PORTLAND, ONTARIO - JAN 31, 2012 - In the face of many challenges including Mother Nature, the 8th international Big Rideau Lake Speed Skating Marathon in Portland Ontario turned out to be an event to be remembered.
Says President John Bongers “despite the rain and snow and warm temperatures on Friday our ice prep crew somehow managed to have a surface that was skateable by Saturday morning”. “The field of competitors in the 5, 10 and 25 kilometre races most definitely had challenging ice conditions to contend with however they all stuck with it and posted some respectable times!”
Constant Montpellier won the 25 k with a time of 51:45 beating second place Adrian Loewen by 46 seconds. Long-time skate the laker, Jake Maarse followed closely with 53:02. Adrian and Jake also placed in the top 3 in the 10 k.
Crossing the wire for the women were Suzanne Dionne with a time of 1:03:20 followed by Jen Benedickson and Catherine Kwiecien with 1:03:20 and 1:03:49 respectively.
The 10 k was won by Sergio Almeralla in 20:25 for the men and by Marketa Graham in 25:05 for the women. Sergio also led the pack in the 5 k with a 10:16 finish. Sue Warren, Portland Outdoors volunteer, led the women’s 5 k with a time of 14:31.
After the competitive races were over the ice was getting soft however it did not dampen the enthusiasm in the least for the 5 X 1 relay which attracted several teams in various costumes.
The highlight of the day for many of the locals in the crowd was the kids 5 k. They were cheered lap by lap by a crowd in the hundreds by that point in the day. “I was pleased to see so many people stick around to cheer on these kids, they are the future of our sport!” says Catherine Kwiecien a marathon skater from Waterloo Ontario.
Throughout the day the spectators and participants were kept warm by several bonfires and a steady supply of Snert, Chilli and hot chocolate. The day was closed out by an acoustic performance by Ryan Malcolm of Canadian idol fame and an amazing 20 minute fireworks display!