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Nearly 140 skaters start off in the Napa Valley Inline Marathon Sunday morning. The 26.2 mile course consists of two laps from Silver Rose Winery to Glass Mountain Road and back on the Silverado Trail.

Photo by Andrea Roth/Register

The fastest folks on eight wheels rolled Upvalley during inline marathon

Monday, August 8, 2005

Register Managing Editor

At around 7:30 Sunday morning, a resident of Bale Lane north of St. Helena came upon an unusual site as he padded outside in his red bathrobe to the corner of Silverado Trail.

About 140 inline skaters were quickly snaking south on the Trail during the first lap of the Napa Valley In-line Marathon. Clusters of riders - legs swinging wide like cross-country skiers while their hands were clasped neatly behind their back - raced from Calistoga to Deer Park Road and back on a crystal clear morning.Berkeley resident Louis Beaudoin, 24, was the winner, finishing the 26.2-mile race in 1:18:20, slightly faster than three minutes a mile.

Beaudoin, an electrical engineer when he isn't putting in four-hour training skates through the Berkeley hills, seemed pumped to finish first.There are a lot of top riders here," said a smiling Beaudoin, who added that others set a fast pace in the first 13-mile lap. He credited his opening for a win to Eddie Metzger, a favorite to win the race who Beaudoin said "kept the pack back" as Beaudoin rolled north toward the finish line, where the Trail meets Rosedale Road.

When Metzger arrived a few minutes later, he whooped in celebration of Beaudoin's win and said he wasn't trying to keep anybody back. "I was just tired."

Beaudoin's win will help him gear up for a 111-kiometer race in Switzerland later this summer.

The first woman to finish was Naomi Shechter, a veteran in-line racer and rower who came from New York City, where she uses Central Park as a training ground. She finished in 1:28:08, averaging one mile every three minutes and 25 seconds. Shechter and teammate Robert Brinken Jr. explained why they believe in-line skating is superior to running and cycling.

Brinken said in-line skating involves the same strategy as bike races like the Tour de France, though Shechter noted that one plus for skaters is that there is no "flying metal" when racers crash. Brinken said the competition requires athleticism and power, but also coordination and efficiency.Shechter boiled down the attraction to just a few words: "We like speed," she said.
San Francisco resident David Miles and his family, who operate as D.M.J. Inline Sports Marketing, put on the race each year.

Miles was rumbling ahead of the riders in a blue van, videotaping the action to burn on DVD and post on the Web.Miles' wife, Rose Miles, worked the finish line along with daughter Melanie, who was timing riders as they passed the final cones. Another daughter, Tiffany, was cranking up the barbecue at the site of the mid-day awards ceremony.
2005Napaskatepic.jpg (116795 bytes)Louis Beaudoin celebrates just before he crosses the finish line first in Sunday's Napa Valley Inline Marathon in Calistoga
Skating is in the blood for members of the Miles family. David and Rose met at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, where a cluster of skaters has gathered on Sundays for decades, skate-dancing to tunes played on a sound system set up for the cause.

Melanie, 20, competes in skate-dance competitions while Tiffany, 17, prefers to race. Rose Miles said Sunday's race attracted a few more riders than it did last year. She said the Napa Valley race is still overcoming a hangover from a few years ago, when promoters were not allowed to close a portion of Silverado Trail to traffic and racers went one way while cars went the other.

This year, the Trail was closed to traffic from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. The Miles family also puts on a race in Redwood City each year, as well as doing after-school programs, parties and more.

The race draws in-line fanatics from miles around. Bob Motta, 73, came from Monterey to Napa to race alongside his son. Motta said he has raced everywhere from Mexico and Ocho Rios, Jamaica, to Tahiti. He showed off a Tahitian tattoo to prove it, and was wearing a necklace with a skate pendant.

About a dozen of the racers chose to do the half-marathon. The men's winner in that category was Robert Brunson, who finished in 51:36. The first female half-marathon finisher was Jenifer Baldwin, a former Sonoma resident who has become a hard-core skater in her new home, Indian Wells. She finished in 57:25.

Still cooling down after the race, Baldwin summed up the highlights in clipped phrases that allowed her to regain her breath. "Loved it. Sunny. Gorgeous. Nice surface. Great to be out here with just skaters."

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