For Newton it may have been ‘that’ apple, but for our own Dr climate the heat was on at the Big Apple – when he took part in the 2007 New York 100K skate marathon…
::: Finding myself in the US while my skate mates were doing marathons across Europe, I came down with a severe case of marathon-envy. The solution to this soon became obvious when I discovered that I would be in New York city the same weekend as the NYC skate marathon and New York 100k. The 100k race offered the chance to pack two and a half marathons into one and thus seemed the value for time and money event.
Let’s quickly get the usual disclaimers over and note that I had not trained for a 100k race, nor had I spent much time on skates this year.
Since I was on holidays and enjoying the moments, I could happily forget about all preparation for the race until race eve. I stayed with mates in Brooklyn who just happened to live two blocks from Prospect Park, where the race takes place. That meant I could skate to the start and try out the new blister-protector sock inserts that Yaki put me on to. They seemed okay.
The circuit in Prospect Park is excellent. The surface is smooth and wide. The inner lanes are given over to the normal park rec users and the races use the outer lanes. From the perspective of a Melbourne flatland skater, the course has one major uphill, a few undulations, and one major downhill section. The 100k race runs simultaneously with marathon and half marathon races around the 5k circuit. On a sunny autumn day, such as we had, the atmosphere in the park is carnival-like, with a stream of bikers and runners as well as the few hundred skate racers.
The 100k start offered the thrill of skating off with the main pack until the first hill kicked in. That immediately separated the elite skaters from the rest of us. By the top of the hill I found myself in a ‘train’ of about eight skaters. We stuck together for about the first 20k before I got dropped. The rest of the race was a more solitary affair for me, apart from a few laps with Olivier and a couple with a Vermont club skater. The downhill sections were also a bit of a thrill for me. Our train accelerated at the crest of the down, tucked into a single long formation, hand to hip, and then just seemed to accelerate without limit. As a flatland skater, I don’t think I’ve ever been so fast on skates.
The uphill was another matter. My Vermont companion described it as a love/hate thing, but he lied; there was nothing to love about it. With each passing lap it grinds more of the life out of you.
My only relief was the fact that the blister protectors were killing my feet and I had to stop and take my skates off and rip them off. That gave me a five minute rest in the middle of the race. (not my ankles in the pic, but you get the idea)
Since I forgot to bring any food, my only option was the bananas handed out at the food and drink station. Bananas are great, but I consumed eight of them over the course of the race and haven’t wanted to look at another one since. One of the food drop guys was taunting me with another banana offer as I skated off home after the race, so my banana consumption must have stood out.
My pacing over the distance was woeful. I skated the first 42k in about the same time as I would usually skate a marathon, and died in the tail thereafter. For next time, better pacing and a bit of endurance training are needed. My recovery wasn’t textbook either. I skated back to the mate’s place, had a shower, threw my things together, caught a taxi to the airport, then sat on a plane with my legs immobile for the next 24 hours.
All in all, it’s a great race though and I’ll do it again as soon as I forget those pledges I made to myself during the last 50km not to do this race again.