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Save the Date September 29th 2019
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Bitten by the Marathon bug

by Mike Saft

30th September 2001. The marathon inline skaters are meeting in Berlin to

make their 42.195 kilometre sightseeing tour of the German capital for the

fifth time. That’s how it was for most of the 6,000 starters allowed by

the organisers, SCC. They had had to decide fast, because more people wanted to

start than there were places. As it turned out the SCC’s decision was the

right one.

8:00 am. It’s cloudy, but the streets are dry. The skaters begin to

join their starting groups and hope that it’s not going to rain. Last

year a wet stretch of road along Strasse des 17. Juni was enough to foil the

attempt to break the one-hour record by a whisker. But this year the

professional teams from FILA, Rollerblades, Salomon, Tecnica and Verducci

aren’t just after Grand Prix points, but should be able to break the

one-hour record because the route has been changed so it’s faster. Could

that happen anywhere else than Berlin? But that’s not what Frank Drubba,

a Hohenschönhausen car salesman’s thinking as he pins his bib

number, T2454, onto his vest. He says goodbye to his son, Markus, who, with a

marathon best time of 1hr 10 mins, is starting in a group further in front.

After 6 weeks’ training the aim is to finish – and even if it took

2 hours, it would be fine.

8:25 am. Dr. Heepe, who is in charge of the medical side of the marathon,

reminds the skaters once again how important it is to keep calm and disciplined

during the start, and then the professional teams are off. They are followed,

one after another, by the other groups and soon everyone – including

Frank Drubba – has started without any major upsets.

Up ahead, the teams eye each other suspiciously. No-one wants to waste too

much energy that might be needed later along Kurfürstendamm, but the teams

are probing each other. After 15 kilometres Tristan Loy (Salomon) Jorge Botero

(Rollerblade Worldteam) and Luca Crevenna (Fila) are up to 20 seconds ahead of

the rest of the field, which is in hot pursuit. The Italian, Luca Crevenna,

drops out of the leading trio but his team-mates manage to catch up with the

two remaining leaders at kilometre 36.

At the same time, most of the inline skaters are enjoying their trip on four

or five rollers along the marathon route. They are watched by the spectators

who turn up whenever it’s marathon time in Berlin. This time there are

hundreds of them crowding together at Potsdamer Platz, which is part of the

route for the first time since its completion. Frank Drubba is thinking of his

timetable and the training laps he did round car parks in or near Berlin after

work. Inline skating is a sport that’s booming, which is evident not just

from the numbers of starters in the big city marathons in Hamburg, Cologne or

Frankfurt, but from steadily increasing performance levels.

The thousands of spectators lining Kurfürstendamm to KaDeWe are able to

enjoy an impressive mass sprint of the leading bunch with 61 skaters crossing

the finishing line within 6.8 seconds. The photo-finish shows the victor with a

time of 1 hr 4 mins 17 sec to be Arnaud Gicquel of the Rollerblade Worldteam,

followed by his compatriot Baptiste Grandgirard (FILA) and the Italian

Massimiliano Presti (Verducci) – the winner of the Hamburg Marathon in

April. Finishing fifth was Christoph Zschätsch, the best German. Of the

women, the Spaniard Sheila Herrero, who put up a tremendous performance in this

year’s French world championships, finished in 1 hr 12 mins 25 secs,

ahead of the French marathon champion Angéle Vaudan and the American

Jessica Smith. Anne Titze-Göhl, in sixth place, once again showed herself

to be an exceptional German skater.

The winners are already showering or being massaged as hobby skater Frank

Drubba finishes 1 hr 48 mins 9 secs into the race. He’s completed his

first marathon, he’s beaten his own target time handsomely, and

he’s not fallen. Already, he’s happily looking forward to 2002. Of

course he will be competing again. The first thing to do is to fill in the

Berlin TSC club’s application form. He knows that training with friends

means learning from them too, and the best place for that is in a club.

11:10 am. The first runners are arriving, being cheered home by the

finishers of the 5th Berlin Inline Marathon.

 

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