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"Give Your Skating a Purpose"



The Ultra-Marathon RoadSkate   “Give Your Skating a Purpose”


 by Scott Nilsson


Give your Skating a Purpose.


How about $500,000?


"Give your skating a purpose", is the slogan of Athens-To-Atlanta, the 86 mile Road Skating Ultra-Marathon from Athens, Georgia, to Piedmont Park, in Atlanta (or optional 38 mile Half Distance finish in Dacula, Georgia). The premier ultra-marathon inline skate event in the world, fitness and speed skaters alike face mile long uphill climbs, and downhill speeds exceeding 45 miles-per-hour. Athens-To-Atlanta (A2A) attracts professional and amateur skaters from Australia to Japan, from Germany to Colombia, and has hosted skaters from all fifty states. Additionally, A2A is a partner of the Leukemia Society of America Team-In-Training program for fund raising athletic events.


Team-In-Training is comprised of everyday folks - and a few speed skaters - who commit to raising at least $1,500 each, and to skating the 38 or 86 mile routes of A2A, a course that demands respect from world-class skaters. They register to start training in April, with professional coaches guiding them through a challenging crash-course in open road skating. Last Friday, 300 Team-In-Training skaters joined fitness skaters and the elite of the speed skating world for a skating tour of downtown escorted the by Atlanta Skate Patrol and Deputies from the Fulton County Sheriff's Office - a skaters' kick-off for the Sunday ultra marathon.


A2A: Sunday, October 10, 1999, courageous fund-raisers and speed skaters gathered under torrential rains in the pre-dawn at the starting line, anxiously hoping for a break in the weather that would never arrive. Team-In-Training participants included a soon-to-be-mother, four months along (carrying an anticipated-skater in the A2A of 2015), and two skaters in remission from cancer. At 6:30, two members of Team-In-Training took their marriage vows on the starting line, having met while training for last years event. At 7:30 am, all the skaters slipped quietly into the darkness. Ahead, the mostly uphill roller-coaster of asphalt leading to a final six mile climb to Dacula, thirty-eight miles away.


While Dacula was the finish line for the Half Distance skaters, full distance skaters were not even halfway home, with the skyscrapers of Atlanta beckoning forty-eight miles further on. Ahead for these skaters and seventy-two miles from the starting line, the infamous Silver Hill: a nearly-one mile downhill where pace lines of the fastest skaters approach fifty miles-per-hour, according to the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department.


Police cruisers from a dozen jurisdictions blocked every major intersection of the event route, the full eighty-six miles, and all the skaters found fast-friends in the ninety police officers supporting their efforts. Out of the 815 registered skaters, over 450 completed their events despite the horrific weather (among them, the Team-In-Training members who married on the starting line - in very wet wedding clothes after skating the full 86 miles).


At the awards ceremony Sunday night, Henry Zuver, President of A2A, announced the total amount raised this year by the A2A Team-In-Training skaters for the fight against leukemia: $500,000.


A2A has a unique life and spirit that breathes throughout the year, in the memories and stories everyone shares, and in palpable anticipation of the coming year. But now, beyond the joy and satisfaction of it, beyond the enormous determination required, beyond the misery at times, and beyond the consuming human competition pervading everyone and every aspect of this event, it truly does have a purpose.


A2A-2000 is scheduled for October 1, 2000. For further information online: Athens-To-Atlanta at, or Leukemia Society of America at; or call A2A at 404-634-9032, or Team-In-Training at 800-482-TEAM.


October 11, 1999



~  Scott Nilsson

Atlanta, Georgia - USA /

Copyright © 1999 by Scott Barricks Nilsson - All Rights Reserved




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