Inline SkaterInline Skating Resource Center
Complete Information on the World of Inline Skating (Rollerblading TM)

homeresearch and resources > skating marathons


About Us
Skates and Gear
Learn & Improve
Places to Skate
Events and Clubs
Tours & Travel
National Skate Patrol
Research & Resources
Laws and Advocacy
Trade & Industry
Contact Us


Marathons Sweeping the Skating World

By Zephyr Inline Skate Tours owner Allan Wright. Originally written for in 2003.

Inline 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.

It 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 anywhere.  Soon 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.

Perhaps 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.

Of 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 achievement.  Now, 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 running marathons.”

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 Berlin 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 March.

There is even a new website devoted to online marathon training.  Zephyr’s 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, Pari Rollers.

Inline Skating Resource Center