Jose Mejia and teenager Lauren O’Donnell captured the men’s and women’s elite titles at the 25th anniversary NorthShore Inline Marathon Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Duluth.
Mejia, 24, of Cranston, Rhode Island, completed the 26.2 miles in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 21.06 seconds, to edge Justin Stelly, 34, of Salt Lake City (1:06:22.26) by a little more than a second. The top 10 men finished within five seconds of each other.
The women’s race, on the other hand, was a three-way dual with O’Donnell, 16, of Port Saint Lucie, Florida, winning in 1:13:17.16 to edge Tori Carter, 36, of Windsor, Colorado (1:13:18.65), and Hannah Vanasse, 30, of Bemidji, Minnesota (1:13:18.86) by less than two seconds. O’Donnell has certainly come a long way since finishing ninth at the NorthShore Inline Marathon in 2019 as a 13-year-old in 1:22:51.08.
Skaters enjoyed optimal weather, with race-time temperatures starting in the 50s and climbing to near 70 by noon, with an ever-so-slight tailwind.
“Fantastic — great day — what a spectacular, perfect, September Duluth day,” said first-year race director Zach Burns. “When I started in the morning setting the course it was 45 degrees and then you got to watch it shift almost 35 degrees as 1,250 people started rolling down the Lake Superior shoreline, happy as can be. It was pretty cool.”
The NorthShore Inline Marathon is the largest inline marathon in North America and features the same point-to-point course as Grandma’s Marathon, following scenic Highway 61 along Lake Superior from Two Harbors to downtown Duluth. Unlike Grandma’s Marathon, which finishes on Canal Park Drive, the NorthShore Inline Marathon finished Saturday at the William A. Irvin ore boat.
While Mejia’s time was nowhere close to the NorthShore Inline Marathon record of 57:18, set in 1998 by future Olympic gold medalist speed skater Chad Hedrick, there’s a lot of strategy that goes into a race like this, with drafting paramount.
It had to be an experience for the elites and rec skaters alike.
“Dynamite,” Burns said. “A couple miles per hour breeze and cruising along Lake Superior is about as good as it gets.”
Keith Svir of Two Harbors was the top local men’s elite finisher, 36th in 1:24:44.94, while Stacia Marsolek of Hermantown was the top local woman, 11th in 1:32:24.24.
According to mtecresults.com, there were 676 finishers in the rec division of the full marathon, 397 men, 279 women, with an average time of 1:57:48.03.
Bob Cragin, 74, of Superior, who was highlighted in a story in Saturday’s Duluth News Tribune e-edition, a late skating bloomer who has done every NorthShore Inline Marathon, finished 318th among men in 2:08:16.03.
NorthShore Inline Marathon
Men’s Top 10
1. Jose Mejia, 24, Cranston, Rhode Island, 1 hour, 6 minutes, 21.06 seconds
2. Justin Stelly, 34 Salt Lake City, 1:06:22.26
3. Wesley Gandy, 30, Johnstown, Colorado,1:06:22.36
4. Christopher Springer, 30, Windsor, Colorado, 1:06:22.59
5. Kaiden Woods, 15, Windsor, Colorado, 1:06:23.25
6. Fabian Angel, 28, Hollywood, Florida, 1:06:23.77
7. Ben Brown, 19, Hollywood, Florida, 1:06:24.28
8. Francisco Ramirez, 44, Cranston, Rhode Island, 1:06:24.32
9. Rob Bell, 37, Oklahoma City, 1:06:24.85
10. Hayden Groves, 17, Berkley, Michigan, 1:06:25.78
Women’s Top 10
1. Lauren O’Donnell, 16, Port Saint Lucie, Florida, 1:13:17.16
2. Tori Carter, 36, Windsor, Colorado, 1:13:18.65
3. Hannah Vanasse, 30, Bemidji, Minnesota, 1:13:18.86
4. Fatima Sanchez, 16, Lakewood, Colorado, 1:15:45.73
5. Chantelle Dron, 34, Fort Collins, Colorado, 1:17:29.26
6. Samantha Sanchez, 15, Lakewood, Colorado, 1:20:37.85
7. Sarai Pegram, 31, Astoria, N.Y., 1:22:18.62
8. Danielle Baltazar, 29, Evans, Colorado, 1:22:24.35
9. Veronica Luccioni, 52, San Francisco, 1:26:16.60
10. Alyssa Roen, 19, Hobart, Wisconsin, 1:27:09.69