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Updated 20 Dec 2016

(Below: Clear but cold skies took place for this year's ice marathon on Valentine's Day, 14 Feb 2016, on a 1.2 km track located on the southeast corner of Lake Memphremagog. Owl's Head mountain in Quebec looms in the background. All photos by Phil White).

Newport, Vermont, 15 February 2016- The rescheduled Lake Memphremagog Marathon took place over the weekend. Braving bitter cold, the events drew a high spirited crew of skaters from both sides of the border: Ontario, Sherbrooke, Magog, Quebec City, Montreal, Drummondville, Three Rivers, Boston, Derby, Newport Ithaca, Long Island, and Hanover.

Ice conditions were nice, thanks to Dennis Chennette, Don Haughton, Jr. Hayley Joseph, Pam Ladds, Anne Chiarellom and Kristian Pearson. Thanks also to the Passumpsic Savings Bank, Eden Ice Cider, and the Northeseat Kingdom (NEK) Tasting Center and the City of Newport for their support of the Winter Games, and to The Eastside Restaurant and staff for being such a wonderful host.

Men's division winners of Saturday’s 21 km race were Rejean Blais of Quebec City (center), First Place with a time of 50:52; 2nd Place, Tom Keane of Cambridge, MA, (left) 55:35; and 3rd Place, David Phillips of East Quogue, NY, (right), 58:26.

Each winner received a bag of locally-made beef jerky. First Place winners received a jug of Vermont maple syrup.



Women's division winners of Saturday’s 21 km race were Guylaine Larouche of Orford, QC, (center) 1st Place with a time of 57:53; Yvonne Halter of Sherbrooke (right), 2nd Place at 1:02:27; and 3rd Place, Carole Moore of East Quogue, NY, at 1:11:55.

Sunday saw even colder weather but less wind.  The marathon was abbreviated from 42 km to another 21 km race around the track.  Tom Keane took first place in 58:08. David Phillips placed second with a time of  58:16, and Sam Creighton of Ithaca, NY took third in 1:28:17.  Among the women, Karin Chamberlain, took home the beef jerky and maple syrup with a time of 1:11:58 with Heidi Hatch of Ontario placing second in 1:18:12.

This is the third year skaters have raced on Lake Memphremagog on a track prepared by Kingdom Games with the help of Marathon Skating International.  The event was originally scheduled for January 30-31, but warm weather prevented work on the track. Warmer temperatures undermined the thickness of the ice, causing the event director's truck to fall through the ice while clearing the track (Phil White got out OK; he even had time to grab important things like his skates; the truck now sits in 20 feet of water, awaiting salvage after the spring thaw). The recent stretch of colder weather allowed Phil to get more equipment back out on the ice to prepare for the event.

The organizers were unable to plow a trail for the afternoon Adventure Skate.  A trail was cut to the pressure ridge at The Bluffs, but the plow froze up in the cold on Sunday and prevented further efforts to go further north.

Phil's concluding remarks: "This year was definitely a challenge, but we ended up with some very good ice. The success of this year's events solidified my belief that Lake Memphremagog has a place among North American natural lake ice skating venues.  I'm looking forward to 2017!"

This report was based on emails and Facebook posts by Phil White, director of Kingdom Games and race director of the Lake Memphremagog Marathon; edited by Neal Hundt of MSI.


Golden Skates Marathon Report, with Timing Results

Sainte-Foy, Québec City, December 6, 2015- Lake Placid was supposed to host the first marathon of the North American 2015/2016 season. But ORDA (Olympic Regional Development Authority), the rink operator, had other plans. With just a few days before the weekend, ORDA called Race Directors Patrick and Karen Kelly to inform them that ice would not be available on the Olympic oval. A marathon weekend with record-breaking registration (70 competitors) had no ice to stage the 10, 21, and 42km events.

Not ones to cancel the weekend of speedskating, the race directors made a determined effort to stage the event in another venue, the only other refrigerated speedskating oval operating in Eastern North America, the Gaétan Boucher oval in the Sainte-Foy district of Québec City. Along with help from MSI Director Gaétan Rochette and the Speed Skating Federation of Québec, the Kellys were successful in moving the Golden Skates Marathon to Canada.

Racing in unseasonably warm weather, 33 skaters completed the 21km half-marathon race on Saturday evening. Cloudy skies and above-freezing weather continued on Sunday morning, with the same number of skaters in the 10km race, followed by 18 skating in the 42km distance.

MSI salutes Patrick and Karen Kelly for their dedication to speedskating and for bringing the marathon skating community together in Québec. Patrick even transported a number of skaters in his own car, from Lake Placid to Québec and back


Patrick Kelly, left, Race Director of the Golden Skates Marathon, with a bird's eye view of the action on Anneau Gaétan Boucher. He announces the number of laps skated to a group of skaters in the 10km race.




Pierre Gagne receives a medal from Patrick Kelly for placing first in the Men's 80-89 year-old category. Pierre, nearly 83, also skated in the 21km on Saturday, along with his brother, Maurice. Read more about Pierre and Maurice and their skating pursuits at New York's famous Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel in And Now for Something Completely Different.















See photos of the top finishers and Christie Sauza's full report in the Lake Placid News, Golden Skates Marathon Goes North.

Marathon Skating Comes to Minnesota in 2016,
in the Heart of the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes

Minneapolis, Minnesota, December, 2015- The Loppet Foundation is excited to offer a 25K and 50K marathon in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota as a part of their City of Lakes Loppet, February 5-7, 2016.

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As marathon speed skaters understand, winter is the best time to get outside and enjoy the cool air and frozen water.  We skaters are not the only athletes to feel this way, so you are invited to join in an Urban Silent Winter Sport Festival and compete along with 11,000 other athletes in 30 different events.  This is the inaugural year for the Loppet Speedskating Marathon and we hope for a great turn out of skaters from all over North America and Europe. 

Description: Loppet-logo-2015.jpgFor over a decade the Loppet Foundation has been hosting cross-country ski races in the parks and on the lakes and trails of Minneapolis.  In 2009 the event was expanded to become a weekend long festival including the addition of other silent winter sports and included over 6,500 participants.  In the years since, additional events have been added and in 2014 there were over 11,000 participants across 21 events.

The marathons will be held on Lake Calhoun in the heart of the Minneapolis’ chain of lakes.  The track will be a minimum of 1K and will be groomed to ensure quality ice.

The 25K will be held on late Friday afternoon. After you finish you can visit the Surly Brewing Beer Garden and Food Trucks while you wait for the fireworks at 8:00 pm. 

Return to the lake on Saturday for the 50K.  Additionally, that afternoon a 1K race for young speed skaters or skaters on hockey and figure skates will be held.  The festivities continue Saturday evening at the Post-Luminary party, which will include live music and dancing. 

Plan to skate and bring the whole family or a group of your friends, as there are many other events to participate in.  These include; cross country skiing, snowshoeing, skijoring, dog sled racing, fat tire racing, a Kubb tournament, and a snow sculpture contest. 

The City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival is an event that should not be missed but if that is not enough to bring you to Minnesota, there are many other places of interest for you and your group to visit while you are in Minneapolis.  Minneapolis is home to many art museums including; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Walker Art Center, The Weisman, and the Museum of Russian Art.  For those who enjoy theater, Minneapolis is second to New York in the number of live theaters per capita and you are sure to find something of interest.  If your family includes those who love to shop, The Mall of America is located just south of Minneapolis near the airport. 

To learn more about the festival and register, check out the website at http://www.loppet.org/events/cityoflakesloppet/ . Minnesota welcomes you and hopes you will help make this inaugural year an outstanding one.


A Message from Gaétan Rochette

3 March, 2015, Quebec City- I am very grateful to Catherine Kwiecien and Rosie Chong for organizing a party for me in Lake Placid on Saturday, February 28 . This homage was a great moment in my “sport life”. The words “thank you” are not enough to express my gratitude to you all.

On May 16, 2004, 13 people came from different places in North America and met in Montreal to found Marathon Skating International. This association helps preserve our ice marathon sport. It provided the first-ever electronic timing system for ice marathons and a web site, which increased interest among skaters. That was the start of this great adventure. I believe in MSI and I will continue to be involved as long as I am able.

Gaétan Rochette Honored at “Skate the Lake”

24 January, 2015, Portland, Ontario- The organization that brings speedskating to the community of Rideau Lakes in Portland, Ontario, is all about volunteers. Since 2006, Portland Outdoors honors one or more individuals with a special award. The award, named after International Big Rideau Lake Speed Skating Marathon founder Marco Smits, is given every year by Marco to Skate the Lake (STL) participants or volunteers whose efforts made for a memorable event.

This year’s award went to MSI director and long-time official timer, Gaétan Rochette. Gaétan has been affiliated with STL since its inception, providing electronic timing over the years. This year marks Gaétan’s official retirement from timing MSI events. When he stepped out of the timing booth on Big Rideau Lake at the conclusion of the day’s races, it would be his last time performing such services in Portland (his final timing duties were the following weekend at the North American Marathon in Newport, Vermont). Next year you won’t see Gaetan in the timing booth at STL. Instead, it will be his turn to wear a timing chip as he skates the lake.

(There's more to timing a race than monitoring a computer. Gaétan arrives at each race course on the day before to install timing system wires at the start/finish line. After using an electric saw to cut grooves into the ice, Gaétan buries the wire using water and snow to create a smooth surface. Above, Gaétan prepares for the Champlain Islands Ice Marathon in Vermont, February, 2013, in the midst of a snowstorm. Photo by Neal Hundt)

Congratulations to Gaétan and to all of the hard-working and dedicated people in the Portland area that produce the annual winter celebration known as “Skate the Lake”. Merci beaucoup, Gaétan! We look forward to skating with you next year!

Summary of Skate the Lake (click image, below, for the story from Portland Outdoors)

Skate the Lake 2015

2015 National 25K & 50K Marathon
Pettit National Ice Center, Milwaukee WI

by Olusegun Sijuwade

15 February 2015- The 2015 National Marathon Speedskating Championships raced on February 13 and 14 at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee,WI. While it was -10F degrees wind chill outdoors, competitors, volunteers, officials, and spectators were doing their paces inside a comparatively balmy 52 degrees F.

Ice maker and facility manager learned the mylaps software program, and this year the system was instituted to great success. A minor glitch in formatting race completion on the first day still did not stop a successful rendering of the skaters effort this weekend.

Friday afternoon started with the 25K National championships (64laps). 18 skaters from throughout the US lined up for official Brian Kretschmann's pre-race instructions on lap scoring and racing protocol. Chief referee Ernie Kretschmann lined up the skaters and gave the firing shot to commence the race.

Colton Barrett senior men), Theron Sands(masters 50-59), Ethan Cepuran ,Isaiah Janisch(juniors), and Michael Hubbs(master 30-39)formed a fast pack for about 30 laps into the race. Colton began to separate from the others with an effort to break the two year 25K national track record of 2014 Olympian patrick Meek. Barrett won his first national marathon championships with a 15 second personal best(pb), but the track record remains unbroken for yet another year.

Cepuran, Janisch, and James Kahn (juniors) raced fast and furiously in the junior division. Cepuran was about 1 minute off of his division record, but still win a second consecutive national title several minutes ahead of his competitors. Kahn finished just 8 seconds ahead of bronze medalist Janisch.

The three women in the race were all from the 50-59 age group. Kathy Feinberg chased the national 25K record of Katie Zapotecki, but had to settle for the gold while being about a minute off the division record. Karen Verone was the silver medalist, and Patty Barrick skated to bronze while inspiringly joining hands with her husband and 50-59 men's competitor Joe Barrick across the finish line.

Hubbs, Jim White (70-79), and Marshall Lipton (80-89) were uncontested national champions whose inspired racing brought admiration from the spectating crowd.

Sands settled into his rhythm after 30 laps, and after racing in the masters world competition less than a week prior, felt some physical wear. Still , he was able to secure his first national marathon championship. Veteran marathoner Nathan Feinberg was silver, and Nick Sykes used his brand new boots to take the bronze from a hard charging Jeff Brand. It was so close, that Sykes actually thought Brand won until the electronic and manual timing showed otherwise. Barrick and Bob Wills raced to 5th and 6th places respectively. Newcomer Michael Schillmoeller could not quite finish the last 5 laps this day. Perhaps when he gets long track skates instead of short track blades, he will feel more efficiency.

Jim Daniska sang a riveting edition of the national anthem before competition. He then went out and secured his very first national marathon title. He was a few minutes ahead of silver medalist Richard Farren and Roger Boswell, bronze.

Saturday's 50K (129 laps) began with Sands, Barrett, and Peter Macky (30-39), off to a blazing start away from the skating field. Early in the race, with only 5-6 laps in, Barrett dropped off the pack. It seemed as though he was having some difficulty. He eventually caught up to a speedy Macky, and they continued the next 120 laps as a two person pack. This time the strategy bought both of the hard working and fast moving athletes national success as they secured not only national titles, but also at least 365 days of being the fastest ever in the US National Marathon. Barrett and Macky both smashed Meek's TR by over two minutes. Macky was 17 minutes under the division record set in 2012.

Kathy Feinberg continued her marathon dominance with another national title this weekend. Verone and Patty Barrick kept churning until they also raced to silver and bronze.

Local firefighter hero Larry Kaufmann (40-49) took his first national marathon title, to add to his break out US Masters Single Distance performance in January. Kaufmann is an in-liner competing in his first year, successfully, on ice.

Sands raced hard to his 50K championship, even leading the other lead pack at times when his training partner Mack and Barrett came around. Mack and Sands both presently train with coach Bob Fenn. Barrett also trained under Fenn before becoming a champion pro road,track, and criterium cyclist during the last 4 years. Bruce Anderson came from the windy John Rose Oval in Minnesota to get silver under the indoor PNIC. Nathan Feinberg added a bronze to his collection for his always tenacious racing. Sykes was 4th with Brand right along side him the entire 50K for 5th place. Joe Barrick skated to 6th , while inspiringly crossing the finish line with Patty Barrick's hand on this Valentine's Day.

Bob Dvorak (60-69), the US Masters 3000M champion added a 50K gold to his 2015 collection.Meanwhile Farren worked hard to earn another silver today.

White raced uncontested at 70+ years, and with his 129th lap concluded the 2015 National Marathon Championships.

Many thanks to Silvia Acevedo for announcing. Special thanks to our lap counters Corrina, Armando, Antonia,Julianna, Kathleen (who brought the food!), Peter, and the parents (who also counted laps)of the skaters that were on hand to witness great racing they could be proud of.

See MyLaps.com for results.

Young Talent Tries Marathon, then
Moves on to the Olympics and the World Cup

By Jake Maarse (Ivanie Blondin celebrates her gold medal in Heerenveen, Netherlands, on 14 December 2014. Along the way to the World Cup circuit, Ivanie skated in an event on the Marathon Skating International circuit, winning the Ottawa Marathon in 2006.)

December 19, 2014, Ottawa, Canada- The Ottawa Bytown Skate is one of the primary mass start events on the Marathon Skating International calendar in North America. On the second anniversary of this event on January 8, 2006, a young woman from Ottawa named Ivanie Blondin signed up for the 40km race under the encouragement of local speedskating advocate and promoter, Jim Shearer.

According to Wikipedia, Blondin began her career competing in short track speed skating while a youth in the Gloucester Concordes skating club. She nearly quit the sport after failing to qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Mike Rivet, her coach in Gloucester, convinced her to switch to long track. "I was ready to quit skating because I was just so discouraged and disappointed. I think the switch was the best decision I could have ever made," she said. As a result, Blondin represented Canada in long distance events at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as well as the team pursuit event.

Back to that day in 2006, Blondin became the overall winner of the 40km in the Ottawa Bytown Skate, with a time of 1:19:24. Today, at 24 years old, Blondin is one of the top contenders in ISU World Cup long track events. Her most recent triumph and 5th World Cup medal this season was winning the gold at the ISU World Cup in Heerenveen, Netherlands, on December 14.

Marathon Skating International salutes Ivanie Blondin and wishes her all the best.

Event News: The organizers of the North American Marathon at Lake Memphremagog, Newport, Vermont, are pleased to announce a reduction in fees for the 25- and 50km marathons as well as the Great Skate to Magog. Please show your support for the establishment and sustainability of marathon racing in Newport, VT, by participating in the marathons. Race headquarters for the weekend is the EastSide Restaurant, home of the famous Saturday evening seafood buffet. For more information about the events, click here.

Speedskaters Open Olympic Oval with Marathon Races

December 10, 2014
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent, Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID, New York- The Golden Skates Marathon, the first speedskating race of the season at the oval in Lake Placid, attracted more than 50 skaters from throughout the U.S. and Canada, December 5-7.

Featuring a new timing system and directed by Lake Placid Speedskating Club President Patrick Kelly, the race included three distances: 10 kilometers, 21km, and 42km. Participants could choose which races to participate in or skate all three.

There were several age groups available, but the most attended age groups were the 60- to 69-year-olds and 70-79. Kelly was pleased with the amount of skaters who participated.

Following the final race of the weekend, the Golden Skates medallions were awarded on the Olympic Oval.

From left, Sergio Almarella, Nate Feinberg, Glenn Corso, Guylaine Larouche, and Kathy Feinberg.





"The race went very well," Kelly said. "We had skaters who came to Lake Placid from as far away as Texas to participate, and everyone had a great time."

Mary Lou DiNicola, a Pittsfield, Massachusetts native who has been coming to Lake Placid on and off for 65 years, started competing at age 10. She resumed her skating career at age 45 and has been skating ever since. At 75 years old, DiNicola competed in the 21km race and placed first in her age category.

"Lake Placid puts on such a great meet. I have fun every time I come here, Lake Placid is like my hometown," DiNicola said. "The oval is the gem of the Northeast. Speedskating is a sport for life. You are never too old to participate."

The race also attracted former NHL hockey player Mike Richter, who was a member of the New York Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup winning team. Richter, a Northwood School graduate, won a gold medal in the 10k and 21k races last weekend in his age division.

The top three finishers in the men's and ladies' division received a special medallion - gold, silver or bronze:
• Men- Glenn Corso (Smithtown,NY, first place), Sergio Almerella (Ottawa, Canada, second place) and Nate Feinberg (Rochester, NY, third place).
• Women- Rebecca Simmons (Albany, NY, first place), Guylaine Larouche (Orford, Canada, second place) and Kathy Feinberg (Rochester, NY, third place)

For more information on Lake Placid Speedskating Club and their meets this year, visit www.lakeplacidspeed.com. Results for the 10-, 21-, and 42km races are available here.

Get Ready for the 2015 North American Marathon at
Lake Memphremagog, Newport, Vermont

Newport, Vermont- Kingdom Games, in partnership with Marathon Skating International (MSI), has been selected by U.S. Speedskating to host the North American Marathon (NAM) on January 31 and February 1, 2015, on Northeast Vermont's Lake Memphremagog. Each year the event alternates between venues in Canada and the United States. Last year's NAM was hosted by Skate the Lake in Portland, Ontario.

(The lead pack of skaters in the inaugural marathons held on Lake Memphremagog in March, 2014. The City of Newport, Vermont, is in the background. Photo by Phil White of Kingdom Games, one of the sponsors of endurance sporting events in the area of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom.)


Index for the 2013/2014 Season:

Silver Skate Festival Marathon
Plains of Abraham Skating Challenge
US National Marathon
North American Marathon at Skate the Lake
Lake Placid Golden Skates Marathon
Quebec City Marathon

Lake Memphremagog Brings the 2013/2014 Marathon Season to an End

3 March 2014, Newport, VT- The return of marathon speedskating on Lake Memphremagog took place on the first weekend of March with a small but dedicated field of seasoned speedskaters. They skated in the first officlal speedskatering races on the lake in over 31 years. According to MSI Director and Timekeeper Gaétan Rochette, the 21km half-marathon on March 1 was a "great race and fun, [with] nice ice." Results are available at MyLaps.com for Saturday's 21km and Sunday's 42km. To see an 18-photo essay, with captions, of photos taken by Race Director Phil White, click the starting line photo, below.

(Photo above: The start of the 21km half-marathon on Lake Memphremagog, with the City of Newport in the background. Fourteen skaters leave the starting line (left to right ): Chip Kruger (partial view), Paul McCloskey (yellow), Tom Keane (red), Rebecca Simmons (bright green), Charles Beaudoin (center, front, with goggles; behind him are Guylaine Larouche and Diana Hanks), Don Phillips (copper), Heidi Hatch (white helmet), John Ambrose (black helmet; with Robert Lafleur behind John, blue sleeve), Jake Maarse (orange), Tanya Hoferek (yellow boot), and Bill Burgess (green). Thanks to these skaters for participating in the debut of marathon skating on Lake Memphremagog!)

Summaries of the US National, North American Marathon at Skate the Lake, the Plains of Abraham Challenge, and the Silver Skate Festival marathons.

18 February 2014- January was a busy month for marathon championships. The US National and the North American Championships were held the same weekend, the former in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the latter in Portland, Ontario. Both events were meant to coincide with other events; neither could be rescheduled, forcing skaters to choose one or the other. Scroll down to read Olusegun Sijuwade’s report of the US National Marathon and Neal Hundt’s summary of the North American Championship.

Scroll down for additional news about these events:

(Skaters in the Silver Skate Festival pass the start/finish line and timing hut on the 400m Victoria Oval on River Valley Rd in Edmonton, Alberta.)


Silver Skate Festival Marathon

17 Feb 2014, Edmonton, Alberta- Former MSI president Willem Langenberg reports the following: "The event saw good weather, perfectly prepared Zamboni ice, and an appearance of Canada’s best long distance skater, Jordan Belchos. Jordan was amazingly consistent in his lap times and he set a 10km track record of 14:35.8. Complete results for the 2014 Silver Skate Marathons are at MyLaps.com." The 25km race had 17 skaters in the starting line.

Also of interest (click the graphic to go to the Edmonto Journal article):

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Plains of Abraham Skating Challenge

18 February 2014- The Plains of Abraham Skating Challenge in Quebec City’s Battlefield Park is held each year in conjunction with the Pentathlon des Neiges (producer of an event that combines biking, running , skiing , skating and snowshoeing). In years past a temporary skating oval was constructed. This year was the debut of a refrigerated rink. The marthon organizer, Pentathlon des Neiges, worked with the City of Quebec, the federal government’s Battlefield Commission, and Speedskating Canada to bring this new oval to Quebec City. The investment was made to guarantee availability of ice for the speedskating portion of the Pentathlon des Neiges and most important, the upcoming premier of the Quebec Winter Triathlon in March.

Like the weather at the Skate the Lake marathon in Ontario in January, the Skating Challenge on February 8 and 9 saw extreme temperatures and wind at the skating venue on the historic battlefield high above the St. Lawrence River, the highest part of Quebec City. Seven-point-five kilometer and 25km races were held on Saturday, followed by a 50km race on Sunday.

Thirty-two skaters participated in the 25km and 19 in the 50km. Both long-distance races were won by 19-year old Christopher Fiola of Montreal (photo, right), with fellow Il Peloton inline skating teammate Sergio Almeralla close behind second both days.

Guylaine Larouche was first among women in the 25km and the 50km (pictured center in the photo at left). She was followed by Martine Carrier and Marie-Claude Allaire in the 25km, and in the 50km by Rosie Chong (second place, pictured left), then 7/100’s of a second later by Catherine Kwiecien (pictured right).

Both races were called by race director François Calletta, general manager of Pentathlon des Neiges. His commentary kept both racers and spectators informed during the race. Timing was provided by MSI director Gaétan Rochette. A big “merci beaucoup” to all those that made this event possible.

For complete results, visit MyLaps.com. More pictures of the events are avaiable from Pentathlon des Neiges.

Pierre Gagne celebrates his medal for the 25km in the Plains of Abraham Marathon.

Other Results Highlights: Pierre Gagne, age 81, celebrates his medal from the 25km on Saturday

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(Original announcement for the Plains of Abraham Challenge:)

Pentathlon des Neiges, the biggest winter multisports event in the world, is happy to invite you to skate the fantastic new refrigerated skating oval on the historic Plains of Abraham in downtown Quebec City. The City of Quebec has recently installed a refrigeration system that guarantees ice. The oval will remain open until mid-March.

The Plains of Abraham Skating Challenge takes place on February 8 and 9, 2014. There will be three races: 7.5km, 25km, and 50km. The event is part of the official programming of the 60TH QUEBEC CITY WINTER CARNIVAL.

For complete information:
www.pentathlondesneiges.com/en/homeBienvenue au Défi de patins des plaines d’Abraham!

Francois Calletta, General Manager,
Pentathlon des Neiges


2014 US National Speedskating Marathon

A great weekend of Marathon Speedskating!

by Olusegun Sijuwade, edited by Neal Hundt, based on the YouTube video description of “2014 US Speedskating 25K highlights, Milwaukee, WI January 25, 2014"

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 27 January 2014- The 2014 US Speedskating 25K & 50K Marathons were hosted by the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee on January 25 and 26. The Pettit Ice Center that weekend was also the scene of the Ice Breaker indoor running marathon, the largest in the world.

The energy was electric with many endurance athletes going the the limit.
After guidance from Chief Referees Brian and Ernie Kretschmann, Mark Whitmore fired the gun, and several age groups began the 64.5 laps for the national marathon title. Many seasoned pro-timers/lap counters were on hand to handle the lap cards for the skaters while the flawless Butch Pearson counted down the laps to the skaters testing their heart and mettle.

The field of 31 skaters - the largest number ever for a marathon at this venue - featured experienced marathoners: Olympic trialists, the ASE Long Track program, and multi-time Olympian and inline-to-ice pioneer KC Boutiette. KC came to race, bringing along his family for support. KC has been active in racing world cup and Olympic trials but he found some fiery competition from Liam Ortega and Chase Reichmann. Pro-cyclist and former Cat 1 speed skater Colton Barrett was also on hand to stoke the fires. The rest of the field, Luke Tweddale and Nick Turro (sprinters) contributed some lap leading along the 25K way. After cruising at about 37 seconds per lap, the hammer started to drop with 6 laps to go. Liam and Chase lit up the final laps with 29-30 second breakouts (30+mph). Liam seemed to be spacing himself ahead of the other senior division rivals at the bell lap. Then Chase produced an extraordinarily superhuman surge in the back stretch to take the senior national title. KC was able to edge out Liam for silver.

Ethan Cepuran took the junior division, and spent a lot time leading laps with the lead pack, including being part of the final series of surge laps. Jan Erick and Joel took silver and bronze in their first ultra endurance event. Ethan's finish also established a track record for his division.

Silvia Acevedo emerged as the national 25k champion, skating in a tight pack with rival Janet Naess. However, it took a furious sprint to the finish for Silvia to hold off a hard charging Janet. Melissa took the bronze in this Female 40 division.
The women seniors featured Illinois based skaters Jacky Rowe, fresh from the Olympic trials, and up and coming Carolyn Chapp. Jacky raced to gold, establishing a track record with her performance. Carolyn was rock steady with her silver winning effort.

Vince Morris was the golden standard in the Men 60 division. He also broke his own track record by 16 seconds. Ed Burns turned in a silver performance, and reported that he is actually 70, but appreciated being to skate alongside Vince's record-breaking speed (photo, right of Vince Morris, left, and Ed Burns, right). This division was also stacked with a number competitors. Ken Huss drove in from Minnesota, former home of the national marathon, along with Chuck Hansell, and Roger Boswell. Ken and Chuck seemed to skate in a tight pack, but began to challenge each other toward the final laps. Their standings are still to be determined between these two as timing errors precluded a conclusive result.

Tony Marchese (photo, left), Men 70, skated to a victory, despite his lap counter losing track. He was several minutes off his own track record, but still enough for gold. Veteran referee and in-liner Jim White picked up silver during his performance. 
Dick Klein secured gold and a track record at Men 80.

The always gracious and inspiring Marshall Lipton raced to silver, and continues to give hope to the elder athletes.
Michael Hubbs, Nathan Feinberg, Bridie Farrell, and Kathleen Feinberg secured uncontested gold medals in their divisions. However, in a pack marathon event you always find motivation to race alongside and against someone to the line. Bridie, for example, smashed her own previous track record by 4 minutes this time out.

Congratulations to the 2014 US Speedskating National Champions.
Many thanks to Jeff Brand-announcer, Althea, Antonia, Leah, Samantha, Al, and so many others that helped with lap counting. And thanks to the Pettit National Ice Center for their support in hosting the event. More photos of the events can be found in the photo album “2014 US Speedskating 25K National Marathon Championships” on Olusegun Sijuwade’s Facebook page

Results for the 25km and 50km races, provided by Olusegun Sijuwade:

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2014 North American Marathon /
Skate the Lake Marathon

by Neal Hundt

18 February 2014- Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Skate the Lake and speedskating racing on the Big Rideau Lake, Portland Outdoors was host to the 2014 North American Marathon on January 25 and 26 in Portland, Ontario.

(Photo, left: Tonya Hoferek, John Ambrose, STL founder Marco Smits, and 50km winner Jake Maarse pose behind a cross-section of ice cut from Big Rideau Lake. Ice conditions this year were the best in memory, thanks to Mother Nature and her Portland Outdoors assistants who plowed snow and resurfaced the ice with an Olympia machine, all in sub-zero weather.)

While some skaters at the US National (see related story) competed in relative comfort on an indoor rink, participants in the North American Marathon braved extreme temperatures accentuated by the 2014 North American cold wave. A testament to the ice-making ability of the weather was a display in the walkway between the lake and the community center that served as changing area and cafeteria.

Thirty-two skaters left the starting line in Saturday’s 25-km, half-marathon event. Cloudy skies that moderated the temperature were no match for the strong headwinds blasting skaters on the far side of the track and the “club house” turn (see photo). Fifty-six minutes after the start, Sergio Almeralla of Ottawa was the first one to cross the finish line, closely followed by Alex Zamojski of Skaneateles, NY, and Ottawa’s Jake Maarse. It should be noted that Alex’s father, Ron Zamojski, also skated the 25k and came in ninth place.

Among the top ten finishers was the leading skater among women, Catherine Kwiecien, of Waterloo, ON. Tonya Hoferk of Ottawa took second, followed by Katie Breen of Ottawa. Tonya’s husband, Ducian Hoferek, took fifth place overall in the 25km.

Sunday’s 50km was held under sunny, cold skies (-23 C, -10 F) but without a trace of wind, except for drafts created by the 14 skaters in the race. Jake Maarse (above, left, followed by Sergio Almeralla) was the first to cross the finish line, followed by Jeff Erenstone in second and Willem Langenberg of Edmonton in third (Willem is a former president of MSI). Catherine Kwiecien again showed a strong finish, fourth place overall and first among the women. Heidi Hatch of Brockville, ON, was second, Portand’s own Vicki Stevenson was third, and Sue Warren of Wesport, ON, was fourth among the four women that finished.
(photo above: 50km awards. From left to right: unidentified, Marco Smits, Neal Hundt, John Bongers, Jake Maarse, Willem Langenberg, and John Ambrose)

(photo, right: MSI director and offical timer Gaétan Rochette, left, speaking with Portland Outdoors and STL race director John Bongers, right)

MSI timing was provided by Gaetan Rochette with assistance from Maurice Gagne, both of Quebec City. Complete results for both races can be found at MyLaps.com.

This outstanding event was a huge display of community spirit in Portland and the township of Rideau Lakes. From parking control to on-ice emergency medical personnel to evening fireworks; from indoor and outdoor provision of nutritious food to many other activities and amenities that always makes this a highly anticipated event, Skate the Lake 2014 and the North American Marathon could not have taken place without the large group of volunteers and the leadership of chief organizer John Bongers from Portland Outdoors. Thanks, Portland Outdoors! See you in 2015!

(Skate the Lake is more than just speedskating. Curling (left), horse-drawn sleigh rides, relay races for children and parents, community dinners and dancing: all are among the many events at this annual, weekend-long celebration. )

All of the photos in this article are by John Truyens. These photos and many more are available for viewing and purchase at Trunsphoto.

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Lake Placid Golden Skates Marathon Results:

Corso Sweeps Men's 10, 21, & 42km;
Benediktson Wins Women's 21 & 42km;
Simmons Wins Women's 10km

Lake Placid, NY- 8 Dec 2013: Pictured on the 1932/1980 Olympic Speedskating oval are the winners of the 2013 Golden Skates Marathon trophy (from left to right): Sandy Ramer (3rd Place), Rebecca Simmons (2nd Place), Jennifer Benediktson (1st Place), Glenn Corso (1st Place), Nathan Feinberg (2nd Place), and Marty Haire (3rd Place). In the background is the 1980 Olympic Arena.

Go to MyLaps.com for complete results.

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Summary of the Quebec Marathon, 2013

The 9th Marathon de Québec, organised by the Club de Patinage de Vitesse des Maîtres de Québec (CPVMQ), was held at the Gaetan-Boucher Oval on November 9th and 10th, 2013. The turnout was good despite the early date in the season.  A total of 46 skaters, 29 men and 17 women came from Québec, Ottawa, Kitchener, Kingston, and as far as Pennsylvania and Rochester, NY. Also, several new skaters, mostly from the CPVMQ, participated in their first marathon and loved the experience.

The first event, a 25 km, was held Saturday evening. In the women’s overall category, Geneviève Provencher and Anika Bédard took the first two positions with a difference of a few hundredths of a second, followed by Jennifer Benedicktson in third place. In the men’s category, Christopher Fiola (pictured above, foreground) won the event by three minutes in front of Constant Montpellier and Alexander Jamojski.

Last year’s record of 89 laps in the One hour Challenge remained unbeaten this year because of the strong winds and snow on Sunday morning (see photo, left). In the Women’s category, Jennifer Benedicktson won the first place with 62 laps, Sandy Ramer and Rosie Chung finished second and third, respectively, with 55 laps. In the men’s, Christopher Fiola finished first with 78 laps, followed in second by Nathan Feinberg from Rochester NY with 73 laps and in third place by first-time marathoner Réjean Blais from CPVMQ, also with 73 laps.

Finally, the 10km des Roses was a first opportunity for some women to skate in a peloton.  The placement was divided into two categories, elite and participation, according to times.

The organising committee was pleased with the participation level and would like to invite you to the next MSI events:  10km, 21km and 42km in Lake Placid, NY, on December, 6-7-8, 2013, followed by 25km and 50km at the North-American Championships in Portland, ON, January 25-26, 2014. Check the MSI website for complete information.

Complete results for the Quebec Marathon are found here.  

Gaétan Rochette
Chair of the CPVMQ Organizing Committee

Translation by Anika Bedard. Photo of Christopher Fiola and volunteer snow shoveler by Alicia Weiss.

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2012/2013 Season Completes with Nine Marathons

Pat Kelly, Charles Beaudoin, and Jake Maarse (from left to right) compete in the first-ever Champlain Islands Ice Marathon. Pat took first, Jake second, and Charles third place in the 42km race. (Photo by Diana Hanks, who skated her first race with MSI in Sunday's 5-km)


Katonah, NY, 11 March 2013- From the one-hour challenge that opened the season in Quebec City to the 100-km marathon that closed the season on Sylvan Lake, the 2012/2013 marathon skating season provided many opportunities for long distance, pack-style racing, from:
- races held on refrigerated 400-meter ovals, both indoors (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and out (Quebec City, Lake Placid, and Saskatoon);
- to a park in Ottawa, on a temporary oval built not once, but twice because of a January thaw; and
- despite record-breaking warm temperatures and extreme weather associated with climate change, lakes were natural ice venues for four marathons in Canada and the US (Big Rideau Lake, Ontario; Lake Champlain, Vermont; Edmonton; and Sylvan Lake, Alberta).

Two new events were part of the schedule this year, the 1st Annual Saskatoon Great Icescape Marathon and the Champlain Islands Ice Marathon. The efforts of the Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club were met with great success. The organizers anticipate an even bigger and better event next year.

The first-ever speedskating marathons held on Lake Champlain’s City Bay were also a success despite a snowstorm on the day prior to the weekend of racing. Organized by MSI with the support of the local chamber of commerce, participants and local merchants alike gave enthusiastic reviews of events both on and off the ice. Expect this to have a permanent place on the annual schedule, and as with Saskatoon, marathon skaters can look forward to a bigger and greater event next year!

Another first this year was the US National Marathon and North American Marathon, indoors, at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Congratulations go to Race Director and organizer Olu Sijuwade. Last year Olu organized the first-ever marathon on the Pettit's 400-meter oval, proving that marathon skating has a place at this historic speedskating venue. Read or listen to radio WBUR's story about this year's marathon skating at the Pettit,

Each event this year was unique with its own special venue and local flavor of the host town or city. Common to all the events, though, are the skaters. They travel great distances for a weekend of skating, and they do it again and again each month and each year. While in the process of enjoying the sport, camaraderie develops, and for many, the bonds grow stronger each skating season. Yes the skating is fantastic, it is physically challenging, and it enhances our well-being. But it is the community of skaters and volunteers that makes each event a success, something that makes us return for more next year.

We close the 2012/2013 season with a view of the MSI speedskating community, photos of families and friends, who love to join together to share this great sport of marathon speedskating. If we missed capturing you on film this time, we will try to get you next year! Have a safe and wonderful summer. See you on the ice next season!

Neal Hundt
President, MSI

(left: Charles Beaudoin, Christine Caron, and Fernand Caron, after the 42km in North Hero, VT. This family regularly travels to Austria for a week of skating on Lake Weissensee. When they're not on the ice, you'll find them together on inline skates, especially the Montreal 24hr.



Another family in the MSI family are the Hofereks:
Tonya, Dusan (behind the camera for this photo) and their son Zari. All arms are raised in celebration of Zari completing a 5-km race at the Champlain Islands Marathon. Racing under a magnificent sky, a view of the Green Mountains of Vermont on the horizon, and clean, crisp, fresh air: what better family activity could there be than this?








The MSI family is filled with friends. Happy to be together again are three from Ontario: Kelly Goody, John Ambrose, and Tonya Hoferek. Having just completed the 21-km, the smiles and laughter would last into the evening during MSI's banquet at the North Hero House, a short skate from the oval and the scene of the 2013 Champlain Islands Ice Marathon.



Friends for over 40 years, as boys these three went to school, skied, and ran track together. But they never skated with each other until MSI's event in Vermont. Posing next to the MSI banner outside of the North Hero Chamber of Commerce and Champlain Islands Ice Marathon headquarters, from left to right: Dave Lustgarten; MSI President and Race Director Neal Hundt; and Craig Stevens. Sunday's 5-km was Dave's first MSI race. While Craig has skated MSI events on Lake Morey, the 21-km on Lake Champlain was his first long-distance event. (Photo by Nicole Cherry)

Silver Skate and Sylvan Lake Close the
2012/2013 Marathon Season

Edmonton, Alberta, 26 February 2013-
While signs of spring are a long way off in these latitudes, signs of the coming season were evident at the annual Silver Skate Festival, juxtaposed against speedskaters on ice and nearby sculpltures of ice. Yet marathon skaters took advantage of fast, hard ice, focusing their attention on a competitive 25km race despite the amusing trackside distraction (placed, perhaps, by a descendant of a Dutch tulip farmer). The half marathon was just one of many events at this annual festival. (Photo, right, by John Lucas, Edmonton Journal)

While artificial tulips may have served as a warmup for spring, the 25km in Edmonton's William Hawrelak Park was for some a warmup for greater things to come. Just one week later the mighty 100km marathon on Sylvan Lake was awaiting. Hosted by the Foothills Speedskating Association, the Sylvan Lake Ice Marathon took place over an extended weekend, with three days of marathon skating on a 5km track created on the snow-covered lake (see photo, left, by Tony Lambert, of a peloton in the 50km). With 160m, 10km, 25km, 50km, and 100km races, this event is without a doubt one of the crown jewels of speedskating in North America.

As usual the start/finish area of the track was adorned with an infrastructure akin to a small town. Community volunteerism and corporate sponsorship help make this a special event for all. An MSI photo-essay from previous years gives one an appreciation of this magnificent event.

All skaters that enter the Sylvan Lake marathons are worthy of admiration, but this year one skater in particular deserves special mention. Having celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year, Pierre Gagne chose to reach additional milestones by travelling from his home in Quebec City to Edmonton, as well as Sylvan Lake, to skate in 25-, 50-, and 100km marathons. Congratulations to Pierre! He is an inspiration that we can keep fit and active and enjoy the sport and comaraderie of speedskating. At an age when many others become idle and simply reminisce, Pierre keeps charging forward.

(Photo: Pierre Gagne, center, ready for another 5km lap in the 50km marathon on Sylvan Lake. His friend, skating companion, and oftentimes MSI Timing Official Gaétan Rochette, left, takes a well-deserved drink of water before joining Pierre. Photo by Jeff Davis, timekeeper for the Sylvan Lake marathon.)

Results of the Silver Skate and Sylvan Lake races:

25km, Silver Skate

All Sylvan Lake Results

18 February, Edmonton, Alberta- Silver Skate Festival results are on MyLaps.com for the 25km half marathon.

11 February, North Hero, VT- Based on the number of skaters who participated, MSI's first marathon in Vermont's Champlain Islands was a success. Thanks go to all those who traveled great distances despite dangerous, snow-covered roads in the aftermath of a blizzard.

Sixty-four entrants skated in four races, and the host hotel had to open additional buildings on their property to accomodate participants and their families. The weather was near perfect, with sunny skies and cold but comfortable temperatures. Event timing was perfect: 18 hours after the end of the events, winds obliterated the track on Lake Champlain and rain began to fall.

New media coverage provides additional information:
- Burlington Free Press article (including a video interview with Pat Kelly, winner of the 42km), and
- local TV news video and transcript.

Timing Results available on MyLaps.com.


Feb 9 & 10:

1km, 5km races for all

21 & 42km for marathon skaters

Marathon Skating Comes to

February 4, 2013, North Hero, Vermont- Organizers of the Champlain Islands Ice Marathon are happy to announce that the races and marathons will indeed be held this weekend. If you have not yet committed to being at this first-ever event, now is the time to make your race registrations and room reservations.

Every year Bob Camp and his crew at Hero's Welcome General Store create a skating oval on City Bay for the town's "Great Ice in Grand Isle" festival. Yesterday Bob reported, that "compared to previous years, this year the ice looks great!" Bob and his team feel that "racers have very high standards. We need to do a bit of 'grind and buffing' in about 5 spots" with the Bambini machine and other tools to sculpt the ice.

Online registration is open until Friday night and is encouraged in order to avoid long lines and delays during the weekend. Onsite registration is in the Chamber of Commerce building, just down the road from the skating oval. Saturday registration is from 8:45 AM to 9:45 AM; Sunday, 8 AM to 8:45 AM.

All skaters must check-in at the registration desk in the Chamber of Commerce
. Every skater must submit a signed liability waiver (download). Those in the 5, 21, or 42km races will pick up their bib number (to be worn on the right thigh) and timing chip (worn on the ankle).

Parking is available behind the Hero's Welcome General Store, directly across from the oval. Registered guests of the North Hero House (site of Saturday night's MSI buffet) can leave their car at the inn or the court house next door.

If you wish to attend the Saturday night buffet ($19), you must contact the North Hero House in advance to make a reservation. Call Nancy at (802-372-4732).

All skaters will receive a certicate of participation. Skaters in the 5, 21, and 42km will receive their skating time, too. Certificates can be picked up in the North Hero House one hour after the end of the 21 and 42km races.

Skaters in the 1 and 5km races can skate in any type of skate. If you don't have speedskates, you can buy a $5 raffle ticket to win a pair of boots and Nordic skates. You can buy a ticket at Hero's Welcome General store. Proceeds go to the local resue squad, fire department, and the historical society. The drawing will be held on Sunday in the North Hero House lobby on Sunday, after the 42km marathon.

Need more information? Click here. Questions? Write to marathonskating@gmail.com.
See you in North Hero!

February 4, 2013, North Hero, Vermont- The weekend of February 9 and 10 will see the first-ever speedskating marathons on Lake Champlain. For skaters in the Northeast, this is the last chance to participate in organized marathon racing in Eastern North America this year.

Advance registration statistics are encouraging. From Maine, Virginia, and Texas in the States, to Waterloo and Ottawa in Ontario, skaters will come to Vermont's Champlain Islands from all directions. Since the marathon’s venue is located near the US/Canadian border, more skaters from the Montreal and Quebec areas are expected, especially with a recent promotion from an article in a Sunday edition of the Montreal Gazette.

Supplementing the 21- and 42km marathons will be 1- and 5km races on both days. The short-distance races are a chance for the public to try racing on ice skates, especially those who are attending the North Hero's 6th Annual Great Ice festival, the host for the races. Skaters in each 5km race will have lap times recorded electronically and will receive a certificate of completion with their skating time after the race. All results will be online after the races via the MSI Results page link to a permanent record at MyLaps.com

Skaters are encouraged to register online, as excessive numbers of on-site registration may delay the races or prevent entry of a skater’s registration data into the electronic timing system. Skaters who registered online can pick up registratoon materials (including timing chip for 5, 21, and 42km races) at the registration desk in the Chamber of Commerce building, just a short walk south of the Hero's Welcome General Store (registration closes at 9:45AM on Saturday, and 8:45 AM on Sunday).

The venue for racing is an oval created every year by the sponsors of Great Ice. As with any event that counts on Mother Nature, there’s always a concern about the weather and the condition of the ice. This year has been no different. Last month’s deep freeze, followed by last week’s unseasonable rain and warm weather, have kept race organizers wondering what conditions they will face on Monday, February 4, the date chosen to determine if the ice is suitable for racing on the weekend.

As of yesterday, South Hero, VT, resident and MSI skater, Chip Kruger, reported that upon visiting City Bay in North Hero, he “found very good ice in most places. Today it’s cold & windy but the ice was nice. I skated many kilometers on my Nordic skates. I hope the conditions stay this good.”

Finally, MSI and the sponsors of Great Ice wish to bring your attention to the new logo for the Champlain Islands Ice Marathon. The logo is the result of a competition among students in the digital design class of Dale Bendsak at the Morris County School of Technology in New Jersey. Five entries were submitted for consideration. The winning design was created by Zachary Mereau. Thanks, Zachary, and thanks to Mikki Regan for offering these services to MSI.

Saskatoon Great Escape Marathon
3 February

9/10 February

To see the latest news, visit the “news” section of Portland Outdoors. Visit them on FaceBook and follow them on Twitter, too.

Ottawa Marathon: Day One Warm; Snow & Wind on Day 2

Ottawa, 20 January 2013- Warm temperatures greeted skaters for Saturday's 21km marathon. As the photo shows, above, severe weather impacted the 42km on Sunday, causing organizers to shorten the race to a one hour blizzard race. Special thanks to MSI skater Jake Maarse for being the driving force behind this marathon, for without him, the venue would not have been built nor the marathon held. The turnout may have been small, but the weekend's events were well-organized and created special memories for all who attended.

To see more photos of the 2013 Ottawa marathon, visit the collection from skater and photographer Alicia Weiss on Flickr. See myLaps.com for official results.

And Now, For Something Completely Different

11 Jan 2013- You may know that this year marks the 80th birthday of veteran marathon skater Pierre Gagné. But did you know that in earlier days Pierre and his brother Maurice Gagné were using their skating skills to jump barrels? A few years ago, while officiating at the North American Marathon in Joliette, Quebec, Pierre reminisced about his days barrel jumping at Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel in New York's Catskill Mountains. He said the hotel tried everything to lure tourists to the hotel during the traditionally slow season of winter. Among the most unique attractions, Grossinger's hosted barrel jumping competitions that were judged by baseball celebrities (the Gagné brothers mingled with NY Yankees baseball legend Whitey Ford). The article, below, documents one of the competitions attended by Pierre and Maurice on January 4, 1958, 54 years ago this month. You can read about the history of barrel jumping at Hickok Sports. Following the article, view a YouTube video from a 1952 competition at Grossinger's and a photo of the barrels taken by a photographer visiting the ruins of Grossinger's in 2010.

Grossinger's barrel jumping barrels today in the ruins of the famed resort hotel. Photo by Jon Haeber, photographer and author of Grossinger’s: City of Refuge and Illusion.

January: Busy Month Despite Warm Weather

11 Jan 2013- What a difference a week makes. Our last front page story bordered on a celebration of the return of cold weather. "Hard water sailors" were piloting their ice boats on lakes as far south as New Jersey, and Jamie Hess of The Nordic Skater released his first ice report of the season, inviting skaters to join him on "wild skating" ventures on lakes in New Hampshire.

The euphoria didn't last long. Earlier this week, the Ottawa Marathon had to be postponed as warm air returned to the north. Originally scheduled for 12 and 13 of January, the marathons had to be moved to 19 and 20 of January due to forecasted temperatures of 9 C / 48 F. Let's hope the warm weather lasts only long enough to naturally resurface the ice, setting it up for excellent conditions when winter returns. (in the meantime, avoid skating on tracks flooded by melting ice, despite the example set recently by a Norwegian skater in the photo, above right).

As reported in our last front page story, this month offers plenty of marathon skating. Choose between Ottawa and Milwaukee for the weekend of 19 and 20 of January, followed by "Skate the Lake" on Big Rideau Lake on 26 January.

Cold Weather to Bring Marathons in the New Year

Ottawa US National Skate the Lake Champlain Islands

1 Jan 2013- The Winter Solstice for 2012 occurred at 11:12 on December 21. Known as the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter, the Solstice marked the return of seasonal temperatures to Canada and the norhteastern United States. As sustained cold temperatures remove vestiges of summer's warmth from the regions' lakes and rivers, once again the landscape falls into a deep freeze.

Weather forecasts call for continued freezing weather, setting the stage, we hope, for great skating on natural ice venues in 2013. Cold weather is being enjoyed in all locations where ice marathons are

planned, from Big Rideau to Burlington and from Ottawa to Alberta. Here's an update on upcoming marathons:

Conditions seem to be improving for the construction an oval in Ottawa's Brewer Park. Earlier this month MSI spoke to lead organizer of the Ottawa Marathon, Jake Maarse. He mentioned the need for snow as a base material for building the skating track. But cold weather is not the only requirement. Jake says it takes about a week's worth of effort for him and a group of volunteers to transform the park into a skating venue suitable for marathon skating. Keep checking this site for updates on conditions for the Ottawa Marathon, scheduled for January 12 and 13. Online registration is now available.

Weather won't be a factor for ice at the US Speedskating National Marathon & North American Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on January 19 and 20. Pack-style marathon racing will be held indoors on a 400m track at the Pettit National Ice Center, a U.S. Olympic Training Facility. Download an information sheet for more details, including registration.

Reports from Portland, Ontario, indicate that the big freeze is starting to occur on Big Rideau Lake, site of the Skate the Lake marathon and festival. As the accompanying photo shows, the protected bays of the

lake are freezing over. Continued cold weather will allow the ice to advance further from shore. Check the Portland Outdoors website for more information and registration.

(Photo: A skating oval on Lake Champlain's City Bay, North Hero, Vermont, circa 2011. On February 9 and 10, 2013, the first-ever Champlain Islands Ice Marathon will take place here. See current conditions via webcam.)

Plans are being finalized for the first-ever speedskating marathons on Lake Champlain in Vermont, scheduled for February 9 and 10. Located on the east and leeward side of North Hero Island, the venue for the Champlain Islands Ice Marathon is an oval created and maintained for the annual Great Ice event. Marathon races will coincide with the 6th Annual Great Ice. One- and 5km races will be available for the general public on both days prior to each marathon.

The North Hero, Vermont, location was chosen for a number of reasons:
- The availability of a skating venue, created by maintained with equipment from one of the sponsors, Hero's Welcome General Store.
- The venue is conveniently located, half-way between Burlington, Vermont, and Montreal, Quebec.
- Local sponsors enthusiastically accepted MSI's suggestion to add marathon racing to their annual Great Ice list of activities (other activities include an on-the-lake bonfire of Christmas trees on Friday night, February 8, following by a lakeside “ice bar” and buffet at the North Hero House).
- Promotion by Local Motion in the greater Burlington, VT, area, and by the Champlain Islands Chamber of Commerce; a feature article is scheduled for publication in the Montreal Gazette on January 6; and announcements will air on Vermont Public Radio.

Schedule of Events and Fees for the Champlain Islands Ice Marathon:

Saturday, February 9
10:00 AM- 1 km skating race open to the public (free)
10:15 AM- 5 km race open to the public (with electronic timing; all participants will receive a certificate with their finishing time; $5 fee)
11:00 AM- 21 km Champlain Islands Ice Marathon race (with electronic timing; $30 entry fee, or $65 fee for combined 21 and 42 km)

Sunday, February 10
9:00 AM- 1 km skating race open to the public (free)
9:15 AM- 5 km race open to the public (with electronic timing; all participants will receive a certificate with their finishing time; $5 fee)
10:00 AM- 42 km Champlain Islands Ice Marathon race (with electronic timing; $40 entry fee, or $65 fee for combined 21 and 42 km)

(Marathon skaters may not participate in the 1- and 5-km races, as these races are reserved for the public as an introduction to racing on ice. Registration for the long-distance races is open to anyone.)

Online registration and payment is now available, via the Champlain Islands Ice Marathon page. Please register in advance to ensure that your information is loaded into the electronic timing system. Onsite registration will be available until 9:30 AM on Saturday and 8:30 AM on Sunday during race weekend. Onsite registration and payment for the 21 and 42 km races will incur an additional $10 fee, as excessive numbers of late registrants delay the start of the races and impede the ability to enter registration data into the timing computer.

Please pick up your timing chip and numbered-bib at the community house, located across the highway from the lake, next door to Hero's Welcome General Store.

Accomodations for the Champlain Islands Ice Marathon

North Hero has similarities with Portland, Ontario, another stop on the ice marathon circuit. Like Portland, the Champlain Islands are primarily a summer destination. As such, please note the availability of tourist services is minimal during winter months.

Lodging in North Hero is limited to one hotel and restaurant, the North Hero House, a small inn with 26 rooms. MSI advises you to make your reservation as soon as possible. When the inn sells out, the nearest accommodations in Vermont are in St. Albans and Burlington (30-45 minutes away); Plattsburgh, New York (ferry access via Grand Isle, or driving through Rouse's Point near Champlain, NY); or possibly in motels on the Quebec side of the New York border. Consult the Chamber of Commerce for assistance witih lodging.

Visit the North Hero House Inn and Restaurant (pictured at right) for information about rooms, rates, and meals. You can make reservations online. If you choose to call the North Hero House (802-372-4732), the property is closed for the month of January. The staff indicates they will return your call within 24 hours if you leave a message.

According to the innkeeper at the North Hero House, guestrooms for the marathon weekend (February 8 & 9) will require a two-night stay. February 4th was chosen as the date when it will be determined if ice conditions are expected to be suitable for racing the following weekend. The inn’s cancellation policy is as follows: Prior to February 4, cancellations will incur a $25 handling fee. Beginning February 5th, the one-night room deposit will not be refunded in the event of any cancellation. Questions about the North Hero House can be directed to nancy at northherohouse dot com.

MSI looks forward to seeing you at these marathons in January and February.

Marathoners Celebrate the Golden Skates in Lake Placid

Lake Placid Oval, evening reflections

(Surrounded by seasonal lighting for the holidays, the Olympic Oval awaits speedskaters for the 10km mass start race at 20:00, 7 Dec 2012. Photo by Neal Hundt)

Lake Placid, New York, December 10, 2012-  The historic Olympic Oval was host to the first-ever Golden Skates Marathon this past weekend. Events drew 62 advance registrations. Beginning Friday night and ending Sunday at noon, three races took place with a total of 134 entries.

Preparations for the holidays could not keep skaters at home. Skaters came from as far away as the Toronto, Ontario, area; Virginia; and Texas. They were joined by marathon enthusiasts from Ottawa, Montreal, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

Despite threatening weather that included unseasonably warm temperatures and pre-dawn freezing rain, ice conditions for every race were very good to excellent. Unusual for Lake Placid, there was very little wind in Saturday's 21km race, enabling top speed and form during the competition. As Sunday's 42km drew to a close, the sun broke through the clouds, bringing all the participants outdoors once again for the awards and closing ceremonies.

Dominating the weekend was Constant Montpelier of Saint-Lazare, Quebec. He finished first in every race and won the "Golden Skate" award in the Men's category. The top skater in the Women's category was Jacqueline Munzel of Long Beach, New York. Among the women, Jacqueline finished first in all three races. Likewise, Jacqueline also took home the "Golden Skate" award. Complete results can be found at MyLaps.com: 10km, 21km, and 42km.

Special recognition goes to marathon organizers Linda Sousa and her daughter Christie, of the Lake Placid Skate Shop (left); Pat Kelly for his support and conducting awards ceremonies; referee and starter Tom Verburg, Coach, Capital District Speedskating Club; Gaétan Rochette of MSI Timing; Denny Allen of ORDA; 21 and 42km lap counter Marilyn Holbeck; and all others who helped make this a successful event.

By Neal Hundt

(Above: Sergio Almeralla skates past Fred Schweikert and Frank Cherry in Friday evening's 10km race. Sergio had the fastest lap time in the 10km; 32.185 seconds on the 0.387 km oval; he finished 2nd overall in the 10, 21, and 42km events. Fred and Frank wear the colors of MSI; jackets can be ordered online. Photo by Christie Sausa)

LP zamboni clears the ice prior to the 42km. (Left: ORDA prepares the ice for Sunday's 42km. The oval was encrusted from the previous night's snow and freezing rain. On behalf of all skaters, MSI wishes to thank ORDA for their efforts in making this a successful event. Photo by Neal Hundt)
Below: Constant Montpelier is followed by Glenn Corso and Nathan Feinberg in the 42km. Photo by Alicia Weiss)

42km leaders

Lake Placid legends of the oval
(Above: A peloton enters the turn to start another lap. Newcomers to marathon skating joined verteran MSI skaters to successfully complete the 110 laps in the 42km. Comaraderie, sport, and excercise: another great day on the ice. Photo by Alicia Weiss)

Right: Pat Kelly, right, officiates the awards ceremonly on Sunday. The Olympic Center is in the background. Photo by Neal Hundt)

Below: Winners of the Golden Skate award, having accumulated the highest number of points overall for the 10-, 21-, and 42km races, from left to right, Glenn Corso; Jackie Munzel; Carol Moore (substituting for winner Suzanne Dione); Rebecca Simmons; and Constant Montpelier. Not pictured is Sergio Almeralla. Photo by Christie Sausa)

Note: Lake Placid Skater on FaceBook has hundreds of pictures of the event. "Friend" her to see her albums.

December 3, 2012- As reported on lakeplacidoval.com, speedskating returned to Lake Placid with the opening of the Sheffield oval this past weekend. Although the arrival of warm weather will keep the oval closed on Monday and Tuesday, temperatures are expected to become more seasonal by mid-week, just in time for the Golden Skates Marathon weekend. For the latest conditions, check lakeplacidoval.com, or call the Lake Placid Skate Shop, 518-302-5028, for information about skating conditions and hours.

Important information for those planning to skate in the Golden Skates Marathon races:
- You must register online; there will be no on-site registration. The organizers informed MSI that "there will no day-of-event registration, at all; we can't do last-minute registration anymore." (no exception) The logistics involved with registration include assignment of timing chips and loading of skater registration information into the computerized timing system. These tasks are done in advance to ensure accurate race information. The organizers cannot be deterred by late-comers, as it risks delaying the start, reducing the time allocation for the race on the rented ice, and jeopardizing the accuracy of the data in the timing system.
- Payment must be made in advance through PayPal, an eBay company that offers free and secure online payment. Those who wait to pay on-site will be charged a $15 penalty fee. Send payment via PayPal to lpspeedsk8@gmail.com (Fee schedule: Two or more events, $99; 10 km-only, $40; 21 km-only, $65; and 42 km-only, $75)
- Registration closes on Thursday night, December 6.

Your cooperation and respect for these procedures are greatly appreciated.

Dec. 7, 8, & 9:
Racing on the Olympic Oval in the
Lake Placid Golden Skates Marathon...

Lake Placid Marathon photo
26 November 2012, Lake Placid-
 The Lake Placid Skate Shop, along with local merchants Hunan Oshaka, Lysek’s Hillcrest Inn, and Peak Performance, are proud to sponsor marathon skating in Lake Placid this holiday season with a new name and expanded format. The Lake Placid Golden Skates Marathon is named for the hand-crafted awards to be given to top skaters. The weekend of events includes 10km, 21km, and 42km pack-style, marathon racing. The three distances will be skated over three days, starting Friday night, December 7, and concluding Sunday morning, December 9. All events are on the historic 400m skating oval, site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, in the village of Lake Placid in the heart of New York's Adirondack Mountains.

The marathon is part of the MSI series and sanctioned by US Speedskating. Formerly called the Lake Placid Marathon and the Dimon Sports Marathon, this year's events feature awards of hand-crafted 14-karat gold jewelry for the top skaters (male and female), based on cumulative points over the three distances. The golden skate awards are custom-made by artisans at Devitt Studios in nearby Jay, NY. In addition to the golden skate awards, honors will be given to the top three finishers in each race for each age category.

Online registration is now open. Please note that registration fees must be paid in advance using PayPal (if you have not used PayPal to send secure online payments, please read about how to get started with this PayPal link. Advance registration and payment helps the organizers run the event on time. Registration fees are refundable. Note that there will be a premium for onsite registration in order to encourage advance registration (fees will be $15 higher onsite). Online registration fees are as follows: Two or more events, $99; 10 km-only, $40; 21 km-only, $65; and 42 km-only, $75. Registration fees defray the costs of logistics associated with the production of the weekend's events, including rental of the oval (three sessions), electronic timing services, awards, and miscellaneous costs.

MSI Softshell Jackets: If anyone is interested in ordering an MSI jacket (navy softshell with the MSI logo embroidered front and back), please contact Catherine Kwiecien as soon as possible. See "Navy Softshell by OuterBoundary" in the MSI store for details. If there is enough interest, an order can be placed in time for delivery at the Lake Placid marathon.

2012/2013 Marathon Season Begins in
Quebec City... a Great Success

Quebec City Marathon 2012 Photo: Caleb Hovey leads the main pack into the turn on the Gaétan Boucher Oval, followed by Constant Montpellier, Dominic Gravel, Sergio Almeralla, Christopher Fiola, and Jake Maarse. Constant, Sergio, and Christopher proudly wear team Il Peloton skinsuits. Photo by Alicia Weiss.

Quebec City, November 16, 2012- This past weekend was a great kickoff to the MSI series for 2012 - 2013 with the first marathon event, hosted by MSI Director Gaétan Rochette and Quebec City. On Saturday, a number of skaters enjoyed a warmup skate on the beautiful oval around mid-day, in preparation for the 21km marathon skate at 5:30 p.m.. With approximately 50 skaters at the start line on Saturday evening, the ice was glistening, temperatures were hovering around freezing and winds were mild. Many spectators enjoyed a great race with exciting finishes for both the men and women in the 21 km distance. For the men, first, second and third place finishers were Daniel Dubreuil, Alexandre Dery and Christopher Fiola, all of whom are in the under 20 age category. For the women, Anika Bedard had a strong finish, followed closely by Suzanne Dionne and Jennifer Benediktson.

On Sunday, an 8:30 AM start and the threat of rain did not discourage 13 women who competed in the Women's Artic Roses 10km race. With a sprint finish for the final 40 meters, Suzanne Dionne crossed the line first with Sandy Ramer and Jennifer Boyer a fraction of a second behind.

Over 30 skaters did challenge a light rain on and off for the one hour challenge. What an exciting race that was, with records broken by the men and an equally strong skate by the women. Christopher Fiola, who is only 16 years old, placed first, with Constant Monpelier less than a second behind him, and Dominique Gravel finishing a close third - all broke the record for the QC One Hour Challenge with a whopping 89 laps completed. Anika Bedard won for the women with 72 laps, followed closely by Jennifer Benediktson with 71 laps and Catherine Kwiecien in third with 70.

Many thanks to Gaétan Rochette and his team for the superb organization of the QC marathon. Special thanks to Phillipe Gagnon and Ursula Hendel for their colourful commentation of the races. The QC marathon was a huge success! Results are available at MyLaps.com.

- Catherine Kwiecien

Greetings and Welcome to the 2012 – 2013 MSI season!

Be sure to check out the great lineup of events  and mark your calendars now so you don’t miss out this season.  Check back frequently for updates on our schedule as some arrangements are still being finalized. 

New this year !!! Check out what our organizers have arranged new this year  …

  • Champlain Islands Ice Marathon, north of Burlington, Vermont 

Check out the website of the Great Ice Event from last year, to see the activities scheduled in past year – perhaps a winter destination for the whole family.  This year will feature the MSI marathons as well -  read the news release announcing the inclusion of MSI in this popular event.   Stay tuned as details become  finalized.

  • A Quebec Series of half marathons, at St. Foy, QC

There are 3 additional weekends, each featuring a 21 km event on Saturday, followed by long track racing the next day.  Schedule still being finalized.  

If you haven’t thought about last year’s events in a while, you can check out the season’s overall standings, as well as the individual event results - 2011 – 2012 Season Results .  Congratulations to Suzanne Dionne and Constant Montpellier, both from Quebec, for  finishing top Female and Male for the season!  Also, enjoy a reflection on the 2011-2012 season, written by our own Frank Cherry.

Are you looking for that ultimate marathoning challenge this season?  Consider the 25th anniversary of the Alternative Elfstedentocht of Weissensee (ok, that’s Austria!) or, to stick closer to home, Sylvan Lake Alberta

Wanna look good this year, on your way to your marathons?  Check out the MSI Store for jackets and knit toques.

Hope to see you on Nov. 10 in Quebec!

Headlines for the 2011/2012 Season:
2013 Marks the 25th Anniversary of the Alternative Elfstedentocht of Weissensee
Announcing Champlain Islands Ice Marathon for 2013
Reflections on the 2011/2012 Skating Season
Announcing the New MSI Store
Hailfax, 'Skate the Common'
Pentathlon, Quebec City
Silver Lake 50km
One in a Million: Jake Maarse (links to Ottawa Citizen website)
'Skate the Lake' Marathon report, Portland, ON
New MSI Jackets Debut (softshell)
2012 Ottawa Marathon: Green Shoots and Rock-hard Ice
Marathon de Québec, a Great Success!
First Skating Tour of the 2011/2012 Season

2013 Marks the 25th Anniversary of the Alternative Elfstedentocht of Weissensee

1 April 2012- The world’s biggest and longest races and tours on natural ice begin on January 22, 2013, and will be held until February 2. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the Alternatieve Elfstedentocht of Weissensee, the famous 11 Cities Race, in Austria. During that time there will chances to skate 50 km, 100 km, and the legendary 200 km tour, planned on Tuesdays and Fridays. Anyone and everyone can do the tours. There are about 1,500 participants of all levels.

Besides the opportunity to skate every day, the area offers lots of other activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and of course, watching pro skaters racing in the different distances.

You don't have to register in advance. Just show up and register on site. Those interested mustof course plan your trip: airplane ticket, car, lodging, etc. One week is fine to enjoy the different activities, but the second week may be the best: the Netherland Championship 80-100km. 

- Text and photographs by Charles Beaudoin, who skated Weissensee in 2011 and 2012. He plans to go there again in 2013.

Announcing New Marathon for 2013:
Champlain Islands Ice Marathon

25 March 2012- MSI is pleased to announce the addition of a new marathon location as part of the MSI series for 2012-2013. As a result of conversations between MSI President Neal Hundt and organizers of the annual "Great Ice" festival in North Hero, Vermont, marathon skating will be on the program next year.

The "Great Ice" festival is the result of a partnership between a number of organizations and businesses in the Burlington and Champlain Islands area. Key sponsors are LocalMotion, a member-supported non-profit organization promoting people-powered transportation and recreation for healthy and sustainable Vermont communities; Hero's Welcome General Store, located in a century-old building on the shore of Lake Champlain (whose picnic area is shown in the photo, above; it overlooks the oval on City Bay); and the Lake Champlain Islands Chamber of Commerce.

Bob Camp, co-owner of Hero's Welcome General Store, told MSI that his store maintains the skating oval each winter. Using a plow, an ice "mower" to shave bumps off the ice, and a Vermont-made Bambini that coats the ice with warm water, Bob and his crew created a 1-kilometer oval for this year's "Great Ice" event. On a visit to the area this past February 12, MSI first skated the oval on Nordic skates. After deeming the ice smooth enough for speedskates, off came the Nordics and on came the klapskates for a set of laps on the natural ice venue overlooking Vermont's highest peak, Mt. Mansfield .

Located on the east side of the Champlain Islands on what is called the "Inland Sea," the marathon site is only 100 km from Montreal and 34 miles north of Burlington. Ferry service connects the island with Plattsburgh, New York. Far enough north to ensure solid ice by February, MSI is delighted to have "Great Ice" and its sponsors as partners in holding a marathon.

The dates for the marathon are February 9 and 10, 2013. Since all natural ice venues are subject to the whims of nature, we may be able to secure February 16 and 17 as a backup if ice quality is an issue.

We envision a weekend of racing for skaters of all abilities. Given the proximity to Burlington, we hope to attract and create new converts to marathon skating by offering 1-, 2-, 5-, and 10-km races, all with electronic timing. The public will then be treated to a display of marathon skating, as MSI's dedicated and elite racers compete in a 25km on Saturday and a 40km on Sunday. If ice conditions permit skating beyond the oval, perhaps the entire Inland Sea could be the scene of an even longer distance event.

Skaters need nourishment and a place to stay, too. Our marathon headquarters and official host hotel will be the North Hero House. Proprietor Walter Blasberg tells MSI that his lakeside property has 26 rooms with accomodations for 50 people and a restaurant that seats 82. Leave your car in the parking lot and it's a short walk to the lake or the Hero's Welcome store for souvenirs or an espresso.

MSI looks forward to plannig this event and to making it a successful addition to the MSI marathon series. If you happen to be riding your bicycle this summer on the Lake Champlain Bikeway, stop in at North Hero and say hi to Bob and Walter. Later, visit the Lake Champlain Islands Chamber of Commerce; Ruth Wallman can give you excellent advice to make your visit even more enjoyable. If you can't visit the area before the marathon, you can visit it any day via the web cam on the Hero's Welcome general store.

Below: Location of North Hero, VT. GPS coordinates help show the actual location of the oval in 2012 in the inset, below.

Questions? Contact race director Neal Hundt, nealhundt at yahoo dot com.

Reflections on the 2011/2012 Skating Season

17 March 2012
- Despite the challenges of fickle natural ice, marathon speed skating enjoyed a full and pleasurable season. Unseasonably warm weather was a never-ending concern this past winter. Yet despite the threat of warm temperatures, water froze and speedskating marathons on ice were held.

Ste-Foy (Quebec City) kicked off the season once again bolstered by great refrigerated ice and sharp race administration spear-headed by Gaetan Rochette.

Promising green shoots appeared in Calgary where a 50 lap marathon event was staged indoors on the Olympic oval.  We hope that those young skaters are the harbinger of more to come next year. 

The Lake Placid marathon always seems subject to the reluctance of the operators to open the Olympic Oval in December. This year, lingering warm weather delayed the marathon nearly eight hours, causing a last minute start at sunset. Despite the uncertainty, a strong field of skaters showed up at the starting line.

The Ottawa race (Brewers Park) was touch and go because of  warm weather which book-ended the event.  But Jake Maarse and his crew tipped their hats to Lady Luck, and bright sunshine attenuated the brisk cold, which guaranteed great ice.  Organization was impeccable, and, to top it off, Jake was interviewed by the Ottawa Citizen a few days later and was the feature of a very complimentary article.

Wim Kok put together a marathon event in Fort St. John, BC, in the community-sponsored, covered, 400m oval, allowing MSI to go coast-to-coast from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. (click here to go to YouTube to watch a video about the unique facility, the Pomeroy Sport Centre)

The Big Rideau race in Portland, ON, dodged the warm weather bullet and relied on a strong volunteer crew to pull off an excellent community event, now in it’s 7th year!

Skate the Common in Halifax was on the verge of being a one-year-wonder when the solons of Halifax decided to keep the oval and to promote it.  Sheia McGinn was the point person for this burgeoning event, which included a winter triathon and, yes, a sledge race!

Gaetan Rochette stepped up to the plate a second time and put together a series of races called The Skaters’ Challenge on the Plains of Abraham, site of the historic 1759 battlefield of the Seven Years’ War.  Significant here is that he is attracting a number of new skaters.  And, who doesn’t love to come to Quebec City?

The US Nationals were plagued by warm Minnesota (sounds like an oxymoron) weather for a second year, but managed to snatch victory by staging the championship, for the first time, on indoor ice at the West Allis, WI, world-class oval known as the Pettit National Ice Center.

The highlight of the season, at least for this writer, was the full-blown, bifecta marathon skating juggernaut offered by the organizers of the Silver Skate Festival in Edmonton and the Sylvan Lake races engineered by the Foothills Speed Skating Club in Red Deer, half the distance to Calgary.

Where else can you go and experience two spectacular venues, with Zamboni-quality natural ice, and skate three days, rest three days, and then skate three more days, on ovals of 1- and 5-km??  Both events have a winter carnival atmosphere, with a distinct Dutch flavor.  Both featured very strong skaters in the lead packs.  With skating this good so close, there’s no need to go Weissensee, Austria: Go to Alberta first!

As we close the season, we invite you to view the articles, photographs, and videos on your MSI site, all of which document this great season of marathon skating that just came to a close. While our minds may now start dreaming of warm weather activities, stayed tuned for next week’s MSI feature article.  Marathon Skating International will announce a new marathon for 2012/2013 season at a venue located only one hour from Montreal. Stay tuned!

- Frank Cherry

Announcing the New MSI Store

MSI has three styles of jackets from which to choose. Whether it's our classic 'Team' jacket (pictured on the Zamboni driver, at left) or our soft shell jacket made with high-tech materials, you're sure to look like a winner wearing one of these. Visit the MSI store to view all three options. You'll find descriptions, sizing information, and links for ordering. Help spread the news about marathon skating by wearing the MSI jacket!

We also have a knit hat available. Visit the
MSI store today to expand your sporting wardrobe!

Final Results of the 2012 Skate the Common Marathon

Emera Oval, Halifax NS, February 18-19, 2012- There was something for everyone at the Skate the Common Marathon this year – from an introductory level 5K Family Race to a very competitive 25K, and including two new events: Tri-the-Oval, a skate-bike-run winter triathlon, and the 3K Top Blade Sledge Race, both firsts for the Common.

Jake Maarse of North Gower ON, who skated all three skating marathon distances, was the overall winner of the 5K and 10K, and came second in the 25K.  Landon Zeeman (photo, right) was the overall winner of the 25K and the Triathlon, finishing his 25K with a 36 second lap in a sprint to the finish. 

Above, right: Landon Zeeman in the lead at the 25K; photo by Elio Dolente.

Left: Warming up for the 5K Family Race; photo by Peter Steeper.  


Right: Dave Waters and Vicki Morton Photo by Peter Steeper.

Complete results are available here.

Fifteen sledge hockey players from the Annapolis Valley, Cape Breton, and the Halifax Regional Municipality competed in the 3K sledge race. Sledge racing is the Paralympic version of speed skating, and was included in the Winter Paralympic Games from 1980 to 1988, and in 1994 and 1998.

(Below: Start of the 10K Hockey/Speed Skate Challenge; photo by Peter Steeper)

More pictures by the marathon's official photographer, PeterSteeper.ca,  are available here.

Skate the Common 2012

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
The Emera Oval on the Halifax Common, site of the first-ever ice marathon in Halifax last year, again was the scene for marathon skating on February 18, 2012.

Olympian Benoît Lamarche Wins the Skating Challenge of the Winter Pentathlon

Quebec City, Canada, 5 February 2012- Benoît Lamarche, speed skating Olympian, President of the Gaétan Boucher National Training Center, and in charge of the oval on the Plains of Abraham, took off from the peloton with 800 meters to go and copped first place in the 25km race of the speed skating challenge on the oval, part of the Quebec City Winter Carnival activities. He completed the distance in 48:05. Lamarche and Christopher Fiola, second place, took turns at the head of the peloton for most of the race. Michel Jean arrived in third place.

As for the women, the young Cynthia Beaulieu passed the leading female racer in the MSI series Suzanne Dionne from Ottawa, to take first place. Claudiane Ouellet-Pamondon came in third place.

Earlier in the day, Mathieu Leblanc came in first in the 7.5km race with a time of 14:06. Claudia Bisson crossed the finish line in 16:02, the best time in the women’s division.

Public skating session: The beautiful oval of the Winter Pentathlon is open to the public. You may consult the daily schedule at www.pentathlondesneiges.com.

The Winter Pentathlon is a non-for-profit organization with a mission to promote winter sports as a daily activity as well as for touristic events. Sponsored by the Quebec Triathlon and the Speed Skating Federation, the Winter Pentathlon is unique in the world and currently the largest event of this sort in Canada in terms of numbers of participants.

In order to participate in this event the athletes must compete in the following disciplines: biking, running, cross-country skiing, skating and snow shoeing. It can be done as a solo. in tandem, or as part of a team. For more information, contact Marie-Eve Chevrette, mechevrette at pentathlondesneiges.com.

- Translation provided by Nicole Cherry

A peloton in the 25K at the 22nd Annual Silver Skate Festival on February 18, 2012. Photo by Larry Wong, edmontonjournal.com.

20 Feb 2012, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada- Robert Winter beat Ray Cislo by a difference of five seconds to take first place in the 50km marathon held during the Silver Skate Festival at William Hawrelak Park. Visit MSI Results for links to time charts for the 1-, 10-, 25- and 50km events. A two-minute video shows great weather, great ice, and great stamina in the 50km race.

Edmonton Journal:
Nothing says Silver Skate Festival like raw fish, maple taffy and dog sleds

Elfstedentoch... It Almost Happened

A feature story about Jake Maarse appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on February 3, 2012. A video accompanies this fine article about one of MSI's finest skaters. Link to article

Report on 'Skate the Lake'

The 8th Annual Skate the Lake was held in Portland Ontario, about an hour north of Kingston, on Saturday, January 28, 2012. Unlike the Ottawa Marathon two weeks earlier, where temperatures necessitated extra layers of clothing, balaclavas, and goggles, the weather in Portland was downright balmy for the spectators. Skaters were able to shed layers while skating laps on the 1 km track on Big Rideau Lake.

The ice crew worked furiously during the week leading up to the event, and worked through the night until the sun came up on race day. Mother Nature threw lots of challenges but the community of Portland, with the help of their Zamboni, was able to hold the event and have a great day!

The day started with the National Anthem, a custom for Skate the Lake!

The 5 and 10 km races provided some excitement with Sergio Almeralla of Ottawa winning both, crossing the line less than a second ahead of Adrian Loewen in the 10 km. For the women, Marketa Graham finished first, followed closely by a number of strong teenage skaters. Sue Warren, one of the main event organizers, finished a full minute ahead of her competition in the 5 km race.

Due to the sun's warming rays (which delighted spectators) and softening of the ice, the 50 km race was cancelled. Thirty skaters gathered beneath the "Skate the Lake" banner for the start of the 25 km marathon. Constant Montpellier was back on track with his winning streak, finishing ahead of Adrian Loewen, while Suzanne Dionne finished a fraction of a second ahead of Jen Benediktson, a newbie on the marathon circuit. It was a beautiful day to have the opportunity to skate 25 laps on lake ice!

Following the 25mk, attention turned to a fun relay race. Each member of the five-person team was cheered on as they handed off to the next skater on their team for their 1 km lap. This event saw a number of kids teams. The activity on the ice finished up with a kids' 5 km race, with skaters as young as 7 years old impressing the crowds with their determination to complete 5 laps. A kilometer track is a long way around for a kid and it can be lonely out there ... not only a physical challenge but also a mental one! These are our future marathoners!

Many thanks go to the John Bongers, President of Portland Outdoors, his many many volunteers, and to Marco Smitts, Past President. It took the whole community to "pull it off" - what a community! See you next year Portland!

- Catherine Kwiecien, with photos by John Truyens (password 'cool')

Return to top

Want to read more? See the press release on the Portland Outdoors website.

The Lastest in Fashion for 2012: Debut of New MSI Jackets

Download the specifications and ordering information.

20 Jan 2012, Ottawa, Ontario-Last week’s marathon races in Ottawa produced a number of surprises—all good!

Cold weather came on strong a few days before the races leaving skaters with rock-solid, perfect ice. Masks and goggles were de rigueur, but no skaters went into the danger zone because of the cold.

Skating in their first marathons, Caleb Hovey and Ellie Anderson, both 14 years old, made strong statements, especially Caleb who rode with the lead pack in both races, placing a close 7th in the 21km and a very close 4th in the 42km. Ellie finished lower in the standings for the 21km, but skated with great flair and promise. MSI welcomes these green shoots!

Two highlights from the 21km: great tactical movments between a very strong lead pack and Sergio Almeralla and Stephane Tremblay, with Sergio besting Stephane in the sprint. Biggest surprise was Constant Montpellier, a former professional jockey, who was 3 laps down when he stepped on the ice. Far from being discouraged, he turned on the after-burners and started his pursuit, finishing fourth by a couple of seconds. The next day Constant edged out Sergio in the sprint for the 42km race.

Worth mentioning here is that Brewers Skate Park is run 100% by volunteers who prepare and maintain the ice and manage the warming huts via a concession and small grant from the city of Ottawa. When the cold weather sets in the volunteers, lead by Sue Townley, lay out the side boards and flood some 8 inches of water/ice. This is a great, successful example of self-reliance and hard work.

Finally, the race organization and registration were done to perfection by Jake and Mary Maarse, including an important sponsorship and a significant donation to a charity. Worthy of emulation by all race directors.


- Written by Frank Cherry - Photos by 'Wilby'

Marathon de Québec, a Great Success!

Text: Gaétan Rochette, translation from French, Anika Bédard, edited by Neal Hundt.
Photo: Martin St-Amant - Wikipedia - CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Marathon de Québec was held at the Gaétan-Boucher oval on November 19 and 20, 2011, in collaboration with Chrono Multi Sport, MSI and the Fédération de Patinage de Vitesse de Québec. This first event successfully launched the 2011-2012 season of the Marathon series on ice, attracting over 60 skaters registered in three races: 25km, 10km, and One Hour Challenge. Weather conditions were good on Saturday with no wind and mild temperatures, but Sunday’s races took place under heavy rain and increasing winds.

25km Race: The starting line saw 53 skaters. The highlight was the participation of seven young skaters from the Gaétan-Boucher National Center. Everyone was impressed by their speed and technique, and, of course, they finished in the top positions in the overall standings. They told us that they loved the experience and that they would love to do it again next year.

In the female category, Anika Bédard (Quebec) finished first with a time of 47:04 minutes, followed by Kathy Feinberg  (Rochester, NY) with a time of 47:29 and Suzanne Dionne (Ottawa) in third position at 48:19.

In the men's category, Dominique Gravel, a former national skater, finished first in 40:00 minutes, just a few tenths of a second from the winning time of François Déry, currentlya member of the National Center. In second position, Constant Montpellier from Montreal (40-49) impressed everyone with his time of 40:31, followed in third position by Pierre-Olivier Boily (42:00,840).

(Photo, Pierre Gagné )

The ice marathon skater legend, Pierre Gagné, did a comeback at 78 years old and skated the 25km under one hour (59:14). Pierre is a real inspiration to all of us.



10km Artic Roses: This women-only race was added this year to attract more female skaters to racing in a less intimidating and more secure environment, givinv more visibility to female racing. The race took place under difficult weather conditions with rain and wind, but according to the skaters, they still enjoyed it. The fastest women kept a pace for the first laps, and four sprinted at the end (from first to fourth place): Suzanne Dionne, Jennifer Boyer, Deb Baxter and Sue Steckle.

One Hour Challenge: This race took place in more difficult conditions than Saturday because of heavy rain and strong wind. In the women's category, Anika Bédard again took first place by completing 74 laps, followed by Catherine Kwiecien (72 laps) who crossed the finish line two seconds before Geneviève Provencher (72 laps) in third place. In the men's category, our star from Montreal, Constant Montpellier, completed an impressive 82 laps in front of Jake Maarse (79 laps) and Nathan Feinberg (77 laps). With his 82 laps, Constant broke a 2009 MSI record of 81 laps previously held by Sergio Almeralla in Lake Placid.
Maurice Gagné, brother of Pierre Gagné, also completed the challenge by doing 74 laps, completing as many laps as his age; he took 7th place in the overall standings.

Fastest Lap: To add some excitement to the 25km race, the organisers gave a cash prize to the female and male skaters with the fastest lap. The prizes went to Anika Bédard (Women 40-49), who skated an outstanding 38,486 seconds, and Constant Montpellier with a time of 32,989 seconds. Samuel Descormiers of the National Gaétan-Boucher Centre, who skated outside the competition, clocked the overall fastest lap at 30,933.

Caboose Award: The organizing committee decided to instate the Caboose Award to recognize the perseverance of beginner skaters. The prize refers to the last and very characteristic wagon of a train, the caboose, and to a Dutch skating tradition which offers a red lantern to the last skater on the track at the end of a race. This year this award was offered to Willard Roelofs of Edmonton, Alberta.

Finally, as many as 59 skaters came to this first event of 2011-2012 MSI season. The organisers were very pleased with this turnout, as well as for the event itself. The volunteers did an outstanding job, including he announcer François Caletta, who described the race very professionally.

First Skating Tour of the 2011/2012 Season

Text by Willem Langenberg and MSI news editor Neal Hundt. Photos by Harm De Groot.

12 Nov 2011- Big Lake, Alberta, Canada. Marathon skaters had their first skate of the 2011/2012 season on natural ice on a newly frozen lake just northwest of Edmonton. Cars showed up at Big Lake as soon as the phone call went out (above). Avid skaters arrived by bicycle (below, left), and even the dogs came out to sample the first ice of the season (below, right)

Once everyone had their gear on, the skating began. Hard to believe these picture were taken on November 12!

Here's a report from the organizer of the day's tour and MSI skater Willem Langenberg:

"Two centimeters of wet snow on top of turned Big Lake into a slush pond overnight. The course was shortened from a 8 km loop to a 1.7 km path with sharp turnarounds.

"Nine skaters were at the start. Seven additional skaters showed up but decided not to skate because of bad conditions. Brian Johnston hit a hole, fell, got wet to his waist and got a bloodied face (see below); he abandoned the tour. Robert Winter missed the bridge over a pressure ridge, got wet and also abandoned the tour. Willem Langenberg hit the deck after going through the ice near a muskrat home. He split his lip but was able to continue. Four more skaters quit and in the end it came down to a sprint between Willem Langenberg and Susan Cameron. Willem won the men's division and Susan the women's."

(Beautiful smooth, clear ice on Big Lake in Alberta, below)


Skating on natural ice is not without its hazards. Thin ice brought injuries to the faces of a few skaters (left). More than one skater went through the ice and into the shallow, cold waters of the lake. Yet as these smiling faces profess, it was nevertheless a great day and a great beginning of the 2011/2012 ice marathon skating season!



Headlines for the 2010/2011 Season
Il Peloton Wins Montreal 24h
Montreal Ready to Roll
Mass Start, Mass Excitement
2011 Silver Skate Report
Sylvan Lake: Closing the Season with a 50, 100km Marathon and Tour
Spirit of 11 Town Race Crosses the Ocean to Sylvan Lake
MSI Jackets Debut in Weissensee
MSI Goes to Weissensee
North American Marathon Cancelled due to Record-breaking Snows
Skate the Lake Marathon' Returned to Portland, Ontario
First Marathon in Halifax a Huge Success
MSI to Visit Weissensee- Video Preview
My Transition from Inline to Ice Top Story
Starting Guns Fire in Quebec City: Marathons Begin
Lake Placid Oval to Host Marathon
Skate the Common in Halifax!
Welcome to the 2010-2011 Season
Kudos for Gaétan Rochette

Headlines for the 2009/2010 Season

Il Peloton Team Wins Montreal 24h

The Il Pelton 24h Racing Team, trackside, in Montreal. Go to Il Pelton facebook Site for photo description.

September 5, 2011- Our friends at Inline Planet and Speedskate World did a great job reporting this event. We direct you to their sites for complete racing reports, videos, and photos of the race:
- Inline Planet
- SPEEDskateworld

Or, visit the official website, http://www.24inline.com.

Montreal Ready to Roll

Photo: The start of the 2008 Roller de Montreal Marathon



Montreal is fast becoming a mecca for inline skating not only because of the miles of smooth-asphalt, dedicated bike paths which blanket the city and environs, but also for the Gilles Villeneuve Formula 1 race track which has been the venue of a number of marquee roller events.

MSI Timing strongly supports the notion of « crossover », that is, skaters who start on ice and migrate to track or vice versa.  The number of Olympic skaters who have done this validates the idea.

When a group of organizers from the VRL inline club (Philippe Candelier, Nathalie Larouche and Philippe Gagnon) decided  in 2006 to stage a 42 km race (and shorter distances) in the Montreal area, MSI Timing readily accepted to provide MyLaps chip timing with a cost structure which would help this new event get off the ground.

Last summer was the fifth running of this event which attracted over 210 competitors and was included as a « Major Event » within the NROC series.  This turnout is compatible with other inline races in cities such as New York, Ottawa, and St. Paul. Success has been achieved with virtually no advertising, minimal sponsorship, and the help of many volunteers. The organizers hope to make this marathon a signature event for inline racing in North America.

This year’s running of the Marathon Roller Montreal will take place on July 16th on the PMG race track at Blainville, located about 25 miles north of Montreal.  This track, mainly used for car races, is a 3.2 km loop which offers spectators an unobstructed view of the entire course.  (In prior years the race was staged at the Gilles Villeneuve track adjacent to downtown Montreal.) To show support for a sister sport, MSI will donate two team jackets to the male and female winners of the 42 km marathon.

- Frank Cherry

Mass Start, Mass Excitement

6 March 2011, Heerenveen, The Netherlands- A demonstration 10K mass start race was held today at the World Cup in Heerenveen in front of 16,000 spectators. The field of 36 skaters included well-known names such as Koen Verweij, Jonathan Kuck, Bob de Jong, KC Boutiette, Richard MacLennan and Alec Jensens. The result: exciting racing, received by an enthusiastic crowd.

KC Boutiette
 “I’m just here to have fun,” said KC Boutiette to a reporter from Schaatsen.NL (photo, left). Boutiette, a four-time Olympian, went on to provide an enthusiastic endorsement of marathon skating. “Hopefully in the next Olympics we can get more interest in this type of skating.” Watch the video interview on the Skate Netherlands website, schaatsen.nl, then view the mass start video.

- By Willem Langenberg, President, Marathon Skating International

2011 Silver Skate Report

Silver Skate snow sculpture

20 Feb,Edmonton- Three marathon races were held during the 2011 Silver Skate Festival. The Festival started very cold and finished with balmy temperatures on Monday. Saturday morning started out at -28 degrees C. The start of the 1km challenge race was delayed by an hour, until 10 o’clock. By this time it was a balmy -22 degrees C. Undaunted were 31 skaters ranging in age from 10 to 70. The Hill family took the top 3 positions, with the former North American marathon champion, Jackson, taking first spot; Emily, taking second place; and family patriarch Blaine taking third. New Edmonton Speed Skating Association (ESSA) member Robert Winter took forth, while Camden Chabot took fifth. ESSA had great participation from its younger skaters, including Celina Chabot, Cooper and Casey Riess and Victoria Goplen to name a few. Complete results can be found at MyLaps.com.

The 25k event was reduced to 10km due to temperature conditions. We still had 36 competitors. First and second place were taken by ESSA skaters Blaine Hill, and Robert Winter respectively. Third place was taken by Stacey Mateika from Red Deer. Wim Zwanenburg, from the Netherlands placed fourth. Wim came over especially to skate in Alberta International skating week, while his wife, Lettie, skated here and at the World Masters Games in Calgary.

Silver Lake Marathon and Edmonton skylineThe 10km event on Sunday had 35 competitors. Once again, Blaine Hill placed first, with daughter Emily second and Red Deer skater Rick Dykstra placing third. Stacey Mateka from Red Deer placed fourth with ESSA skater Robert Winter placing fifth. There were 14 or 15 skaters in the lead pack for these races and lots of jostling for position which made for an exciting sprint to the finish.

On Monday we had a fun 25km race in the morning, which was won by the intrepid sprinter Tim Hartel, with Natalya Rybakova placing second and Greg Jansen placing third. We also had a fun 5km in the afternoon which saw 30 youngsters skate the 5km distance. Attendance records were set at Hawrelak Park with the weather moderating and the general public trying to recover from the cabin fever caused by the cold weather. 

Silver Lake Marathon peloton

These races are held with the support of our title sponsor, Northgate Industries, the Edmonton Speed Skating Association and the assistance of our able-bodied volunteers who braved the elements. In addition to organizing the marathon racing, 1km challenge, kortebaan sprint racing, and the 10km of the winter triathlon, ESSA also looked after the warm-up tent in the athletes' village (consisting of two tents complete with wood stoves this year), the long track skate rental program, and setting up the short track demonstration. 

Thank-you’s go out to Jules Chabot, Kathy Gregg, Marcia Langenberg, Jeff Davis, Judy Sara, Ryley Tennant, Emil Tennant, Bavie Sara, Tom Lipsett, Ann Bradley, Genesis Magat, Glen Williams, Phil Kettles, Angele Chabot, Napolean Forcade, Arun Bakshi, Walter Kehl, Jessie Wang, Rob Hees, Jennifer Riess, Oliver Little, Grant Keir, John Bruner, Sean Maw, Bavie Sara, Mike Zukiwski, Marjorie Theriault and Daneila Bere. I wish to also acknowledge the assistance of the fellow Silver Skate Festival Society board members Carol Russ, Willem Langenberg, Russel Gottschalk, Jeff Davis, Harm Willem de Groot and staff members Erin diLoretto and Ritchie Velthuis. The combination of the snow sculptures, music, dancing, fire, figure skating, skiing, snow shoeing, sleigh rides, dog sleds, running and all the speed skating events make this Edmonton’s premier winter festival.

- By Brian Johnston (photos by Harm Willem de Groot)

Closing the Season with a
50, 100km Marathon and Tour

27 Feb 2011- The 2010-2011 marathon season for Canada and the US had its official end this weekend in central Alberta Province. The season concluded on Saturday, 26 Feb, with the Sylvan Lake Speedskating Marathon and its annual 100km race and tour. Hosted by the Foothills Speed Skating Marathon Organization, forty-two skaters left the starting line at 9:00 AM under clear but cold skies. Later in the day, a 25km marathon was held for younger skaters, with eight starting and five finishing.

This summary of the 2011 Sylvan Lake marathon is supplemented with photographs taken by Annie Muilwijk. Results of the marathons, as recorded by MSI Sports Timing, are available for the 50km marathon held on 24 Feb and the 25km and 100km.

The 2010-2011 marathon season saw record snowfall across North America. While heavy snows caused the cancellation of the National Marathon in Bemidji, Minnesota, and the North American Marathon Championship at Lake Morey, Vermont, snow had no impact on Sylvan Lake, Alberta. Three feet (90cm) of ice on Sylvan Lake ensured that no amount of snow could stop the marathons. A 5km track was plowed (see photo, below), and ice provided by Mother Nature was further refined by flooding, then polished by a Zamboni.

Sylvan Lake snows
MSI President Willem Langenberg was among the 20 skaters that finished the 100km marathon. “Sylvan Lake was a great event, although cold and windy,” said Willem. If skaters were not looking at the scenery of the surrounding countryside, the frost on their face masks (see photo, below, left) were a reminder that winter was far from over in Canada’s Alberta Province. Hot beverages were a welcome relief by cold skaters, perhaps served with Dutch chocolate? (note the headgear, below, right)

Reminiscent of the skating trail on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa or alongside the canals of Holland, a number of warming huts provided shelter from the wind (below). An overpass in the distance, towering above the track, was among the many elements that helped make this a magnificent venue.

Huts at Sylvan Lake

Sharing the podium (below) are the winners of Thursday's 50km marathon. Rick Dijkstra took first place, followed by Berend Ridder, only .821 seconds behind the leader. Thanks for the precise timing, MSI!

The 100km winners at Sylan Lake 2011

The organizers and sponsors are to be congratulated for their efforts and support of this annual event.  The number of sponsors was exceptional, as evidenced by the banners near the finish line (left) and signs behind the winners’ podium, flowers, and trophies (below).

The success of the 2011 Sylvan Lake Speedskating Marathon, from the infrastructure built on the ice to the participation of skaters from as far away as The Netherlands, lead Willem Langenberg to say of the organizers, “These guys are ready for the North American marathon in 2012.”

Congratulations to all who came to Sylvan Lake to celebrate marathon speedskating at its finest.

Spirit of 11 Town Race Crosses the Ocean to Sylvan Lake

Silver Skate Marathon

In 2000 Evert van Benthem emigrated from the Netherlands to Alberta, Canada, arriving as one of Holland’s most decorated marathon ice skaters.  In his baggage were winner’s medals for the Eleven Town Race (1985 and 1986), the most high profile and prestigious race in the country.  This race runs on the canals through 11 towns in the province of Friesland.

While looking for a dairy farm near Red Deer, Alberta, Evert came upon Sylvan Lake and thought this would be an ideal location for a marathon race. In 2003 a core group of families (van Benthem, Appel, and Yff) staged  a 50 km race/tour on the lake.  Lacking community support, the event took a hiatus until 2005 when the professional marathon skating team from Holland flew over to skate  50 km and 200 km races. 

Then in 2010 Dirk and Elizabeth Appel and a group of local skaters garnered strong support from the town of Sylvan Lake and staged a very successful 50 km race/tour on a 2.5 km track.

The races this year are a 50 km race/tour on Thursday, February 24 and a 100 km on Saturday, February 26th.

This year the organizers have teamed up with the Silver Skates Festival and created the Alberta International Speed Skating Championship—a series of 4 races over an 8 day period, in Edmonton and Sylvan Lake—Feb 19/26.  Skaters with the lowest aggregate times take the awards.

MSI Jackets Debut in Weissensee

Updated January, 2012- Now you have a choice of two jackets. See the latest design

7 February 2011- Among the gear carried to Weissensee by MSI skaters were new jackets bearing the MSI logo. Sporting jackets custom-made by MSI tailors (aka Jammin Ideas LLC) are super models Gaétan Rochette and MSI President Willem Langenberg (below, front row, left and right). The jackets, made with 4-way stretch fabrics, offer a close comfortable fit and great freedom of movement. With the MSI logo over the left breast and a larger logo across the back (with the words "Marathon Skating International"), these jackets were a great conversation starter at the annual gathering of skaters in Weissensee. Order yours today by visiting the MSI store at Jammin.

MSI team in Weissenssee
(Photo: From left to right, front row: Gaétan Rochette, Jim Cornell, Willem Langenberg; back row: Gary Golplen, Charles Beaudoin, Yves Garneau, Jake Maarse, Dan Snipes (former organizer of Lake Morey marathons, now living in The Netherlands)

MSI has partnered with Jammin Custom Apparel, a leader in custom-created Sportswear.  Jammin is located in the US and the jackets are made in the US.

Here are the advantages of having an MSI jacket to complement your wardrobe, both on and off the ice:
• By wearing the MSI jacket you help establish the MSI brand and get the word out to new skaters.
• There is no minimum order—each jacket is individually made for you when you place your order.
• Price is the same for one jacket or several.
• Sizing runs from Youth XS to Adult XL, unisex. Consult the sizing chart.
• Orders delivered within 2 to 4 weeks.
• MSI worked with Jammin to keep the price affordable:  USD $99 plus shipping--$5.00 more for larger sizes.

Orders for shipment to Canada- Because this involves export documentation, orders cannot be placed via the MSI webstore.  Please call 1-800-852-6646.  Orders will be shipped by 3-day Fedex at an approximate  all-in, prepaid, cost of $25-30 for one jacket including mandatory broker fee of $10 (per shipment) and estimated GST.

MSI Participates in Alternative Version of the Traditional Eleven Towns Race

Jake Maarse in Weissenssee

7 Feb 2011- Eight skaters from MSI traveled to Weissensee, Austria, for a major skating happening (races, tours, festivities, and cameraderie) held from January 24 to February 2. Every year this typical Austrian village opens its arms to a hoard of Dutch long-distance skaters. The menu of marathon events covers distances from 12 km to 200 km, or more, if you are up to it. The Icemeister is equipped with a batallion of machinery to groom natural ice into the closest you can get to black ice, other than for the fissures and cracks which come with the territory.


Jake Maarse, above, wears a big smile, happy to be on the ice in Weissensee. He proudly wears a hat with the MSI logo. A founder of MSI, Jake is one of the most dedicated and best ambassadors for the sport of marathon skating. While in Austria, he spoke with representatives from the media about his goal of having marathon skating in the Olympics.

Left, a peloton skates by the camera of Charles Beaudoin. Charles was among the MSI skaters visiting Weissensee.


Wednesday, January 26, Snelle Toer/AET Masters/Weissensee

Jim Cornell, Yves Garneau, and Charles Beaudoin went all out at the start of this running of the 200 km Alternative Eleven Towns race. Key factors at play were : the présence of a team of 19 near-elite skaters which set a blistering pace; and, there were no age groups. Our MSI skaters were able to stick with the lead (and only) pack for about 50 km except for Jim who completed the distance, at an impressive speed on this 12.5 km track. until he was dropped by the pack. The other MSI skaters chose not to continue after they were dropped because it meant skating alone.

Jim Cornell:  15 laps in 6:33:07 at an average speed of 28.56 kph (note that the official scorer took off  his last lap because he had been lapped.)
Charles Beaudoin: 6 laps in 2:35:44 ( 75 km at 28.89 kph)
Yves Garneau:  4 laps in 1:40:58 (50 km at 29.71 kph)
Gary Gopen:  4 laps in 1:43:18 (50 km at 29.33 kph)

Friday, January 28 :  Tweede Alternatieve Elfstedentoertocht
Today the entire MSI team is on the ice, some aiming to complete the daunting 200 km évent, and others trying the more modest 100 km on a 12.5 km circuit, this time with different weather:  moderate wind and intermittent snow, at times strong.  The start is set for 7:00 am as 850 skaters wait impatiently in pitch dark for the gun to go off.  Given the large number of skaters, we were able to hook on to packs which were moving at the pace we wanted.  This gave us the chance to stop for drinks or food at one of the two stands offered by the organizers.

Here is a summary of the results.  The individual skaters will be eager to share the détails of their races:





Speed in KPH

Charles Beaudoin





Yves Garneau





Jake Maarse





Dan Snipes





Gary Goplen





Gaétan Rochette





Willem Langenberg





Wednesday, February 2:  KPN Open NK
Tireless Jim Cornell went straight on to another 100 km race, this time with a larger elite group.  Finishing his distance (below), he jumped in the car with his skates still on and headed directly to the Munich airport.

Jim Cornell  60 km       1h49:47        178/246       32,79 kph


All agree that this was a most satisfying and personally enriching expérience, not the least for many encounters with Dutch skaters who corralled our skaters to find out why thèse strange créatures from Canada and the US decided to come skate gréât distances in Weissensee.  The welcome afforded to us surpassed expectations—even the President and Vice-President of the évent made themselves available , in French and English, to be sure we were well-taken care of. In a future article we will feature the personal expériences of some of the skaters.

Complete race results can be found at

Gaétan Rochette

North American Marathon Cancelled-
Record-breaking Snows

3 Feb 2011, Fairlee, Vermont- The aftermath of yet another snowstorm forced organizers of the 2011 North American Marathon Championships to cancel the event with just a week to go the races. The marathons, part of Skate Vermont weekend, were to be the highlight of the season for MSI and our race organizing partner, the Lake Morey Resort.

Another 15 inches (38cm) of snow fell on Lake Morey yesterday, this on top of record-breaking snowfall in January. The result: poor conditions shut down the longest skating trail in New England. According to Christine Cecchetti, Marketing Director and MSI's contact at the resort, the weight of snow on the ice caused naturally occuring expansion cracks to widen, allowing warm water to well up to the surface, causing the ice to buckle. This dashes the hope of having a suitable surface for skating anytime soon.

Snow removal equipment could not be used to save the ice, as blankets of insulating snow kept the ice thickness at 9 inches (23cm), preventing the use of snowplow-equipped trucks needed to remove massive amounts of snow. As temperatures plunge again towards zero degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 Celsius), the surface of Lake Morey will be unable to support skating of any kind.

It is with great regret that we cancel the races. The resort had nearly 95 rooms booked for race weekend and a record number of registrations were made for the events organized by MSI. Sadly, the last chance to skate a marathon in the East is no longer possible.

MSI would like to thank Lake Morey Resort for their unwavering enthusiasm for and support of marathon skating. Thanks also go to the many volunteers who were generous enough to offer their time so that we could skate. Finally, MSI thanks US Speedskating for their interest in running the races with MSI.

'Skate the Lake Marathon' Returned to Portland, Ontario

Skate the Lake 2011

29 Jan 2011- The 7th 'Skate the Lake' marathon returned today to the Big Rideau Lake in Portland, Ontario. Marco Smits and other volunteers of Portland Outdoors put on a fantastic event with astonishing community participation.

A month of below-freezing temperatures enabled the creation of a 1km track. By race day, the surface of the ice was smooth and hard, enabling top-notch performances by the skaters.

Rod Willmot, timer for the race, reports that results are available online. View the results for all three competitive races here.

Visit the official Portland Outdoors website to see 'Skate the Lake' pictures.

1st Marathon in Halifax:

Huge Success, 269 Competitors, 4 Races

Halifax marathon start

January 18, 2011- Marathon speed skating arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to a warm and enthusiastic welcome on January 8. A front page article in the Halifax Herald on January 3rd, titled “See if you have the racer's edge- Casual skaters can get serious on the oval,” was followed by an overwhelming public response, with a total of 269 competitors in the four races, and cheering fans in the stands.

The event featured two introductory level races, a 5km “Big Ice Icebreaker” that targeted recreational skaters, and a 10km Hockey/Speed Skate Challenge for more advanced hockey/ringuette and figure skaters. Both events sold out and had waiting lists, with 97 skaters in the 5km race, and 96 in the 10km.

There was also enthusiastic participation in the 25km Big Ice Challenge on Saturday. There were some skaters in hockey skates and figure skates showing great form, that we’d love to see in speed skates some day.
Halifax-snow removal Halifax-skater in blizzard

Photos in this article are from Peter Steeper (top) and Scott Richey, left and right. Visit their sites to see more photos of the races.

On Sunday, January 9th, the planned 40km became a One-Hour Blizzard Race after participants pitched in to shovel snow while patiently waiting for snow clearing equipment to arrive.

The marathon was sponsored by the Dartmouth Speed Skating Club and the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), which provided outstanding support to the event, with staff assisting with organization, promotion and running of the marathon.  First, second and third place winners in each age category received distinctive medals with the HRM “Skate” logo created for the programs on the Canada Games Oval, and certificates attesting to their participation in the first official speed skating event on the new oval.

Editor's Note: Congratulations to the organizers in Halifax for the fantastic attendance in your events. Race directors take note: as a prelude to marathon races, offering shorter races to the public will help bring new attention and skaters to marathon speedskating, ensuring long-term health of the sport.

MSI to Visit Weissensee-
Video Preview

January, 2011- This month the MSI logo appears for the first time at the 'Alternatieve Elfstedentocht Weissensee' (Alternative Eleven City Races Weissensee). Eight skaters from MSI will travel to Austria to attend races. This event attracts nearly 3,000 skaters and 2,000 spectaters. A YouTube video, below, provides a sample of what our MSI skaters will experience. Learn more about the event here.

My Transition from Inline to Ice


By Sergio Almeralla
November 15, 2010- I started inline speed skating as a teenager. My idol was an American inline skater named Chad Hedrick. He invented the double push and he won an unbelievable 50 gold medals at various World Championships. I had the opportunity to skate with him when he came to Mexico once
and he won that race too.

In 2002, Chad saw his fellow inline skater Derek Parra win a gold medal on the oval in Salt Lake
City and this caused him to decide that he was also going to skate on the ice. At the same time in
the same year, I was coming to Canada as a student to learn English. I didn’t know it then, but I
was going to do what Chad did and put on a pair of ice blades.  

Since then, there has been Roger Schneider (SWI), Alexis Contin (FRA), Pascal Briand (FRA),
Shane Dobbin (NZ) and rumour has it that current World Champions Joey Mantia (USA) and
Bart Swings (BEL) are planning the transition from inline to ice too.

In inline skating, you need technique but raw power can take you a long way. The variability in
road surface and elevation levels the playing field. Ice skating is not nearly as forgiving.

The first time I stepped on the ice, it felt really strange and intimidating. I was making all kinds
of noises with my blades because I couldn’t stop pushing with my toes. I also couldn’t relax my
body the way other skaters did and I wasted so much energy. On inlines people say that I have a
really long stride but actually my cadence on ice was way too short. This is probably the biggest
mistake inliners-to-ice make: they don’t know how to let themselves glide. There are a couple
of skaters in Ottawa from Holland who were twice my age and twice my speed, because they had
the cadence, the glide, the technique and I had to work ten times as hard to keep up with them.

But boy, the feeling was super smooth and the glide was great – the best surface I’ve ever skated
on in my life. In my second year I was so excited to lace up my ice blades on again and I went
to the oval regularly to check and see if there was ice. I love the big packs that go around in a
circle and the silent sound of our blades against the ice in near unison.

It took me about two years to really get the hang of it, and I am still not as natural on the ice as
those Dutch guys, but I am better able to put my raw inline power to use. Ice skating has also
helped my inline technique and is excellent cross-training.

I used to feel sad about putting my inline skates away for the season, but now I have lacing up
my ice blades to look forward to.

Photos (left to right)- Sergio racing in Mexico when he was 17; 16 years later at the 2009 Inline Festival; at the 2009 Quebec City Ice Marathon.

Sergio Almeralla learned to inline skate in his home country of Mexico. He was 2nd top overall
on the Mexican national team when he came to Canada in 2002 and discovered the beauty of ice. He now lives in Ottawa, Canada, where he continues to train and compete in both sports.

(Editor's note: Sergio Almeralla was the winner of the 40-km in the 2009 Quebec City Marathon and was on the winning team in the 2010 Montreal24hr inline relay. He will teach an inline-to-ice workshop at Lake Morey, Vermont, during the 2011 North American Marathon Championships. Visit Sergio's business, Il Peloton, in Ottawa.)

Starting Guns Fire in Quebec City:
Marathons Begin

12 Dec 2010- The first speedskating marathon of the 2010/2011 season began this weekend on the magnificent Gaetan-Boucher Olympic oval in Ste-Foy, Quebec. The two-day event, part of the MSI Series, finished just before an incoming snowstorm. Skaters had to fight strong winds while skating in Sunday morning's 1-hour challenge. The event was won by Sergio Almeralla (Ottawa, Ontario), who beat Jim Cornell (Rochester, NY) by 0.05 seconds. Weather conditions were better for the 25 km on Saturday, with light winds and temperatures around 27°F . A detailed story will be posted soon. Many thanks and congratulations to all skaters that attended. Visit mylaps.com for complete results.


Lake Placid Oval to Host Marathon

October 31, 2010- Marathon organizer and race director Linda Sausa of the Lake Placid Skate Club is pleased to report that Denny Allen, General Manager of the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), has confirmed that the 400 meter speedskating oval will be available for the annual Lake Placid Marathon December 18 and 19.

Skate the Common in Halifax!

October 20, 2010- Marathon Skating International, the Dartmouth Speed Skating Club,  and the Halifax Regional Municipality are pleased to announce the “Skate the Common” Marathon, which will take place as a part of the community festival “Skate: A Winter Celebration on Big Ice” January 8-9, 2011 at the Canada Games Oval on the Halifax Common.    Read more

Welcome to the New Season

October 15, 2010- Summer is a memory and a new season of speedskating will soon begin. As temperatures fall in the north, it’s time to prepare for another year of marathon speedskating! This welcome message to the 2010/2011 season begins with headlines from our reporters at MSI News:

Tired of filling out the same forms over and over again when registering for a marathon? This year electronic registration comes to MSI. Gone are the days of downloading documents, filling out paperwork, and mailing entry forms. Instead, skaters will enter personal information one time using our site’s registration page. Then, as races open up for registration, you simply login, select the events that you plan to enter, press “Submit,” and Voila! You’re registered! Payment will continue to be a manual process so as to avoid credit card processing fees (we're skaters, not bankers). Should you experience any problems, please contact the webmaster via email: marathonskating at gmail dot com.

We are pleased to announce that Lake Morey, Vermont, was awarded the 2011 North American Marathon Championship by US Speedskating. This event, scheduled for February 12 and 13, 2011, follows last year’s successful return of marathon speedskating and racing to Lake Morey.

Hosted by Lake Morey Resort as part of its annual Skate Vermont Weekend, skaters in this season’s marathon will see a number of unique additions. The Resort is happy to announce that it has purchased a Zamboni to complement its fleet of equipment for maintaining the best natural ice in the New England. Also new this year will be a clinic for inline skaters who are interested in crossing over to speedskating on ice. A Saturday morning workshop will be taught by Sergio Almeralla of Il Peloton. Sergio was the winner of the 40-km race in the 2009 Quebec City Marathon. Inline skaters should know that Sergio was a member of team Apex Racing Skates - Il Peloton at the 2010 24hr Roller Montreal. Sergio’s team finished first place in the elite category.

Back by popular demand will be the Saturday morning skating workshop for those with no speedskating experience. Last year MSI member and US Speedskating-certified instructor Bud Eichorn and former US National Speedskating team member Hilary Linehan conducted a workshop on Saturday morning. Bud returns this year to coach new-comers and old-timers alike in a free workshop.

A group of MSI skaters plan to travel the Weissensee in the Austrian state of Carinthia within the Gailtal Alps, from January 23rd February 3rd, 2011. Interested skaters should contact Willem Langenberg.

Finally, the season’s first MSI marathon takes place in Quebec City on December 11 and 12. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, take a few minutes to register yourself with MSI. Send your news to MSI News!

Kudos for Gaétan Rochette

July 8, 2010- On May 15th, Gaétan Rochette was surprised by an evening at the Sepia Hotel,
Ste-Foy, Quebec, organized by Pierre Gagné to thank Gaétan for 25 years of volunteer work in support of Master’s speedskating.

Among the 32 attendees were Maryse Poudrier of the Speedskating Federation of Quebec, Gilles Beaulieu (Master of Ceremonies), and skaters from the region.

André Nadeau, General Manager of the hotel which regularly hosts speed skaters with discounted rates, offered Gaétan a night at the hotel and a gastronomical dinner for two.


Icing on the cake came in the form of a Garmin GPS, a gift to help him find his way around the skating courses.

Marathon Skating International wishes to congratulate and thank Gaétan for his dedication to speedskating.  MSI is proud to have Gaétan as a Director and its Chief Timer.


Headlines from the 2009/2010 Season

Swiss and Kazak Dominance in the Silver Skate Festival Ice Marathons
The US National Marathon, February 20 & 21
The North-American Ice Marathon Championship Races, February 13 & 14
Marathons Return to Lake Morey with Success, January 30 & 31, 2010
"Skate Vermont" at Lake Morey Marathon (photos)
Lake Placid Marathons: December 19 and 20, 2009
Marathons Return to Lake Morey in January
Québec City Marathon Report
Sergio Almeralla Wins Season's First 40K Marathon
A Brief History of Pack Style Speedskating
Marco Smits Joins Vancouver Olympic Broadcast Team
News from MSI President Willem Langenberg

Silver Skates 2010 pack skaters

Swiss and Kazak Dominance in the Silver Skate Festival Ice Marathons

By Willem Langenberg

Edmonton, Alberta- For two days – February 20 and 21, 2010 – skaters raced, danced and frolicked on the ice of Hawrelak Park in Edmonton. Visitors to the Park also wandered through the snow sculpture park, stepped into teepees to see native arts and crafts and to play games, went on horse driven hay rides, listened to musicians, watched performing artists and ate authentic Dutch cuisine and French Canadian sweets. Park attendance records were broken on both Saturday and Sunday due to relatively warm weather (and sunny skies on Sunday) and due to the many competitive, recreational and cultural activities. On Saturday night the Park was set on fire by the burning of sculptures made of twigs, wood and cloth as the culmination of the ’24 Hours to Ignition’.

The Silver Skate Festival started off its skating events with the 1K Challenge. We started under impeccable ice conditions, thanks to the City of Edmonton staff who shaved the ice on our 1k track prior to the start of the race. The ice was a little slow however, as it had hoar frost on it from the humidity in the air that morning. We started under overcast skies and a slight wind and temperatures in the -15 range, but it warmed up to -5 C.

This year’s edition saw participants from the US, with Anna Ringsred, Kazakhstan with Natalya Rybakova, Switzerland with Jan Caflisch, and Holland with Marinus de Weerd. We also had one skater from Eastern Canada: Rosie Chong from Waterloo, Ontario.

In the 1K Challenge, Jackson Hill beat Jan Caflisch (son of the ice maker of the famous speed skating track in Davos, Switzerland) to the line, followed by Aaron VanderReest.

However, in the 25k which followed the 1k, Jan Caflisch dominated the field crossing the line first with an 80m lead on Natalya Rybakova and Anna Ringsred. The 25k started out at a fast pace with Jan taking the lead, followed by Rejean Lavoie, Anna Ringsred, Ray Cislo, Brian Johnston, Rick Dikstra and Stacey Mateika. Rejean dropped off after leading the second lap and the 6 skaters formed the lead pack. We took turns on the lead until about 3 laps to go, when the 3 musketeers broke away, never to be seen again! There was a competitive womens race happening between Connie Pope, Carolyn Lambert, Susan Cameron and Mia Atienza. Connie was able to nip out Carolyn at the finish. Congratulations to our youngest skater this year, Aron Koeman 10, who had a fastest lap speed of 28 kilometers per hour and completed the 25k in 1hour and one minute! Aron’s brother Kees, 13 finished one second earlier.

Our eldest statesman in the 25k was Marinus DeWeerd, 71, from the Netherlands. Marinus completed the race in 1 hour and 5 minutes with a fastest lap speed of 26 kilometers per hour.

On Sunday we had sunny skies and temperatures warming up to around -1. In the 10K the racing was close with Jan Caflisch crossing the line just skate lengths ahead of Natalya Rybakova and Anna Ringsred. Once again, the tempo started out fairly quick with about 23 skaters sticking together for the first lap. With one lap to go, Jan, Natalya and Anna were able to break away from Rejean Lavoie and Blaine Hill, who broke away from Jeff Russenholt and Brian Johnston. Special mentions go to youngest skaters in the 10k , Celina Chabot, 10 who completed the course in 32 minutes and forty nine seconds, with a fastest lap speed of 24 kilometers per hour. Other younger skaters in the 10k included Riesa McCumsey 10, Haley Benwood 11 and Sasha Russo, 12. Our fastest junior skater was Jessica Wakeford, 16 who finished in twenty minutes and 53 seconds with a fastest lap speed of 31 kilometers per hour, followed by Adeline Maunder, 14 in twenty one minutes and 14 seconds and a fastest lap speed of 33 kilometers per hour and Sophie Croteau, 16 who finished in twenty one minutes and 19 seconds and had a fastest lap speed of 33 kilometers per hour also.

Camden Chabot, 15 was our fastest Junior male skater with a time of 19 minutes and 56 seconds, and a fastest lap time of 34 kilometers per hour. Willem Langenberg, 65 was our eldest statesman in the 10k, completing the race in twenty one minutes and fifty seconds with a fastest lap speed of 30 kilometers per hour

The overall championship over the 10K and 25K was won by Jan Caflisch for the men and Natalya Rybakova for the woman, showing Swiss and Kazak dominance of the Silver Skate festival marathons. The overall Master Men title was for Brian Johnston and the overall Master Woman’s title was for Connie Pope.

Complete results of the marathons are listed on myLaps.com.

It was decided to reduce the entry fees this year and no sanction from the Alberta Amateur Speed Skating Association or Speed Skating Canada was taken out to try to get the number of participants up. The races were also shortened, substituting the 50k with a 10k event. The result was that there were 33 skaters in both the 10 and 25k events, although they were different skaters. These numbers were up from last year, when there were 27 skaters in the 25k and 14 skaters in the 50k. There also were some younger skaters in the 10k.

Although the events were not sanctioned and participants did not need to be members of a club, most skaters were members of speed skating clubs.

Skaters young and old enjoyed the Silver Skate Festival this year.

On Saturday the Edmonton Speed Skating Association (ESSA) also hosted the Kortebaan Sprint races, sponsored by the Netherlands Consulate. The Ard Schenk Kortebaan Cup for Men was won by Jackson Hill, while the Marianne Timmer Kortebaan Cup for Woman was won by Anna Ringsred.

The US National Marathon

By Lisa Sjogren, Pioneer Speedskating Club of Bemidji, MN

Bemidji, Minnesota, February 21, 2010- The US National Marathon closed out the 2009/2010 ice marathon skating season in the United States. Held on Lake Bemidji, the weather for Saturday’s 25k race was absolutely pristine. Danny Fredrick (Roseville, MN) won the 25k with a track record of 45:42.91. Sunday’s 50k race saw a light dusting of snow. Erik Wardenaar (Golden Valley, MN) won the 50k with a time of 1:45:14.38. Full results are posted here.

Be Bemidji National Marathonmidji National Marathon

The US National Marathon on Lake Bemidji.
Left: Skaters on the track.
Right: Four laps to go.

Bemidji Marathon finish line

The ice was fast thanks to the ice crew of Dave Cermak, Norm Johannsen, and Erik Sjogren who spent the week prior to the marathon flooding and preparing the oval for the skaters. One competitor said of the lake ice, "...this is the best lake ice in North America, this race, this ice should be the focal point of the marathon season."

Bemidji Community Race Winners Bemidji junior speedskater

Left, above: Winners of the fun races held during the National Marathon in Bemidji. MSI News would like to thank the marathon organizers for encouraging such participation by younger skaters and for introducing them to the sport. These are the future stars of marathon speedskating.

Photos from the event may be viewed here. Photos in this article by Tom Simonet.

Start of the North American Championship on the Assomption River, Joliette The start and finish area of the 2010 North American Champsionship marathons held on the Assomption River in Joliette, Quebec (Photo by Nathalie Larouche, from her Joliette album.)

The North American Ice Marathon Championship Races

By Gaétan Rochette (translated by Frank Cherry)

Joliette, Quebec, 15 February 2010 - On the Thursday before the race when I traveled to Joliette to take care of the final arrangements for the race, I was still skeptical that the weather and ice quality were going to be favorable to us. But I was immediately assured by the ice master who assured me that he and his team would deliver the best ice possible. He kept his promise and we had exceptional natural ice spread over the 1.9 km track prepared especially for our races.

50K winner KZapotocki

The overall North American Championship winner among women and the winner in her age categroy for the 50K, Kathie Zapotocki receives the gold medal from Roch LaSalle, President of the Festi-Glace organizing committee, in the main tent of the two-weekend festival in Joliette, Quebec. Suzanne Dionne was the first woman to cross the finish line in the 50km. Kathie beat Suzanne by .5 seconds for the combined times of the two races.
(Photo by Pierre Gagné)

The weather on Saturday was sunny and hardly cold at 10:00 AM when 41 skaters moved to the starting line for the 25 km North American Championship race with 13.1 laps in front of them. From the start the lead pack was made up of 11 skaters working together on the upwind stretch and coasting downwind to the tight turn. The MSI Timing system showed that most of the skaters scored their fastest laps early in the race. The lead pack soon solidified into 5 skaters : Jim Cornell, Constant Montpellier, Tom Keane, Brian Johnston, and Nate Feinberg. Among the ladies the lead pack of 11 skaters was comprised of Kathie Zapotocki, Suzanne Dionne, and Carole Moore who took turns to maintain a brisk rhythm.

Meanwhile the men’s pack stayed together until the 11th lap when Nate Feinberg was dropped. On the 13th lap Constant Montpellier pressed the pace, especially creating space on the upwind stretches and on the turns, overcoming a fall on the second last lap, to finish with a roaring sprint reaching 35 km/hour with a record last lap of 3 :14, a thoroughbred finish. For the women Kathie eclipsed Suzanne by 0.9 seconds to claim the victory. The men’s age group 60-69 was the largest with Yves Garneau arriving first and capping off a very successful race Series. The largest age group among the women was 40-49, with 4 skaters.

Right after the 25 km Championship race the organizers offered 3 recreational races of 2 km, 4 km, and 10 km to allow local skaters the chance to skate the course and experience the emotion of an ice skating marathon.

On Sunday morning at 8 :45 the mercury moved up a notch but so did the wind, gusting to 18 mph. Twenty-two skaters got ready for 26.3 laps of the same course for a 50 km challenge. As is customary in longer races the packs skated together for the first three laps and began to fragment only after lap 6 when a large group of 18 skaters powered through the course. To the surprise and admiration of most, four local skaters hung in with this pack, including Carl Blanchette, only 15 years old, with Gille Mirandette and Jean Deguise from the Joliette area, and Jacky Pilote from Latuque. This was their first attempt at marathon skating and they showed that they came to show their stuff!

50K men's peloton in Joliette, 2010

The leading men’s peloton in the 50K, heading down the Assomption River (left to right): Tom Keane, Jim Cornell, Brian Johnston, Charles Beaudoin and Willem Langenberg)
(Photo by Anna Delaney)

By the 7th lap the lead pack had 5 skaters followed by two other packs close behind, including the 3 skaters from Joliette who stayed together until the 20th lap. At lap 19 the race was in the hands of Tom and Jim—Brian being not able to hold on. At that point Jim morphed to an all-out sprint to claim first place followed by Tom, then Brian. Jim finished with a margin of victory of more than 2 minutes.

The women, on the other hand, used a different strategy: work together, stay together. Kathy Feinberg, Kathie Zapotocki and Suzanne Dionne took their turns for seven laps when Kathy Feinberg dropped off. At the finish, Suzanne inched out Kathie Zapotocki by a thin 0.3 seconds.

As for the overall North American Championship: Combining both long races, the women arrived in first place with a lead of 0.5 seconds. Kathie Zapotocki is the 2010 female Champion. As for the men, the calculation is easier: Jim Cornell beat his closest competitor by 1:34:301.

The award ceremonies were done quickly. For the 25 km the medals were given at the host hotel, the Château Joliette, at a cocktail party sponsored by the hotel. Awards for the 50 km were given in the Big Tent of the Festi-Glace ice celebration.

Sincere thanks to CARA and Ms Francine Trepannier and also to the City of Joliette represented by His Honour Mayor René Laurin for the generous support to this successful event. They provided the ice and other logistics which made the event possible. Special thanks to the Ice Master, Mr. Luc Lachapelle who turned mediocre ice into really great ice in the space of a couple of days.

MSI is very pleased with the event which, given its high standard and amenities, should have had more skaters. We congratulate all skaters who participated in this last race in the Eastern Division and we give best wishes to the organizers of the last race in the MSI Series to take place next weekend in Edmonton, Alberta.

Marathons Return to Lake Morey with Success

By Frank Cherry and Neal Hundt

Fairlee, VT, 31 Jan 2010- Last summer Lake Morey Resort made the decision to capitalize on their unique location in front of one of Vermont's largest lakes by making ice events the centerpiece of their winter social program. MSI began working with the resort to plan the first ever “Skate Vermont at Lake Morey” weekend. Designed to make Lake Morey a showcase for long-distance skating, the resort quickly embraced the idea of having marathon racing complement a weekend of activities designed to celebrate winter.

The last weekend in January saw enthusiastic skaters arrive at the Lake Morey Resort hotel to participate in two days of ice festivities. Unlike other venues in the MSI Series, the marathons on Lake Morey were hosted by a hotel. Once arrived, skaters had no need for a car for the entire weekend (though some did venture out to explore the area, to pick up hard-to-find gear at The Nordic Skater, stock up on baking supplies at the King Arthur Flour Company, or sample award-winning restaurants).

Wake-up view of Lake Morey Said one MSI skater: “It's wonderful stepping outside the Lake Morey Resort onto the lake (see photo, right). You have miles of ice to explore. Race during the day. Moonlight skate at night. Eat and relax in between. Everything you need is right there!"

Two dozen skaters attended a workshop on Saturday morning designed for those with no speedskating experience. Beginning indoors with “dryland” training, Taconic Speedskating club coach and long-time marathoner Bud Eichorn went over basic skating posture and technique. Co-taught by local resident and former US National Speedskating team member Hilary Linehan, the class continued its lessons outdoors on the ice. The workshop concluded with a race on the 1-kilometer oval that the resort created for MSI.

While 31 marathon skaters prepared for the early afternoon running of the 25K, another on-ice competition was underway. Local residents and hotel guests were treated to a “Taste of the Lake,” eight local restaurants that set up camp on the ice with food for the public to sample, then vote, on the culinary creations created especially for the event.

The 25K marathon took place under sunny but cold skies. Participants came from all points: from major areas in Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City) as well as the United States East Coast (Boston, New York, and Virginia). Jim Cornell continued to dominate the men this season with a first place finish, while Katherine Kwiecen was first to finish the race among women.

Following Saturday’s marathon, all “Skate Vermont” attendees enjoyed the warmth of the hotel’s lobby and public area. Locally brewed ales were on tap in the hotel’s Steamboat Lounge, as were free Green Mountain coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Awards were presented to the best chef for “Taste of the Lake” and to the top skaters in the 25K (complete results can be found at myLaps.com). Friendship and camaraderie continued into the evening, with dinner, dancing to live music, and relaxation in the hotel’s hot tub and pool.

Saturday’s strong headwinds on the north-bound side of the skating oval did not dampen enthusiasm for another marathon. With temperatures in the single digits (Fahrenheit) on Sunday morning, 19 skaters entered and finished the 40K. Kathy Feinberg was the first woman over the finish line, while Jim Cornell added another first place medal to his collection.

Lake Morey oval, with trail in background While the 40K was in progress, a group of marathoners and friends took a skating tour of the lake. Billed as the longest skating trail in the Northeast U.S., it circles the lake and provides fine vistas of the surrounding mountains. Remarking about the choice of Lake Morey for the Series, a veteran MSI skater said “There are few places one can skate an entire lake, dog running beside, bald eagles overhead, and listening to the ice sharing it's wintry secrets in funky techno sounds as it shift beneath us.”

Many people helped make speedskating’s return to Lake Morey a success. Congratulations go to Lake Morey Resort Marketing Director Christine Cecchetti for organizing the marathon and the entire “Skate Vermont” weekend. Her co-worker Barry Larson, braved snow, rain, and cold weather to create a fine 1-kilometer oval. Electronic timing was provided by MSI’s Gaétan Rochette, this time from the comfort of his car parked trackside on the 8 inch thick ice. Gaétan was assisted by Pierre Gagné, who arrived earlier in the week to inspect the quality and safety of the ice for racing. On-site race registration was provided by Nicole Cherry.

Given the cancellation of the Ottawa marathon and the absence of a Big Rideau marathon this year, Lake Morey was a welcome and timely edition to the MSI Series. See you in 2011 at the second annual “Skate Vermont” at Lake Morey marathon!

Skate Vermont at Lake Morey 25k Marathon, 1/30/2010

A selection of photographs from Philippe Candelier's collection: Coach Bud Eichorn demonstrates posture in the Saturday morning workshop designed for newcomers to speedskating, below left. Hilary Linehan demonstrates the cross-over technique, below right.

Coach Bud Eichorn Hilary Linehan

Jim Cornell leads the pack in the 25K, below left. Racing towards the finish, below right, is
Fred Schweikert, Canadian Olympic ('92 and '94) skater Pat Kelly, Tanya Hoferek, and John Ambrose.

Jim Cornell leads the 25K on Lake Morey Racing to the finish of the 25K on Lake Morey

Lake Placid Marathons: December 19th and 20th, 2009

Two days after the Lake Placid region broke the record for coldest day, the weather “sweetened up” and skaters were able to enjoy a weekend of near-perfect marathon conditions, with merciful winds and rock-hard ice.

The race was organized by Linda Sausa of the Lake Placid Skate Club with support and timing provided by MSI. (Shameless plug: Linda has opened the Lake Placid Skate Shop in the space formerly occupied by Dimon Sports, with speed, Nordic, and figure skate rentals and more.)

Overall 92 racers participated; some skated all three distances, an impressive feat that was formerly the domain of Jake Maarse of Ottawa.

Sergio Almeralla copped the 10 K in 18:25, edging out Glenn Corso. A flash of daylight later Benoit Letourneau and Chris Windham (age 15) crossed the line. First ladies were Patti Walsh and Kathy Feinberg.

In the 25 K Sergio, benefiting from serious inline training, nosed out Jim Cornell. He finished in 46: 44 and posted the fastest lap speed of 39.03 kph. First lady was Carole Moore finishing in 51:18.

The 40 K was notable in several respects. Mindful of the distance, the pack did a number of “demonstration” laps at a sober 48 seconds, with skaters sizing up the competition. For a good number of laps the lead pack had an improbable 22 skaters. As the race progressed the pack was whittled down to 4 skaters (Jim, Sergio, Glenn and Benoit) who showed mutual respect by working together and superior sportsmanship by waiting when one or another fell. In the end Jim Cornell prevailed, barely, over Sergio. Glenn took a fall on the last lap and finished with Benoit.

Once again Carole Moore was the first lady, finishing an amazing 8th overall. She just eclipsed the pack comprised of Yves Garneau, the only skater from the city of Quebec, Suzanne Dionne, and Bailin Xie (age 13). A loose tongue reported that when Bailin, easily the youngest skater on the ice, took her turn at the front of the pack, there were audible groans as she picked up the pace.

MSI salutes our young skaters, Chris Windham and Bailin Xie, for their skating prowess.

In the interest of celebrating some of the back-of-the-pack skaters, we would like to recognize the achievement of Florinel Balteanu, from Ottawa, both for his perfect record of attendance last year as for his skating improvement by moving smartly up into the ranks.

From the wires of the Team Ubu Press Corps, yours truly, Frank Cherry.

Want more news about the Lake Placid Ice Marathon? See our other story and photo journal of the weekend's marathons.

Marathons Return to Lake Morey in January

By Neal Hundt

Lake Morey skating trail Fairlee, Vermont, 15 Dec 2009- Marathon skating returns to Lake Morey this coming January after nearly a six year absence. Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, VT, will present a weekend of speedskating fun for elite, recreational, and new skaters alike. Marathon Skating International has been tabbed to provide logistic and timing support for the races.

Seeking to establish itself as the premier destination for skating on natural ice in the United States, Lake Morey Resort will host MSI marathons for the premiere of its annual “Skate Vermont at Lake Morey” weekend. Weather permitting, MSI will run chip-timed 25K and 40K marathons on a one-kilometer oval that the Resort will maintain along the southeast shore of one of Vermont’s most beautiful and accessible lakes.

To encourage more participation in long-distance skating, MSI will offer, free of charge, a “Speedskating 101 Workshop” on Saturday morning, January 30, 2010, to introduce newcomers to the sport. Recreational skaters will receive expert instruction from U.S. Speedskating-certified coach Bud Eichorn of Taconic Speedskating Club, NY. Local championship speedskater Hilary Linehan will also serve as a workshop instructor. Together they will teach basic speedskating technique in an indoor session in the resort hotel. Skaters will then take to the ice for additional instruction and practice. The morning will culminate with two speedskating races, 2-K and 5-K, for workshop participants and all recreational skaters. Lake Morey - Vermont

The 25-K marathon takes place on Saturday afternoon, January 30, at 1 PM; the 40-K follows on Sunday morning at 9 AM. Spectators may gather trackside or in the warm comfort of the Lake Morey Resort hotel parlor which overlooks the skating oval, the south end of the lake, and the mountains beyond.

“Skate Vermont at Lake Morey” offers more than racing. There will be food and live entertainment, a torch-light parade, and the 4.5 mile skating trail (the longest maintained in the US). Snow sculpture competition, pond hockey, and cross country skiing will take place throughout the weekend. Rounding out the activities are spa facilities at the resort, including Jacuzzi, sauna, and fitness center.

Lake Morey racers Download the compete schedule of “Skate Vermont at Lake Morey” events. To register for skating events, please visit skatevermont.eventbrite.com. Payment for marathon registration is due upon on-site check-in at the MSI table in the hotel lobby. For Lake Morey Resort special room rates, resort information, and reservations, visit lakemoreyresort.com/Specials.

Québec City Marathon Report

By Gaétan Rochette, Race Director, Québec
14 Dec 2009

Saturday Evening's 25 km
The starting gun went off a couple of minutes late in order to give the Zamboni time to put finishing touches on the ice. Fifty-three skaters enjoyed exceptional conditions, favored by light winds and a comfortable -1 degrees C. Gaetan Boucher Oval

From the start the lead pack, comprised of Jim Cornell, Youri Juteau, Martin Haire, André Gagnon and Sergio Almeralla set a blistering pace. The pack pushed and shoved all through the race and provided spectators with an exciting show. Competition was no less intense with the ladies, Martine Charbonneau, Anika Bédard, and Suzanne Dionne.

In the home stretch the lead pack was whittled down to Cornell, Juteau, and Almeralla with Cornell just edging out his pack-mates at the finish. While with the women it was Martine Charbonneau (Montreal), finishing just ahead of Madison Roy, 19 years old and completing her first marathon, and Anika Bédard. (photo courtesy of Il Peloton)

Sunday's 40 km
Sunday’s carbon copy weather provided optimal conditions for the 31 racers to show their stuff. Per custom, the 40 km started at a slower pace than the 25 km, and a large pack of 14 skaters set a steady but demanding pace. By lap 10 a few skaters found they were not able to hang on, and the pack dropped to 7. At lap 16 the leaders were Sergio Almeralla, Jim Cornell, Youri Juteau, Hans Postuma, and André Gagnon. Later attrition left Sergio, Youri and Jim alone in front for the rest of the race. At crunch time Sergio made one more escape and finished first with good separation from his two competitors.

Participation by the ladies was very impressive: of the 19 ladies who did the 25 km, 12 signed on for the 40 km. The men’s age group 60 to 69 had few compeitors.

The race committee was very pleased with the event and looks forward to seeing everyone at our next race at Lake Placid, December 19 and 20.

Sergio Almeralla Wins Season's 1st 40K Marathon

By Ursula Almeralla

6 Dec 2009, Ste-Foy, Quebec- Il Peloton's Sergio Almeralla won the first ice marathon of the season, the 40km Quebec City long track marathon at the Gaétan Boucher oval in Ste-Foy on December 6th (pictured, left). Skating in near perfect conditions, Sergio battled with American Jim Cornell and Montreal's Youri Juteau.

"I fell twice in the last 10 laps, which was hard, but I knew from that race that I had gas", said Sergio about the 25K which took place the night before. "So when I prepared for the 40K I decided I would go out there with everything I had and see if Jim and Youri had the legs". Sergio broke away three times, staying out in front by half a lap for long stretches of the race before being reeled in by Jim and Youri. With 26 laps to go, he broke away for a final time. Jim and Youri shortened the gap in an exciting final effort with about 10 laps to go, but it was not quite enough to catch and the jig was up with three laps to go. (Photo courtesy of Il Peloton)

A Brief History of Pack Style Speedskating

By Willem Langenberg

21 Nov 2009, Edmonton, Alberta- Mass start (pack style) racing is probably the oldest type of speed skating in history, although the format of the oldest international speed skating race (a competition in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, on January 23rd 1885) was a mass start for 2 racers in a knock-out format (similar to the present day ‘Kortebaan’ sprint racing over 160 m) on a 1600 m long track with one turn-around midway. For the first world championships (in January 1893 in Amsterdam) a mass start format was used in which there were heats for pairs and a final for the fastest 4 winners (possibly also in pairs) per distance. Separate racing lanes, such as used now in Olympic Style competition, were not introduced until 1899. In North America mass start racing was the only format until 1962 (mass start is still the main format for short track). Time trialing in pairs (Olympic Style) has been used in the Olympic Games since the first Winter Games in 1924, with the exception of the Games of 1932 (Lake Placid), where all the speed skating races where mass start.

The first marathon skating race in the world was a 117 mile race held in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, in 1884. Marathon racing became popular in the Netherlands with the introduction of the 11 Cities race (200 km) in 1909. Since 1970 marathon speed skating has become a regular staple of the Dutch calendar, but progress of marathon skating outside the Netherlands has been slow. Alternative 11 Cities races have been held outside the Netherlands since 1974 (mainly in Scandinavia, but also in Canada in 1983, 1984, 1985, 2004, 2005 and 2006). Marathon races with international participation have been a regular component of the Oval Finale in Calgary since its start in 1991. A regular marathon speed skating series for North America was introduced by MSI in 2001.

The Dutch Skating Union (KNSB) has been lobbying trying to include a marathon (mass start) race in the World Cup program since 2006. In 2006 Pascal Briand (France) won a 40 lap demonstration race during the World Cup in Heerenveen and Arjan Stroetinga won a similar 10 km race during the 2009 World Cup in Heerenveen. Similar demonstration marathon races were held during the 2007 and 2008 Junior World Championships in Innsbruck and Changchun, although the Chinese version resulted in chaos (possibly because of the lack of chip timing). It is not clear if the experiment with marathon racing at the Junior World Championships is considered a failure by the ISU, because there was no mass start (marathon) race at the 2009 Junior World Championships and it is uncertain if similar races are planned for the future.

At present there are plans considered by the ISU to include a mass start in the regular World Cup program for the 2010-2011 season. The precise format of this race still needs to be determined (Proskating, vol.16, No. 4, p.25). MSI is fully in full support of these plans of plans that include mass start (marathon) style events in the current World Cup, Junior World Cup, Canadian Cup and American Cup series events.

Marco Smits Joins Vancouver Olympic Broadcast Team

9 Nov 2009, Portland, Ontario- Marco Smits, former MSI president and founder of the International Big Rideau Lake Speed Skating Marathon, has been hired by the Canadian television network CTV to be part of their Vancouver 2010 Olympic broadcasting team. Smits will join Canada's Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium as their long track speedskating researcher.

"I'll be working behind the scenes as an editorial researcher and that really suits me," Smits said. "This is a great honour and opportunity for me. I probably won't see a lot of live action. I think I¹ll be working inside a studio during most of the races."

The Olympic Winter Games take place from Feb. 12 until Feb. 28. Speedskating events are scheduled almost every day. Canada is expected to win several medals in long track speedskating, possibly the first Olympic gold medal ever won on home soil.

News from MSI President Willem Langenberg

15th Oct 2009, Edmonton, Alberta- MSI will organize a training camp in the Netherlands at the FlevonIce facility (see video, www.flevonice.nl/winter). The December 7 to 12 camp concludes with a chip-timed tour (choice of all distances up to 200K). FreeSkate will sponsor all MSI skaters by waiving the entry fee. MSI is arranging a group rate at the nearby hotel Dorhout Mees. Transportation to Amsterdam is the responsibility of the individual. Joint transportation from Schiphol airport to Biddinghuizen (possibly by public transit) can be arranged. Interested skaters should contact me as soon as possible.

The program for the North American championships at Joliette (Febr. 13-14) is evolving. MSI will provide the organizers with a championship protocol. It promises to be a wonderful weekend with events suitable for the whole family.

Portland Outdoors let us know that the organizers of the International Big Rideau Lake Speed Skating Marathon have decided to take a year off. This slack will possibly be taken up by Lake Morey (Vermont), where a local organizing committee (assisted by MSI) is trying to revive the marathons as feature events of a Winter Festival.

In Western Canada, the town of Sylvan Lake and FSSM are in the planning stages of reviving marathons on Sylvan Lake in February (we'll keep you posted on progress). Winnipeg (Randy Plett) and Ft. St. John (Wim Kok) are hoping to organize local marathons.

Contact Willem Langenberg at cwlangen at telus dot net.