North and South America
For anyone whose ever wondered what the A2A, Athens to Atlanta, event is all about… well, it’s all about skaters, skating, and more of both. This year was my first time attending the event. My role was as athlete support and Rollerblade® representative. As I recap this event for you I hope it paints a true picture of what this iconic skate event is all about.
The weekend started out with a Friday Night Skate. Around 60 skaters and 5 cyclists (athlete support) met up at the iconic (yes, I’m using that word again) Atlanta skate shop, Skate Escape. The shop is conveniently located at the entrance of Piedmont Park in the heart of the city. Everyone was hyped to see the Rollerblade® Demo Van in the parking lot as they arrived. The skate started at 6:30pm as dusk approached and everyone geared up with lights. There was also a police escort for the skate, which cruised past many of Atlanta’s key downtown nightlife spots. The city was full of people who were more than happy to see such a huge group of skaters. After completing the skate we all had a delicious dinner at Willy’s just across from Skate Escape.
On Saturday we drove up to Athens. Athens is home to the UGA Bulldogs, and the city was buzzing the whole time we were there. Participants were greeted at the Classic Center by the Rollerblade® Demo Van and a small trade show. BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) was also set up at the Classic Center there doing a big board member / sponsor meeting. We had visitors to the demo van all day from both events. It was really cool to show off the Rollerblade® product line and get some folks trying out skates.
Sunday we woke up at 4:30am and headed to Waffle House, the breakfast of champions, to get some fuel for the big day.
The race started promptly at 7am. Watching the athletes gear up to skate 38, 49, or 87 miles was crazy. One crew of three skaters had just arrived at about 6am just skating the opposite direction from Atlanta to Athens. They were fueling up and getting ready to skate back!!! That’s 174 miles folks!
As the countdown started for the event it was clear these skaters were about to hit the roads, hilly roads, while it was still dark. According to the Rollerblade® athletes the roads weren’t near as smooth as other events like the Northshore Inline Marathon. There were tar-snakes, potholes, intersections, gator backs, etc. As was stated at the pre-event meeting on Saturday… this event is no joke. Most of the skaters stated it was one of the hardest physical events they’ve ever done.
Overall the Rollerblade® crew dug deep, rolled hard, and finished strong. Kacie Cleveland finished that 87 mile event in 29th overall and 2nd in her category. She pushed through pain and tears, and earned herself the “Tough Cookie” award. Anna Zuver, who represents Rollerblade® and happens to run the event, also took on the 87 mile event and place second in her category. How you run an event all weekend and then skate 87 miles and the wrap up an event after is unbelievable, but Anna did it and did it with finesse.
Brian Tilley and Tom Hyser worked together. They kept each other motivated and exchanged leading and the hard work that goes with that role. Backs screaming and toasted legs the guys finished the 38 mile event in 2 hours and 25 minutes. 16.5 mph average speed. Brian and Tom shared 2nd overall for the 38 miler. Tom got 2nd in age 40-45 and Brian got 1st in 30-39.
Myles Cotter-Sparrow with his steady smooth style finished 3rd in the 30-39 age group and skated 38 mi in 3:00 hrs. When he came across the line he looked like he could keep rolling. Impressive to say the least!
I’m already looking forward to going to the event again next year. The support and enthusiasm for skating and the skaters was contagious. The event is NOT for the faint of heart, but is an event you will never forget.
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