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Old July 17th, 2007, 03:08 AM   #33
The Major
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Thought you might find this interesting. This is from Cale Carvell of the Flying Fossils and Team Rainbo:

Bonjour! Monsior Cale here with a report from the pain train that was the Montreal 24 hour marathon. The experience began when Margo, Jan, Tom G., and I landed in beautiful Montreal, Canada. The Canadian version of France, where all the signs are in French, most the people speak only French, and finding your way around is no easy project. We did, however, with our rent a car, find our way to the hotel and did some shopping for the experience that was to follow. With much excitement and some apprehension, and after getting lost first, we made our way to the Formula one race track where the race was to begin at PM. We separated as I found my "Flying Fossil" teammates while Jan, Tom, and Margo went to find there team "Skate". From hear on out you will be reading about the Flying Fossils and my experience as part of this team of old farts all of who were 55 and over. Our median age was 58. After setting up our paddock ( basically a 20 X 20 ft covered area) with water, coolers, chairs, tables, food, extra clothes, air mattresses, and skate supplies, and being sure we all had our Flomax, denture creams, glasses, hearing aids, Depends and other personal supplies, we had our strategy meeting. The race was to begin at PM and we decided that each skater would skate one lap (3 miles), and then hand the baton off to the next skater and continue like that until 10pm when we would split into two teams of 5 and let one team sleep from 10pm-2am and then switch with the others who could then sleep from 2am-6am and then we would all regroup to finish from 6am til the finish of the race at PM.
The course was a 3 mile circuit with numerous turns, one very gradual up hill, a long gradual down hill and a hairpin right turn that led into a 1 mile straight away that finished in front of the paddocks where everyone had to pass off there baton to the next skater. Many teams had many different strategies as to how to best do this for 24 hours. There were no rules about how many laps anyone had to skate in a row or in total.
The excitement was growing while the music was blaring and the announcer was yapping and yapping about who knows what, because most of it was in French. Everyone was in high spirits, full of energy and ready to go. All 800 skaters, together, did a slow skate around the circuit while the official stopped us at certain places to say something in French and then in some form of English that was impossible to understand.
Finally the countdown began 5..4..3..2..1.....And each teams first skater was off. Alan Marcossan was our first skater with me being second. The first few hours were nothing but fun with everyone sharing their lap stories and talking about the laps to come. We had a few problems with some of the passes, a few dropped batons, but we got it down pretty good. We were at the end of the hand off lanes which were only wide enough for two skaters to be side by side. It was often hard to see your teammate through the maze of skaters, so getting started on each lap could be quite an adventure. Alan and I were doing laps in the 8min 35-45 sec level and our teammates were in the 9 to 10 minute time frame unless you were lucky enough to be able to draft with someone who was a little better than you, which was rare. I was lucky enough to have jumped on a pro team and had our fastest lap (just under 8 min) All was going pretty well until about 6 PM when, wouldn't you know it, the forecasted scattered showers began scattering on us, and the wind started howling. The track got slippery, the times got slower, the rain stopped, things dried up, the rain came back, things dried up, and back it came again. It was getting pretty ugly trying to keep the wheels rolling, dealing with being soaked constantly, putting on saturated skates and then it got dark. To say the least, visibility was terrible. They had some portable spotlights out in a few areas of the track, but it was just barely enough to see where you were skating. Lots of people wore head lights on their headlights, but I decided that it wasn't worth the hassle. Because it was so dark at the hand off area, many skaters wore blinking lights, so the person they were handing off to could tell it was their teammate as they came in to hand off. There were so many different types of blinking lights, ropes, flashers, on bodies, skates, helmets etc, that it seemed like Christmas in July. Finally the rain stopped around 10pm
We were running in third place 2 laps behind a french Canadian racing club team when 10pm rolled around and it was time for the first group to sleep. I was in the first group and I tried, really I tried, but after a 45 minute kind of half conscious nap in a chair, it was hopeless. The adrenaline, red bull, gels, sport drinks and Snickers were to much to overcome so I announced that since I was skating some of the fastest lap times and I felt good, there was no reason for me to not continue. I would replace one of our team and wake him up after 4 hours if I needed to sleep. So now I was skating every 5th lap starting around 11:30pm. Of course as soon as I started, the real rain began. For the rest of the night, it rained steadily and as the laps piled up the uphill got steeper, the downhill got shorter and the wind, which blew right in your face as you rounded the hairpin turn for the 1 mile home, blew harder. Fatigue began to settled in and the old guys bones were creeping, but we kept up the pace. For some reason, as the night ground on, I actually began feeling better and better and when it was time to wake up the other 5 guys, we only woke up 1 and I just kept on skating. From 11:30pm til 6am, I skated every 5th lap. By 6am when everyone was up again, we had moved up to 2nd place only a lap and a half down from the "Rapid Lap Dogs" (How's that for a name).
Now you haven't lived until you see bunch of exhausted old guys wake up after not enough sleep and have to get it together to skate as hard as they can. The creaking bones, gas noises, various smells, moaning and groaning were an experience I wouldn't wish on anyone but us. Our spirits were high, however, and after a little while, we were excited, and the adrenalin was doing its thing. I had however had no sleep and was starting to feel the effects, however I'd be damned if I was going to admit it. I figured that as long as I did not sit down for long, I could keep going. The rain had stopped and the course dried up and the sun came out and I almost broke out in a song. We all kept hammering as hard as we could, we kept our lap times up as high as we had, and we were closing in on the Lap Dogs.
As the 1pm finishing time got closer, the spirit at the race was electric. All the pain, all the struggles, all the effort was coming to an end. Everyone cheered for every skater as the finished their last laps. The air was alive with good feelings, camaraderie, sense of accomplishment, joy, and friendly competition. There was no controversy, no arguments, everyone helped each other, and the compliments were many. No one left the starting line until every skater finished their last lap. We could not catch up and we finished 2nd, but it didn't matter as we gave it everything we had and really put a scare into a much younger group of quality skaters. The were thrilled with the competition and admitted that we had them seriously worried and forced them push themselves as hard as possible. The Canadian team that we passed congratulated us in broken English and hugged us and it truly was a Hallmark moment.
I know that this has been long, but so was the race. I could go on forever about each lap I did. I have never pushed myself any harder, or skated any better than at this event. The experience was something that I hope to do again and would challenge any of you to participate in. Their were skaters of every conceivable level who all had one common goal. Their were even skaters who did the entire 24 hours ALONE.....Unbelievable. Thanks to my teammates Alan Marcosson,Larry Griffin, Peter Moynihan,Ken Huss, Ed Duncan, Bob Harwell, Robert Stroud, John Altwater, and Stephen Fischer (our Captain who had the idea...thanks for calling me. The accomplishment was exhilarating and my teammates and I have a bond that will never disappear, even when we race against each other................Cale "Team Rainbo and a Flying Fossil too" Carvell
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