Sweeping the Skating World
Inline Skate Tours owner Allan Wright. Originally written for
Skating.com in 2003.
skating marathons seem to be taking over from night skates and the
Paris Friday Night Fever as the biggest craze in
the skating world. Growing
from an arcane aspect of the sport a few years ago, marathons are now
the key ingredient in the pro skating circuit and draw thousands of
recreational skaters to their starting lines.
“Inline marathons provide an
achievable, positive experience for inline skaters”,
enthuses Kalinda Mathis, director of the International Inline Skating
Association. “We get calls every month from cities that
are trying to get an inline event off the ground”, says Northshore Inline
Marathon Race Director Chuck Carlberg.
wasn’t always this way. A
few years ago, pros were mainly skating short distances and the
Northshore Marathon was the only event drawing over 1000 skaters
thereafter, Coni Altherr of the Iguana Think Tank in Switzerland
started the Swiss
Inline Cup (SIC), the first professional skating circuit. The SIC was incredibly
successful at drawing both the pros and recreational skaters, providing
the model for marathons to come.
the real model for inline skating marathons, however, comes from the
running world. Before Jim Fixx wrote his “The Complete Book of Running”
in 1979, the running world was mostly reserved for fitness enthusiasts
– known as nuts to the rest of us.
However, with Fixx’s groundbreaking
book, regular Janes and Joes all over the world took up running as a
great form of exercise.
course, the marathon distance (26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers) was still
reserved for nuts. In
the 1980s, this changed as well. Marathon
participation rates started to rise.
In the 1990s, this trend increased and
everyday runners started looking to the marathon for motivation and
every city in America and Europe has a running marathon and the largest
events draw 30,000 runners every year.
“The running marathon scene has changed
significantly over the past 5-10 years from events that cater
to the elite competitive athlete event to events that
incorporate first time marathoners who participate
in citizen marathon training programs”, explains
the IISA’s Mathis. “Because inline marathon skating takes less
than half the time to train for and half the time to complete, skaters
can participate in several marathons a year and we think inline
marathons could grow as large and be as broadly available as are
That future might not be that far
off. The World Inline Cup,
now run by the Swiss Inline Cup’s Altherr, has a total of 30 marathons
on its 2003 circuit. The
Northshore Marathon in Duluth will attract 5,000 skaters this year. The
Marathon is expected to attract 12,000 recreational skaters
to its September event. And
the new Disney Marathon sold out weeks before its event date this past
There is even a new website devoted
to online marathon training. Zephyr’s
MarathonSkating.com started just a few weeks ago and is
already the Official Training Program for both the Northshore Marathon
in Duluth, Minnesota and the Cactus Classic
Marathon in Tucson, Arizona. Organized by Zephyr Inline Skate Tours,
the site offers general information on marathons, a Top 10 list of US
marathons, a six-week online training program hosted by various
experts, and a Marathon Weekend Package to the Tucson event. It even offers advice on
how to be a spectator at a marathon!
Marathon skating seems to be here to
stay. Watch out,