I think the first place to start is to thank Simon Clement and all his team for organizing such an amazing event. I can't even imagine the logistical nightmare something so big must be. So my hat is off to him.
Unfortunately, the most popular element of this years race was the weather. We were lucky to have about 3 hours of beautiful hot sun until the clouds rolled in, the wind started to howl and the rain started to pelt the skaters. From then on, for the next 22 hours, it rained and rained.
From what I understand, by mid morning, several teams had already decided to call it quits. For most inexperienced skaters, competiting in the rain and on very wet pavement is something new and a transition that is not easily made in such a short period of time. On that note, I don't think I have ever seen so many falls in all my years going to this event. The first aid guy was saying that it was the busiest of his 10 years with skaters visiting him from minute to minute. Dehydration, broken shoulders, broken collar bones, and rows and rows of suchers. Ouch. I saw a few face plants and they were not fun looking. Yikes.
BUT, from the look on everyones faces, they were still having fun and pushing through the challenges of the weather and the puddles. Sure wet spandex is never fun but that didn't stop skaters from pushing to the finish line. At times when the rain was coming down the hardest, I was shocked to see some of the elite teams coming into the transition area still clocking in the 30km range. These guys and gals are brave and maybe a bit crazy.
When the rain really picked up in the early morning, event organizers decided to pull the plug a bit early. A good idea I think. So with 3 hours left to go, skating ended at 11am and teams wrapped up their final laps. It was a bitter sweet ending to the event but all in all a fun one. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else this weekend than with my extended circle of friends in Montreal.
Congrats to all the teams and all the skaters who came out to support the event. Don't be discouraged...it has never rained two years in a row. ;) Next year we will make up for it I am sure!
For a limited selection of photos you can visit my Flickr page here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30813780@N00/sets/72157627601565820/
Sorry there aren't many this time around. I was busy helping at the Il Peloton booth and didn't get out in the rain much. I'll make up for it next year. Promise. ;)
Here is a start up video from SpeedskateWorld.com Visit Peter Doucet's site to get all the latest and greatest news on the Speedskating circuit from pro to local levels.