Photo finish -- Miller wins NorthShore Inline Marathon by the toe of his skate
Eight-thousandths of a second. That's what separated winner Adam Miller and runner-up Julian Aparicio in Saturday's 13th NorthShore Inline Marathon. Miller went into a hawk stretch at the finish line alongside the William A. Irvin oreboat on Harb...
Eight-thousandths of a second.
That's what separated winner Adam Miller and runner-up Julian Aparicio in Saturday's 13th NorthShore Inline Marathon.
Miller went into a hawk stretch at the finish line alongside the William A. Irvin oreboat on Harbor Drive, putting his yellow left-front wheel just ahead of Aparicio's red right wheel.
Miller, 26, of Independence, Mo., thought he'd won. Aparicio, 21, of Bucramanga, Colombia, thought he'd won. Both were timed in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 15.9 seconds for 26.2 miles.
Their fantastic finish followed a fall by Julian Rivera coming off the final turn around the bayside of the DECC. Rivera, the top inline marathoner in Colombia, led by five feet and was positioned to win until catching a skate in a crack. He fell facedown, recovered and finished 16 seconds behind.
"I said, "This is not happening to me.' I come all the way from Colombia, I am racing on my [23rd] birthday, I want to do well for my sponsor Tru-Rev -- and I fall," said Rivera, from Medellin, who was third last year. "I thought I was supposed to win on this day, and now I am very sad."
Miller, 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, said he planned to join Rivera on a dash down the final straightaway just as the leader took a tumble. Then it was every man for himself.
"[Rivera] fell instantly and when someone that fast goes out of the race, it gives you a little boost of energy," said Miller, in his sixth NorthShore race. "I'm pretty confident in my sprint, but I wasn't going to celebrate. I wasn't really sure who won. This is the best race in the U.S., by far, and this is the best victory I've ever had."
Finish line announcer Kerry Rodd, on elevated scaffolding, named Aparicio the winner and Aparicio told Bont Skates teammates he may have finished first. The official call belonged to the FinishLynx Fully Automatic Timing System, used in conjunction with ChampionChip Timing.
The official winner was Simmons Racing team member Miller, barely.
"Many things can happen during a race, but I felt so good and so strong, right through the final sprint," said Aparicio, ranked in the top 10 in Colombia and competing in his first international marathon. "This is one of the very famous championship races in the world, and I wanted to win. You have to think you're going to win, that's all you're thinking."
Thirty elite men in a field of 2,472 had that thought at the 7:30 a.m. start just outside Two Harbors on North Shore Drive. It was an ideal morning for fast times and even a chase after Chad Hedrick's course-record of 57:18 set in 1998. It was 48 degrees and calm to begin and 57 with light fog by 10 a.m. in downtown Duluth.
A handful of racers took turns leading North America's largest inline marathon, with Rivera doing much of the work. But a chase pack followed and there were still 15-20 frontrunners with less than five miles to go. Fourteen pushed uphill off I-35 at Fifth Avenue West, traveling 24 mph, and took a left toward the DECC and finished just 16 seconds apart.
The victory was Miller's fourth straight this year, but belied his status as a full-time plumber, husband and father of two, with a third child due in four weeks. His wife, Kristin, drove the couple's 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix much of the 600 miles from Missouri to Minnesota with three skaters in the car. They arrived Friday and head back today.
"I've been racing since I was 10 years old and I've tried to quit a couple of times, but I keep coming back," said Miller, who won $1,000 from a purse of $10,400. "I do the bare minimum to stay in shape so that I'm decent in my races. A lot of days I put the kids to bed and train at night."
His previous victories in 2008 were the Chicagoland Inline Marathon on July 26 in 1:14:19; the St. Paul Inline Marathon on Aug. 3 in 1:14:10.4; and the Hayward (Wis.) 39-Mile Challenge on Aug. 9 in 2:02:28.77. David Sarmiento, 26, of Mankato, Minn., was second in all three and was third Saturday, less than a second behind, in 1:05:16.3.
Colombian Diego Rosero won the 2007 NorthShore Inline Marathon in 1:04:46.9.