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Old June 17th, 2013, 09:33 PM   #51
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,000

Apostle is hands down, in my opinion, the best course and maybe the best race in the country. It's hard to say "best race" because so much of that depends on the competion...and, in that regard, it's tough to beat Duluth. The only thing I don't understand about Apostle is the "finish." In some ways, it makes the race a lot more exciting. That last 90-degree turn is so technical that you really have to prepare and position yourself well in advance. In other ways though, I think the finish creates too much uncertainty and even danger. I heard from a couple specators that the pro/advance group hit the final turn at 28+ mph. There is so little room for error and that's a lot of speed for a pack of skaters to carry into a short finishing area. It probably wouldn't change much, in terms of results, but I really wish they would figure out a better spot for the finish. If the pavement would have been wet, that last turn would have led to a lot of falls...and even worse, if skaters start falling in that spot, most likely, they are on a direct collision course into a pack of specatators. I just think it's dangerous and unncessary.

In terms of the race, it was a lot of fun. I actually didn't think the pace was that fast. I think part of the reason (I felt that way) is because the pace stayed pretty consistent (thanks to Paul). It's much easier to skate at 23 or 24 mph (for five or six miles), then to skate at 27 for a 1/2 mile, back down to 21 and 22, and then back up to 27 and 28. I think we were cruising along at 23 or 24 for seven or eight miles, if not more.

In terms of myself, I left the race full of regrets. Of all the races in the country, I feel like Apostle is one of the courses that best suit my ability. There is a lot of opportunity for attacks and breakaways. Chicago is a tough course to get away on, and Duluth is just too fast to do anything else besides try to hang out. But, Apostle and Minnesota 1/2 seem like courses where a small group of skaters could get away. But, the races never seem to end up like that (unless you have World Class guys like Joey or Justin). Most of the pro group is pretty even, with the exception of sprinting. So, it's really hard for one or two guys to be that much stronger than everyone else. I just personally felt that I had too much energy left after the race, which is never a good feeling if you finished in the back of the pack. At the very least, I wish I would have worked to a point of bonking versus playing it safe and conserving energy.

The top group of guys (Rob, Paul, John, Hernan) deserve a lot of credit because it's not an easy finish, even for sprinters. You really have to be extremely precise with your tactics going into the last 1/2 mile or so.
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