Skater report - Larry O'Connor



About five weeks ago, my daughter, Erin, told me that she was going to try a 128 km challenge around the island of Montreal on in-line roller skates. Not to be outdone by such foolishness, I meekly said I would go with her for as long as I could.

Off I went to purchase my first pair of blades and in no time I realised I was in big trouble. We trained together for five weeks, mostly on the week-ends. I managed a skate to my son's house in Candiac and back, but that was three and a half hours and only 30 km. Well, at least I would give it a shot and I would be encouragement for my daughter.

Then Saturday morning arrived: dark, wet and cold. We milled together with the other bladers at the start line behind the old Verdun Auditorium and at 6:00 AM in the pouring rain amazed by the sight of professional looking athletes, who were very confident looking but also pleasant and helpful.

And off we went: through Verdun, Lasalle, Lachine, Dorval and Pointe Claire where we checked in and had a break. I was tired and sore, but Erin was pushing me not to quit. After 15 minutes we were blading again: through Pointe Claire, Beaconsfield, Baie d'Urfé, Ste Anne de Bellevue, Senneville and into Pierrefonds for the second check-point.

It's a little after 10:00 AM and after 50 km in the rain I have had enough. But Erin goes on: through Pierrefonds, Roxboro, Cartierville, Ahuntsic and into Montreal North for the third check-point. She is very tired and very wet. After a change of clothes and a light lunch, she is off again.

We follow along by car as Erin skates through: Montreal North, Rivière des Prairies and Pointe aux Trembles, where she checks in at the final rest-stop. My daughter is really tired but she wants to go on. After a 10 minute break, Erin is on her way again, on the last leg of the challenge. I can't believe that she's still able to go on.

It's after 3:00 PM and Erin has done over 100 km!!! We are amazed that she has any strength at all to continue, but she does: through Pointe aux Trembles, Montreal East, Tetraultville, Hochelaga, Maisonneuve, Old Montreal, Point St Charles and into Verdun. It is now dark again, raining still and cold. Erin has been having problems during this last leg of the course. We've been guiding her and protecting her through the city streets. Finally she spots the Auditorium and she sprints to the finish line into my waiting arms. She will get a bronze medal. I will put it in a gold frame. Thank you all.

Larry O'Connor