The biggest inline-skate marathon in Europe is underway : 9,612 competitors set
off in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in their quest to break the hour in
Berlin. Conditions were good with little wind, sunny but under 20 degrees
Fahrenheit. That?s also a good omen for Sunday?s marathon.
As the final event in this season`s World Cup, there`s extra special
interest in this year`s race. All the strong teams are here, especially the
trio of Salomon, including the Italian Massimiliano Presti, Hyper Race Team
with the multiple world champion Chad Hedrick from the USA and the powerful
5 km: they`ve started at a fast tempo, the leading skaters in a big group of
around 120 with the top women 100 metres behind. Though this is a new course,
it should be just as fast as before. Traditionally the first half is slower
because there are more corners in the opening section.
A group of six make an attack but it doesn`t succeed. The high quality field
may mean that early attacks don`t come off.
In pre-race tactics, each team will have decided who their strongest
competitor is and work for that skater, similar to cycling tactics. In the
Salomon team, the talk was of working in support of the Frenchman Pascal
The pace remains fast, many spectators gathered on the Reinhardt bridge by
the Reichstag to watch the leaders race by. The gap between the lead pack and
the rest is growing.
The tempo is maintaining Berlin`s reputation as the fastest inline skate
marathon in Europe. Italian Massimiliano Presti from the Salomon team said that
when he first skated Berlin, he didn`t even notice the remnants of the Wall, so
fast was the speed of the lead group.
16 km : Juan Carlos Betancur wearing the number T1 leads, the Colombian won
last year but is advantage is only a few metres.
Race leader Betancur is from the Salomon team, one of the strongest in the
race. But team tactics for all the six-man squads should ensure that each takes
a turn at the front, though the favourite will spend less time at the front,
conserving energy for the final attack.
Approaching Kreuzberg and the pace remains relentlessly high, still the
Salomon team well to the fore.
21 km : 30.47 and the record attempt to beat the hour is definitely on! The
second half of the race is always faster.
Another of the top names is the Frenchman Baptiste Grandgirard from the Fila
team. He`s showing good form as they reach the Schöneberg district.
The course is packed with spectators. There`s a special thrill to see the
packs of skaters taking corners at high speeds. The man with the technique to
watch is the American Chad Hedrick of the Hyper Race Team : his unique style,
driving off from both feet simultaneously, is reckoned to be the recipe for
success. But his Colombian team-mate Diego Rosero is world champion at the
longer distances, and this is a marathon, after all!
28 km : course record holder Tristan Loy from France is attacking as they
pass one of the areas of the race noted for its party atmosphere : the
"Wilder Eber" and heading towards Wilmersdorf.
The leading teams are taking turns to force the pace. Tristan Loy as course
record holder continues to be prominent. All the signs are that the teams have
planned to break the hour-mark.
The pace remains high with the leading group some 80 metres in front as they
head back to the Schöneberg district.
34 km : Tristan Loy`s attacks so far have been countered by others in the
lead group. The French course record holder hasn`t been able to break away. The
lead is changing hands rapidly.
Fans line the streets of Wilmersdorf, urging the skaters on towards 40 km
and the attack on the course record.
It`s looking like the race will be decided on a mighty sprint at the
The race is taking a more tactical turn rather than an all-out speed attack.
That may put the course record attempt in doubt, but there should be a
thrilling finish all the same. The leaders are threading out in single file,
going from one side of the road to the other. Projected finish time now looks
more like around 62 minutes.
The leaders are getting ready for a last sprint, the pack is big, between 60
to 70 at 40 km.
Catching up with the women`s race, the lead group at half-way was 38-strong,
led bz the course record Angele Vaudan from France. She and the Colombian
Silvia Nino took them through in 35.21.
Men`s champion is Juan Carlos Betancur for the Salomon team, the Colombian
repeating his success of 2002 with a win in the unofficial time of 61:50.
Betancur as Real-Berlin champion in 2003 and 2002 makes inline skating
history : the first man to retain the title.
Correction to the winning time : 62.05 gave Juan Carlos Betancur of Colombia
a record second Real-Berlin victory in succession for the Salomon team.
Men`s Results - Top 10 ======================
1. Juan Carlos Betancur (Colombia) - Saab Salomon World Team - 1:02:03 2.
Massimiliano Presti (Italy) - Saab Salomon World Team - same time 3. Diego
Rosero (Colombia) - Hyper Race Team - same time 4. Chad Hedrick (USA) - Hyper
Race Team - same time 5. 6. Luca Presti (Italy) - Saab Salomon World Team -
same time 7. Pier-Davide Romani (Italy) - Saab Salomon World Team - same time
8. Franck Cardin (France) - Saab Salomon World Team - same time 9. Pascal
Briand (France) - Saab Salomon World Team - same time 10. Nikolay Lerga (Spain)
- Roces International - 1:02.04
Julie Glass achieves a fine win, the most important of her career so far. A
fitting climax to her performance, since in the press conference on the eve of
the race, she said she was proud to take part in the world`s biggest inline
skate marathon. She began skating in 1989 but switched to inline 11 years
Women`s Results ================ 1. Julie Glass (USA) - Verducci
International - 1:11.28 2. Jessica Smith (USA) - Verducci International - same
time 3. Laura Lardani (Italy) Rollerbalde World Team - same time 4. Theresa
Cliff (USA)- Verducci International - same time
A clean sweep for the USA as Julie Glass leads them home in the women`s
race. Her Verducci team-mate Jessica Smith was runner-up with Theresa Cliff
completing the triple success for Verducci. Fourth place went to Laura Lardani
of Italy for the Rollerblade World Team.
The new women`s champion Julie Glass has chosen a good name for home : she
lives in Olympia in Washington! Winner of the Hamburg inline marathon in 2001,
the 24-year-old is coached by her father Doug. Other career honours include
twice winning the Paris marathon, 2000 and 2001 while taking a World Cup gold
medal in Bogota, Colombia in 1997. Her powers of endurance were rewarded with
the New York 100 km title three years ago.