After many years going after it, MPC World Team finally gets the coveted triple crown of the fall classics in the USA. The triple crown, as coined by the best ultra distance skaters in the world, consists of winning The Northshore Inline Marathon, The New York 100K, and the grueling Athens 2 Atlanta 87-mile Road Skate, going from Athens, Georgia all the way to Atlanta, GA.
Winning these three events has been a challenge for many skaters, and a goal for MPC’s Wheel Product Manager, Francisco Ramirez.
“We have come close to winning this crown, but always came short. The last time we were really close was in 2015, when Carlos Perez won both NorthShore Inline Marathon and the New York 100K, but had to leave back to Colombia for his National Championships”, said Ramirez.
As far as we know, the only other skaters to come close were French skater Benoit Pertois, Colombian Mauricio Garcia, and USA’s ultra distance legend Eddie Matzger, who all won The New York 100k and the A2A races in the same year.
Winning these three races is a really big challenge, as you need the ability to sprint against world class sprinters at the Northshore Inline Marathon, as well as having the legs and lungs to win the two hardest ultra long distance races in the world: The New York 100k and the Athens 2 Atlanta race.
“We are very proud of this achievement,” said Ramirez with a glowing smile after placing second himself at the Atlanta race, a second after his teammate Ken Kuwada.
“Ken and I trained really long and hard right after Duluth for him to win the two remaining races. We also tried to get me in the right shape to beat the cramps and all other skaters, so that we could get 1st and 2nd on the podium at the Atlanta ultra distance event. I am really happy to have been a part of this achievement and also to be able to place second to such an amazing athlete and friend,” said Ramirez.
We caught up with Ken after A2A and asked him about his feat. Here are his thoughts on his racing here in the USA:
I am very proud to be the first person to win the triple crown. I knew my best race would be The Northshore Inline Marathon in Duluth since I am not used to skating for over 2 hours. I think the first one was the easiest of the 3. In Duluth, I knew that if I wanted to win, I would have to go on a break away because there were better sprinters than me; this is why I broke away for the last 7 miles. I went on my own and finished a minute ahead of the group. I was really happy to go under Chad’s record and unfortunately we knew coming in that the record would not be recognized, due to a change in the course before the finish line.
The race I enjoyed the most was the second stop, The NYC Skate Marathon & New York 100K. I loved the course, the people, and the energy in Prospect Park, with its big downhill and uphill. I love that we (MPC Team) raced as a real team. I asked Francisco and Chevi how they wanted to race. After a lengthy discussion, the team decided to race in a way in which we would control the pace and make sure the whole team would finish in the pack. I knew this would make my race harder, as Chevi and Elton have a faster sprint, but I was happy to out-sprint them at the end.
My return ticket to Argentina was right after the 100k but Fran asked me if I wanted to go for the triple crown, do the last race on the circuit. Since I love a challenge, I said yes. I have always thought a challenge is the best way to grow up.
So we started preparing for A2A as soon as we were done with the 100k. The day finally came; Fran and I had a plan to attack really early in the race and pull most of it on our own. We couldn’t get rid of everyone so we went with plan B, which was to do our best to get 1st and 2nd. A2A was for sure the hardest of the three races. I never felt comfortable and had lots of pain in my knee. In the last 20 miles, I was leading and Eddie kept the attacks coming. In the last 10 miles, Fran saw that I wasn’t feeling well and asked if I was ok. I laughed it off, said it was all a mind game, and kept on going (but I was struggling really bad at that moment).
Fran asked me to pick up the pace to discourage any attacks in the final uphills. Then he started the sprint with about 1 1/2 miles to the end. He lead the whole sprint until the last corner, where he went wide and told me to go clear for the win. I was really happy to see he got second at the finish, edging out Jerome by a wheel.
After the finish, I saw everyone smiling and enjoying themselves, and I could barely move. Fran looked at me with a smile and said, “good to see that you are mortal!”
I loved the results, and love having won the triple crown, but most of all I love skating with my team. It is great to have a group of people going after a single goal and being part of it. I have never done or heard much about ultra marathons, but after doing these last races, I realize how much I enjoy them. Now I know that these are real marathons on skates.
Hope to skate them again!
*** All races were won on 110MM Junk Road Reaper Wheels. ***