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In-line races draw local athletes

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The two largest in-line marathons held in the country aren't quite within skating distance, but they are close enough to attract plenty of Hudson participants.

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The fifth-annual St. Paul event, which typically draws almost 2,000 people, was last Saturday, and the older North Shore marathon in Duluth is set for Sept. 13.

"We had a great race this morning. The showers held off," said Mark Gherty of Hudson shortly after the St. Paul marathon. He started in "wave 5" and finished in 1:54:58.

Gherty also competed on June 28 in the Big Granite, a marathon held south of Ashland at Morengo. He participated in the Silver Strand Half-Marathon in San Diego in 2006 and 2007, as well.

You don't necessarily have to have ripped abs in order to compete, and half the draw is the fun, participants say.

The sport doesn't require the stamina of running a similar distance, and can be done by all ages and a variety of levels of fitness. However, competitors say they have to be in pretty good shape not to be exhausted for a couple of days afterward.

The in-line marathon covers 26.2 miles, the same as one that is jogged, and the St. Paul version starts near Shepard Road and winds around the immediate area in the city. The race is one of a handful in the upper Midwest.

The start of the race is done in waves of skaters, and has different classifications, based on level of expertise, that start several minutes apart. The class in which someone starts is based on their seed time, which is not hard to come by because almost any competitor has a race or two under their belt, even if they are largely as an amateur.

ESPN covered the event, and footage showed a range of levels of expertise. Some people drafted with swinging arms and legs and looked like figure skaters from the Olympics, and others went at a slower pace and had a more upright stance. The top athletes go about 35 mph and finish in about 70 minutes.

The best local finishes were by Nick Raven and Rick Raven, both in the top 50 after starting in wave 9 of the 10-mile tour, a fraction of a second apart at 1:02.51, and Patrick Stream, in 73rd in the full marathon with a 1:41:23.

These are the other Hudsonites in the St. Paul race: Ken LaRock, wave 2 (advanced male); Barb LaRock, wave 5 (open 1); Rebecca England, wave 6 (open 2); Jill Keller, wave 6 (open 2); Greg Young, wave 7 (open 3); and Jim Burns, wave 5 (open 1).

These additional Hudson athletes are already registered for Duluth: J. David Cumming, wave 1; Christine Ellertson, wave 7; Martin Furlong, wave 1; Peter Heimdahl, wave 5; Andrea Jorgenson, wave 7; Jonathan Jorgenson, wave 7; Robert Linder, wave 5; Diana McCollum, wave 2; Michael McCollum, wave 2; Angela Olson, wave 9; Karl Olson, wave 9; Jeffrey Peters, wave 3; and Michael Streed, wave 1.

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