Report - Saul Levine



Two weeks after the Défi, I've had a chance to organize my thoughts about the event. I started blading only three years ago in my mid-fifties. Blading for me has been a chance to relax my mind and get a bit of exercise. The longest I had ever bladed up until this summer was about 4 and a half hours at one time. (My wife thinks I am nuts). I picked up one of the pamphlets on the bike path in Dollard des Ormeaux. My seventeen year old son convinced me to take up the challenge. This was six weeks before October 20th. I managed to extend my distance to 5 and a half hours about two weeks before. I knew from my skating times, in a number of the sections, that I had a chance to do it in under 8 hours, if I could last that long. But I had to be realisitic. Sometimes the winds can be fierce. I also knew the poor condition of the last section especially along Notre Dame.

My son drove me to the Verdun Auditorium and was fascinated by the preparation in the parking lot before the start and the intensity and exciting atmosphere that could be felt just before six a.m. A real cult event. Personally the first four sections went really well; just a bit more than six hours. I skated alone, with my wife meeting me in Pierrefonds to refill my Camelback and my son meeting me on Notre Dame just after the beginning of the fifth section, again for a refill and a snack.

The wind and the rough condition of the fifth section was my downfall. I finished in 8 hours and 26 minutes, non-stop. For me and my family, the pride of accomplishment was mainly what I felt. I wasn't too sore although in three years of blading just about every day for almost 9 months of the year, this was the first time I had ever experienced a severe muscle cramp.

More than the Défi itself, blading has taken me to places on the island I might never have found, especially in light of the fact that I've lived in Montreal all my life. I especially enjoy the serenity in the parks along Gouin, in sections 3 and four. The scenery is marvelous, and for the most part the path is in good condition. Not what my conception of Montreal was, as I live in the West Island and there is an informal competition on city services.

My sincere congratulations to the organizing committee, as it appears to have required a lot of hard work. I'm not sure yet if I will participate next year. For me this was a real challenge, just to see what I was made of. But... if the weather is nice next year... I may just show up at 5:30 a.m. to try again. Maybe I can finish in under 8 hours after all.

Saul Levine