Try Skating and get Scotland rolling

BERLIN MARATHON

This month's newsletter is dedicated entirely to the BERLIN MARATHON.

Berlin logo

Why you may ask. Well it is the Blue Riband event of the European skating calendar and this year featured local skaters who have responded to requests to relive their experience for the benefit of newsletter readers. This may tempt you to have a go at one of the world's best city skate marathons.

# Here's some Berlin stats

  • Start/Finish beside the Brandenburg Gate.
  • Weather conditions near perfect.
  • 7,500 inline skaters at the start.
  • Ability level - Elite skaters to near beginners.
  • Fastest marathon skater 1hour 2mins.
  • Slowest marathon skater nearly 3 hours.
  • Here's the course round the city.
  • Flat with smooth surfaces.
  • Thousands of spectators.
  • Very well organised event.

On race day the morning is devoted to organising "pacelines" and the afternoon is when the actual race takes place. Find out more about "pacelines" and read Silke's experience of them at the Berlin marathon.

Myself Silke Marcello

Don, Silke, Marcello

Silke's Race

We all met up again 30mins before the start at 3.30pm.. We got into our starter block area and as the start approached we were trying to sort out our formation. I actually ended up in 2nd position just behind the leading guide. Perfect! I could even still see some of the road in front of me, which helps to reduce the risk of falls.

Experts

The Experts-on-Speed

Don was right behind me and off we went. What came were the craziest 5K I have ever skated. There was a lot of pushing and crossing of all the other skaters around us that I just tried to hang on to the leading guide who was trying to get us out of this crowd and into a bit more space. After the first sharp right bend we had lost 2 people to falls and the group had already divided itself into 6 at the front and the rest had split into 2 other groups.

I was still in 2nd position where I stayed most of the time able to copy the guide's rhythm perfectly. The rest were happy in their positions so we did not change much until half way point when we noticed we were actually going much faster. We crossed the HW point at 49mins! Our guide was getting tired and we took turns at the front and I was still feeling great. When I was at the front I was actually ordered to slow down as we were loosing a couple of people. This kept happening, some getting tired, wanting to slow down a bit, the rest still feeling strong. When I was back in 2nd position the 3rd guy kept loosing contact so I stretched my arm backwards a lot to pull him in again. I was so enjoying the skate that it is very difficult to describe. The speed, the excitement, the concentration, and all that in glorious sunshine feeling the wind in your face.

Berlin marathon pic

The decision was made to stay in this smaller group even if we had to slow down a bit but we knew the time would be good anyway. And this is what it is about. You work together in your group and benefit from each other. The group at the start had been too big and inhomogeneous (oh gosh!) to get this group feeling but the six of us at the front had now worked together since the start. So we finished it together and I just could not believe my time. It still seems like a dream! What an experience! Well worth repeating!

Marcello from Lochwinnoch. If you don't know Marcello think speed machine. Completed the course in 1 hour 33 mins. This is fast on skates. He tells you what it's like from the front!

Last Saturday we took part in Berlin Skate Marathon which is the biggest of its kind and the final for the world's inline championships. More than 7,500 Inline-Skaters created an amazing spectacle on wheels. Sunny skies, 200,000 spectators (are you sure Marcello?) along the 26M/46K route with the highlight racing through the Brandenburg Gate towards the finish line making it an unforgettable weekend.

Experts 2

After having such a good time in my first experience at this type of event, in the Cologne Skate Marathon last year, Don, Silke and I decided to sign up for this years Berlin Marathon. We also joined the same pace team as last year, Experts-in-Speed, which means you are part of a paceline with a certain time to aim for and share the pain of being at the front of the pack.

After a year of hard training and a steep learning curve I managed to improve my time from 2h 04m to 1h 33m. Although last year's race was in the rain I am really happy with the time and really looking forward to start skating straight away to prepare for next year to get closer to the guys at the front of the amateur pack who skate round in 1hr 15mins. I would recommend anybody, at any level, to join us next year and have lots of fun and a massive adrenaline rush and a sense of achievement crossing the finish line.

Marcelo

Newbie going for a medal

I used to do ice skating and some old-style roller skating as a kid, always kind of thought it to be a children's activity where I would be too grown up for. At the start of the year I went to a few skate-meetings (some indoors where I could practise a bit of braking and turning) with a friend of mine and started to enjoy it. It's close to a cycle path from my house so there was a good opportunity for training there as well. Then my friend suggested to do the Berlin inline skate marathon. I'm from Berlin originally and was tempted straight away. So I signed up and thought of it as a fun thing to do, not being too serious about it. All I wanted to achieve is getting round the course in one piece and enjoy the atmosphere. The one problem is the Scottish weather in the summer - rain! I went with far less training than I originally planned and was a bit worried but being reasonably fit I didn't think it was a problem.

Howie

Howie Wylie in action

The event itself was marvellous! 7500 skaters in the city and the weather and organisation was top-notch. Once I rolled over the start line most of my relaxed attitude went and I just thought about keeping up with the fastest pace lines I could manage. I soon realised that I might have started too fast and had to cut back a bit and once I found my rhythm I started to really enjoy it. Most people seemed to have a good understanding of skating pacelines, which I didn't have too much. Nothing to worry about though because I could either join a paceline (drafting) or drop out and skate myself when my concentration went. There were a few crashes on the way but luckily nothing involving me. After about half way the lack of training started to haunt me but when I looked around I saw so many skaters who looked far more worn out than me but kept going and that really helped me.

The highlight really was rolling through the Brandenburg Gate and finishing with the stands at the road side and thousands of people cheering you! The free massage after the race was a life-saver (or in my case back-saver).

  • Would I recommend it? Yes, this must be the best marathon event ever!
  • What would I do differently next time? More training and core exercises - and a better time on the day....

Howie Wylie

An exceptional feat by John Huyton

Goal Setting is it worth it?

It was about this time last year that Maria and I were in Berlin, very excited about the prospect of completing yet another running marathon, and in Berlin another one of the 5 majors to my tally.

2 medals

During registration we found it quite amusing the idea that people would be skating the marathon on the Saturday and we would be running on the Sunday. I honestly thought that inline skating was for the younger generation with pipe dreams on every town square.

It was only after sitting down for a coffee in a local bar on the Saturday, we realised we were in the vicinity of what is the 7 km marker, there seemed to be buzz of anticipation about the place and huge crowds gathering.

Then happened the moment that will change my life for good, the realisation that perception can cloud judgement, and what was funny the day before was a truly amazing site, the first group of skaters passed, such speed and grace thousands followed all shapes and sizes and we were mesmerised. We turned to each other and said "We have to be a part of that next year"

John medals

Johnnie-2-medals

I completed the running the marathon and as soon as we were back we were on the internet looking for support, lessons and ideas where to skate and train.

We found Don in November 2008 and believe me if it was not for the lessons we took during November and December and the advice that he and Lucy gave us we could not have contemplated this massive feet of completing a marathon on skates.

We registered for the Berlin inline marathon and I also registered for the running marathon as well in February. We trained always remembering something Don had said "that it's only practise and time on skates that is the difference between your skating and mine."

Maria took a fall in July and unfortunate had to pull out of the race.

I was so nervous on race day, what if I fall? , what if I am not quick enough? What if I look like a beginner? My concerns were short lived when we started to skate, the adrenalin was something else I had not experienced in any running race, as I had never gone that fast, I remember mostly during the race was doing cross over's on a 90 degree turn at 15 MPH, Lucy you would have been proud after teaching me that. I completed the race not in a great time, but great for me because I finished it. I skated a marathon on inline skates after only 8 months training. I ran the marathon the next day on the same course all I could remember was what excitement from the day before.

John Huyton

(Only 139 men & 24 women completed both marathons back-to-back. A fantastic achievement.)