French skater wins NorthShore Inline MarathonYann Guyader of Nantes, France, debuted with a victory in today's 16th NorthShore Inline Marathon, while American Briana Kramer repeated as women's champion
By: Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune
European champion Yann Guyader and American star Joey Mantia went head-to-head on skates Saturday morning as they’ve often done in 2011, including a confrontational meeting earlier this month in Yeosu, South Korea.
In this battle, Guyader was the victor by a wide margin in his debut in the 16th NorthShore Inline Marathon on a chilly morning along North Shore Drive from Two Harbors to Duluth. He had his Powerslide teammates pressed the pace early, sapping Mantia’s strength, and Guyader, 27, from Nantes, France, sped on to win the men’s elite race in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 33.1 seconds for 26.2 miles.
Mantia, 25, from Ocala, Fla., in his fifth NorthShore race, was second reaching the Harbor Drive finish alongside the William A. Irvin ore boat in 1:12:11. He was also second in 2007.
“Our plan was to attack, attack, attack and try to break away from Mantia,” said Guyader, who won the European marathon title Aug. 6 in Holland in 1:04:42. “We did that the first 10 miles and when I looked at Mantia, he looked tired and I said ‘Goodbye.’ ’’
Briana Kramer of Orlando, Fla., claimed a second straight NorthShore elite women’s title by edging high school freshman Janelle Cole of Rockford, Mich., by less than a second in 1:21:42.1. Cole, 14, was second in 1:21:42.5 after placing seventh last year. The elite winners earned $1,000 from a prize-money purse of $10,400.
There were 2,031 entries in the marathon a drop from last year’s total of 2,640. The accompanying half-marathon had 425 skaters and the first-year roller-ski marathon 57.
Guyader ranks No. 3 in the World Inline Cup marathon rankings and Mantia is No. 7. Mantia edged his opponent in a photo finish in the Incheon (South Korea) Marathon on May 29. At the World Roller Speed Skating Championships on Sept. 4 in South Korea, Guyader won the 10,000-meter race, then admits to giving Mantia a stiff arm coming through the final turn of the 20,000-meter race, which resulted in Guyader’s disqualification. Mantia finished third.
Mantia got into Duluth just after midnight Saturday morning, entered late and was given No. 888. As is his custom, he raced alone without the aid of teammates to share pace-setting duties.
“I did all I could, but realistically I wasn’t as prepared as I usually am,” said Mantia, America’s most decorated inline racer the past decade with 28 World Championships gold medals and the 2011 Chicagoland Marathon winner July 23. “This was my 10th World Championships and I found myself losing my drive. But after a race like this, I now have some motivation.”
Mantia, who won $700, was at the head of the chase group. Four racers finished within 2.2 seconds behind Guyader and 10 within 5.2 seconds. Felix Rijhnen, 21, of Germany was third in 1:12:12.7 and Juan Tobon, 26, of Colombia, the expected winner last year until falling in the rain on the final straightaway, was fourth in 1:12:12.8. Minnesota’s top racer, Colombian native David Sarmiento of Sleepy Eye, was seventh in 1:12:15.5.
The 5:38 margin of victory is believed to be the largest in race history, surpassing Diego Rosa’s win by 4:55 in 2007. Guyader, averaging 23.6 mph, became the second NorthShore men’s winner from France, following Baptiste Grandgirard in 2004.
Guyader likely would’ve been faster except his right skate frame became loose after hitting a hole on the North Shore. He skated the final 14 miles with a bent, loose frame, which aggravated his right leg. And there were the weather conditions: 30 degrees and calm for the 7:30 a.m. marathon start and 45 degrees, overcast skies and a 12 mph west wind by 9 a.m.
“There was a big headwind and it was freezing,” said Guyader, the World Inline Cup series winner in 2008 and 2010, and whose wife, Cecelia Baena, a native of Colombia, was the 2005 NorthShore women’s champion.
The women’s race came down to final stages with four skaters in contention. After coming up the I-35 exit ramp at Fifth Avenue West, as the course takes a sharp left turn downhill toward Amsoil Arena, Cole moved ahead and held the lead around the bayside of the DECC. Yet, after negotiating the final curve, she hit some loose gravel in the street and was overtaken.
“I was impressed by how strong Janelle (Cole) was; she just kept pushing the whole race. I started to think ‘I might get beat today,’ ’’ said Kramer, a 2014 U.S. Winter Olympic hopeful in speed skating. “For a while it felt like I had run out of gas and then some adrenaline came back. I knew I had a better sprint and, at the end, I was able to make a move.”
The top four finishers were less than three seconds apart with Morgan McKey, 14, of Grandville, Mich., third in 1:21:43.9 and Elizabeth White, 20, of Fort Wayne, Ind., fourth in 1:21:45. Kramer is 3-for-3 in marathons in 2011 with earlier victories in Chicagoland (1:24:38) and the Texas Road Rash Marathon (1:20:30) on April 17 in Round Rock, Texas (where Mantia won the men’s title).
Cole was also second to Kramer in Chicago.
“I would rather have cold weather than warm, so this was a great course and awesome weather, and Briana is great competition,” said Cole, a home-schooled high schooler. “When I slipped at the end, it wasn’t much, I lost a half-step, but that was all it took for Briana.”
Zephaneah Akana, 18, of Couderay, Wis., was the top finisher from the area, placing seventh in the women’s division in 1:24:11.7 after finishing sixth last year.