredibly sore at this point, I don't think it had ever been this sore before. Now that I wasn't concentrating

on the race, every movement was painful, and getting back into my room was a big effort. I tried to stretch, but was limited in what I could do, so just decided to shower. I wanted to eat and start to clean my skates, but all I could do was just lie down, and I lay in bed for an hour and a half, until I was able to sit up.

After I was able to move again, I grabbed some food and headed back to the Olma center for the awards. Not able to understand German, and not seeing the results yet, I had no idea what was going on during the ceremony, so I went to the first aid booth to get patched up. The staff there were very friendly, and knowing that I was traveling, gave me all the gear I would need to tend to my knee during my trip.

Overall, the race was an awesome experience, and I will be racing it again, hopefully next year. Because of the rain and my back, I wasn't able to explore St. Gallen very much, but everyone I talked to there was very friendly.

Anyone who likes the ultra-distance events should consider traveling to this race, make it part of a European vacation.

Back to Part 1

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(Posted on Aug. 23, 2005)

Related reading

Inline One-Eleven

Top Finishers:

1. Iten Nicolas, Fila Mentos Team 3:19.05.95

2. Loy Tristan, Inline St.Gallen Speed 3:19.12,71

3. Christen Marc, Bont International, 3:19.21.46

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