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Old August 30th, 2018, 11:58 PM   #1
bjvircks
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Default headcount for NSIM '18

well... here we are, 2 weeks away from Northshore and here is what I glean from the registration list captured today.

marathon elite....68
marathon..........837
half marathon...244
combined...........23
rollerski.............39


total on skates.....1172 (yikes!)

total 'rolling'........1211
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Old August 31st, 2018, 07:38 AM   #2
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I've heard lots of complaints about the high registration fee for the elite categories as well as the high hotel costs. I agree with both assessments, though the last three years I have noticed higher availability of more reasonable hotel rates if you are willing to not be downtown. I see they moved up the awards ceremony to 2:30 which is probably in response to people not sticking around Saturday night. That's too bad as I always thought that Saturday afternoon/evening was part of the Northshore experience. I'm kind of surprised more Twin Cities skaters don't just make this a day trip to save money while still getting to race. Instead, many have just abandoned the race. Every year I question why I make the trip, but I'll make it 19 straight this year.
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Old September 9th, 2018, 04:40 PM   #3
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It is Sunday am... Northshore is 6 days away.
- - - - - - - - - Aug 30- - - - - Sept 9
marathon elite....68. . . . . . . 76
marathon..........837 . . . . . 874
half marathon...244. . . . . . 277
combined...........23. . . . . . 27
rollerski.............39. . . . . . 45


current on skates.....1254 (still yikes!)

total 'rolling'........1254
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Old September 9th, 2018, 11:50 PM   #4
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Well, I tried to make sense of the registration numbers. Historical data below was a pain to generate and errors are possible, but I was careful. There are three columns with some data missing (Skaters completing the marathon, Registered skaters, and Skaters completing any event [on SKATES, no runners]).

Conclusions:
2002: Peak Northshore (returning skaters who missed 2001 due to the 9/11 airspace shutdown)
2006-2007: Rain then bitter cold. From the 2006 race results booklet: "After 10 years of perfect weather, it finally happened." Was this the catalyst for a 2008 decline?
2008, 2012-2013: Disturbing Decline Years
2014-today: The new baseline. 2018 looks comparable to recent years, but any significant drop in future years would not be a great sign.


1996 - 1135 skaters completed the marathon
1997 - --?- -- 2023 registered skaters
1998 - 2153 -- 2540
1999 - --?- -- 3071
2000 - 3073-- 3525
2001 - 3248-- 4237
2002 - 3802-- 4384
2003 - 3636-- 4159
2004 - 3237-- 3658
2005 - 3087-- 3535
2006 - 2485-- 3327------------------first rain race
2007 - 2773-- 3289------------------bitter cold
2008 - 2445-- 2845------------------beautiful weather and a tailwind
2009 - 2358-- 2776
2010 - 2064-- --?- -- 2337 skaters completed any skate race
2011 - 2199-- --?- -- 2604
2012 - 1770-- --?- -- 2199
2013 - 1203-- --?- -- 1500
2014 - 1050-- --?- -- 1360
2015 - 1005-- --?- -- 1274
2016 - -921-- --?- -- 1238
2017 - -813-- --?- -- 1093
2018 - -958 reg'd---- 1310 registered as of 9/9/2018 19:11
2018 - -823-- --?- -- 1126 projected finishers assuming 14% DNS+DNFs
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Old September 10th, 2018, 03:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
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2002: Peak Northshore (returning skaters who missed 2001 due to the 9/11 airspace shutdown)
2006-2007: Rain then bitter cold. From the 2006 race results booklet: "After 10 years of perfect weather, it finally happened." Was this the catalyst for a 2008 decline?[/I]
Doubt it. Most likely it was economic. 2008 was when the Housing Bubble burst and the Great Recession began. Around here, 2008 was the second and final year for San Francisco Inline Marathon. It was also the last year for Canada Road 50K's. We went from five local races in 2008 to one in 2009.

Notice the numbers continued to decline in 2009 even though 2008 was beautiful. Weather might have been a factor for 2014, though. The economy was improving but the 2013 head wind was just awful and pavement had degraded significantly too including the tunnel grooves.
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Old September 10th, 2018, 03:32 PM   #6
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2010 was the introduction of the tunnel grooves, correct? What year was the tar snake repair debacle? Personally I remember the pavement degradation starting no later than 2012. Was it around 2010 the awards ceremony was revamped and moved to Grandma's? Somewhere in there the race management made a bunch of shortsighted and/or plain bad decisions like pricing out many vendors which inevitably shrunk the expo event (which once was a spectator draw itself). The 2010s is also when I recall my more economical hotel choices increasing their rates significantly. Also, when did they start I35 repairs affecting travel from the Twin Cities (probably has always been an issue)? Flight costs into MSP or even Duluth may have affected a few people. The new Pamplona Spain race has also grabbed a handful of skaters at times. Some years the Eastern Seaboard Series doesn't mind conflicting with Northshore, but I think they just assume a small loss of skaters to Duluth (no conflict this year with the race organizer's daughter skating Northshore).

There are lots of reasons why numbers down, many compounding on each other. Some have improved at times (roads, economy), but my sense is human nature is such that once the habit is broken and they miss a year, they don't return. New skaters aren't coming in fast enough. How sad for us that love to race on skates. I'm just happy I was there for peak Northshore - it was amazing.
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Old September 11th, 2018, 10:06 PM   #7
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No disrespect to any other outdoor event in the USA, but I believe Duluth is head and shoulders above any other skating race we have in this country (for outdoor marathon). It's fantastic and it's only gotten better with the course improvements.

I think Brian hit the nail on the head though...people are leaving the racing scene and we aren't bringing in new skaters quickly enough.

For me personally, I always get a pit in my stomach every year when Duluth rolls around and I'm not there. I've done the race 5 times, I believe, and I always have a lot of fun. In addition to the race, I just enjoy the town of Duluth and being around the skaters.

However, as I've gotten older, these trips have gotten tougher. Like others have said, in the past, it's probably cost me $1000 out of pocket for my wife and I to attend the race. When you factor in $100+ for registration, $500 for flights, $150 for car rental and gas, $300 for hotels, etc, etc, it does add up quickly. But, for me, it's not even about the money anymore;it really comes down to other things...

Last season, I did a lot of cyclocross racing...and, I absolutely loved it because I could race every Saturday and Sunday from September through December 20 or 30 minutes from my house. And, I could race the "rec group" or I could race against elite level completion like you see at Duluth. I had a blast.

The problem with skating, particularly outdoor, is that none of us get the chance to race every weekend. At best, we get the chance to race a couple times a year, and with that, it usually involves a lot of travel. So, we have limited opportunities to race and after a few years, skating by yourself every day gets old. Don't get me wrong, I love the sport, but I've never had the opportunities to develop on a local level...very few events or other skaters to help push me and keep me motivated. So, for 51 weekends out of the year, skating is a pretty lonely place in my world. And, if all you have to look forward to is one weekend, which is Duluth, your motivation to race kind of dries up. On the contrary, if there was a local scene that had a race or two every month to help sustain us throughout the season and then there was Duluth, I think more of us would make the trip...because the time/effort would seem more meaningful. And, our motivation would be there.

This is just me talking though. I could make all the excuses in the world, but it doesn't take away from how great skating is or how great Duluth is. On a personal level, my motivation to attend races like Duluth comes from a standpoint of competition. Finishing 26 miles is fun, but I want to be competitive (not from a winning standpoint, but just skating strong). And, I've struggled to maintain my competitive aspirations with skating because they come at such a cost...either skate by yourself every day and hope for the best at Duluth. Or, travel to Apostle and St. Paul and North Dakota, and get a couple more races in. I don't know. I think a lot of people are probably in the same boat as me. They want to race; they love skating; but they're just starving throughout the year to stay motivated because there is nothing around...

Edit: Just as an edit to what I said, where is the hot-bed for outdoor inline skating? I'm guessing Minnesota (I don't have stats on-hand). Probably 60 to 80%+ of the attendees at Duluth will be from Minnesota. The reason why that area shows up to the races is because look at all the events they have. I'm guessing if you look at the population of ice speed skaters in this country, you're going to see huge numbers around Milwaukee and Salt Lake City. There are only so many "Brian's" in the world who are going to travel across the country 19 times to do a race. We have to create more energy on the local level to help support races like Duluth.
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Old September 12th, 2018, 02:40 AM   #8
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The loss of local competitions is a big deal but I feel it is not a cause itself but is symptomatic of a larger decline. The first races to fail were the small, local races. In most of the country, these have been gone for more than 10 years. Around here, the Canada Road 50K's, which happened every six weeks or so came closest. They ended after 2008. My understanding is every other weekend crits were a thing in Northern California in the mid-90's but that was before my time in the sport.

Second, we lost most of the regional races. Napa is gone. Road Rash is gone. North Carolina is gone. Just to name a few.

Now, we may be entering the final phase. The upper midwest core is under threat. This thread is about Northshore but I fear for Rollin' on the River. It has a great course and has good backing but it is getting quite small.

Of course, random acts of God don't help. If the current forecast holds up, we are looking at a 3rd consecutive wet Northshore. That can't be good.
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Old September 12th, 2018, 08:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
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The loss of local competitions is a big deal but I feel it is not a cause itself but is symptomatic of a larger decline. The first races to fail were the small, local races. In most of the country, these have been gone for more than 10 years. Around here, the Canada Road 50K's, which happened every six weeks or so came closest. They ended after 2008. My understanding is every other weekend crits were a thing in Northern California in the mid-90's but that was before my time in the sport.

Second, we lost most of the regional races. Napa is gone. Road Rash is gone. North Carolina is gone. Just to name a few.

Now, we may be entering the final phase. The upper midwest core is under threat. This thread is about Northshore but I fear for Rollin' on the River. It has a great course and has good backing but it is getting quite small.

Of course, random acts of God don't help. If the current forecast holds up, we are looking at a 3rd consecutive wet Northshore. That can't be good.
What you described is exactly right (in my opinion). I came in to the sport late...around 2008. I did A2A in 2000, but that wasn't really an entry point for me. Anyway, when I was in college, they sold a skating magazine in our bookstore. Can't remember the name off-hand. It may sound weird, but that exposed me to information on races and even equipment. At the time, all I owned was "rec skates." I didn't have any knowledge that speed skates existed. I remember a lot of advertising in the magazine for the "Tour 800 skates," and I thought those were the gold standard. Pretty much sums up my knowledge of the sport. But, that magazine led me to other resources and I eventually started to understand the landscape better. In 2010ish, the sport was probably way smaller than it was in the early 2000s, but it was pretty big to me. You had Road Rash, Montreal, a Disney Marathon, US10K Classic, Metrodome, etc, etc.. In addition, there was NROC and Indianapolis had a small series which became part of NROC. And, not only were there races, but the races were legit. For example, Road Rash was a big deal, along with Montreal and many others (Chicago too). Now, it's only 8 years later, and all of those events are gone (except Chicago). And, not only are they gone, but the few that remain aren't even really that legit. Chicago is just barely hanging on. As you mentioned, Rolling on the River could be on the chopping block. Apostle is a fantastic race, but it's logistically pretty tough for a lot of people, I think. So, outside of Duluth, we don't have much left.

But, it's exactly as you describe...one year, a magazine is gone. The next, a race or two. The year after that, NROC. Then, more races. And, you get to a point, where enough small pieces have been taken out that you no longer have anything left to work with.

Definitely not trying to complain. I wish I had a solution. I don't. I've thought about it a lot and I'm not sure how to bring the sport back. I applaud the people who are trying.
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Old September 20th, 2018, 11:31 PM   #10
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On the bus to Two Harbors, I sat by a guy who said he had done all but two Northshores. He attended the other two as a Rollerblade rep, but could not race as there was a cap in registrations (he said he begged for a spot to no avail). He said one year the cap was hit in June. I remember hearing about a registration cap the first few years I skated, but it is hard to imagine turning away skaters nowadays. I assume it was based on a permit issue (if not, shame on the organizers).

My college dorm housemate completed his 20th Northshore this year. Apparently the organizers eliminated the pins commemorating 5/10/5/20 year participants. Just when I thought the organizers were getting their act together after many years of questionable decisions, they seem to be back at it. Yeah it's a stupid pin, but it's a stupidly inexpensive gift that shows appreciation to those that keep showing up. If it gets one extra registrant, it pays for itself.
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Old September 23rd, 2018, 01:00 AM   #11
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One think to consider here, is that the decline in numbers doesn't come from speedskaters.

The NorthShore Inline Marathon is mostly an event where you skate from Two Harbors to Duluth using stride 2, not stride 3. These are the people who would have to come back, if the event is to return to the numbers of the past.

I've got a (not especially carefully made) Google spreadsheets chart that shows this pretty well.
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Old September 24th, 2018, 05:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
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... where is the hot-bed for outdoor inline skating? I'm guessing Minnesota (I don't have stats on-hand). Probably 60 to 80%+ of the attendees at Duluth will be from Minnesota ...

skaters only, would guess that runners/rollerski would be higher
2013 70%
2014 68%
2015 65%
2016 68%
2017 63%
2018 63%
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