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US10K Classic

eebee's picture
2006.09.04 7:25 am
2006.09.04 8:15 am

If you're going to be in or near Atlanta on Labor Day, or at least within reasonable driving distance, I highly recommend this event. www.us10k.org


The race's catchphrase over the years, which usually makes it to the event T-shirt:


Yeah, that’s right.
The course with the tough hills.
We’ve got hills.
Life’s got hills.
What are you going to do?
Walk away?
Or face the challenge.


Ok, Ok, it's only a measly 10k. However, it comprises 6.2 miles of either steep (approx.) 1/2 mile uphills, or steep 1/2 mile downhills (I went out and drove it, trying to measure how long the hills were). It's on US Hwy 41 in Cobb County near the Galleria Mall - that is, on an über-multilane closed road with smooth pavement. Your quads and lungs won't know what hit them at 7.25am.


This wonderfully orchestrated event starts off halfway down one of the 1/2 mile fast downhills, with the 100k pro-cycling race at 7.15 am (which George Hincapie won in 2004), women's 10k cycling sprint at 7.20 am, the inline skaters' 10k at 7.25 am (Eddy Matzger has won it umpteen times, and an indoor NC lass won the women's in 2005, I believe) , the wheelchair racers start at 7.30 am (you should see those folk go!), and 7.45 am is the start for the 'run & walk', which is usually won by the leanest-looking humans I've ever seen in my life. 


Yeah, it's early in the morning. But as your jelly-legs cross the finish line after a Oh-please-God-don't-let-me-wipe-out-in-front-of-all-those-people-and-cameras fast downhill, you will see that as an inline-skater you are one of the first ones to feast on the stunning Publix breakfast spread, since the pro-cycling 100k hasn't finished yet, and all the runner riff-raff are about 1 hr behind you. Skaters also get to watch the world-class athletes finish their cycling and running races.


No cross-drafting allowed. Beginners are discouraged from taking part, and you must be confident flying downhill in a tuck (at least right off the start line among hundreds of skaters). If you have trained for, or done A2A, you should be fine. In years past there have been bagpipe players, bluegrass and steel drum bands at the tops of the hills, as well as pockets of spectators cheering, with water "stops" every mile or so - just try not to soak the boyscout volunteers as you grapple in vain at high speeds for the water they're offering you.


This event to me has always represented a good reality-check on my hill-climbing prowess, or lack thereof, each year before A2A. I like to try to take part if I feel I can complete the course in under 40 mins. Much after that and you're just getting in the way of the wheelchair racers. I think my best time was 26 mins or so. My first year I crossed the finish line a few seconds before the guy who won the wheelchair race, which started 10 minutes after the skaters! How humbling.


Since the US10k Classic usually gets a fair amount of media coverage, I think it's important for skaters to sign up and support the skating portion of the event. Snazzily colorful skinsuits on lithe speedskaters makes an eye-grabbing photo for the front page of the newspaper. What an effective way to boost visibility of our sport. The event's beneficiaries include a variety of children's charities.


Entry fee for the inline race = $35. There was a discount for early-registration by mail before Aug 1st., and there is a team discount. Info available on the site. Registration is through Active.com, so if you're a member there you also get a discount. I recommend browsing the event expo & festival which takes place the Saturday and Sunday preceding the race - lots of freebies, samples, running & cycling equipment, as well as a chance to sign-up for the race in person. Athletes come from all over the world to take part in this race.


Sure! You could save the time & money traveling, and just go find your steepest local hills to sprint up and down twelve times. But it wouldn't be the same thrill as staring down that first chute at the start line among hundreds of skinny rink-speedsters, pulse racing in your throat, hoping to God nobody wipes out in front of you, legs wobbling so hard it's like you forgot how to climb hills, chest burning at the third uphill with spots before your eyes, heartbeat thumping in your ears as you pass the military aircraft sitting in tranquility at Dobbins Air Force Base around mile 4...come on out!! It's a blast!!


Just for the record: In my 6 years of participating, I never saw anybody ever wipe out during this race, and the downhills are a breeze since it's a closed course and every single hill has a run-out.


eebee's picture

US10K Classic route

So, it's a straight line :-)  But the elevation looked like a good portrayal of this tough course.


eebee's picture

The Hills of Cobb Parkway & the US10K Classic

Can ya tell how much I really want you all to try this race?!? I keep going on about it...


I've been looking for some photos that represent the ... uh ... undulations on this course. Here are some from Eddy Matzger's site:

The hills:






Sprint to the finish at the Big Chicken:




And Blake grabbed a tiny snippet of the first gut-wrenching uphill:


eebee's picture

Youtube Video of US10K Classic Finish Line 2006

This gives an idea of the downhill speeds.


Only 9 months to go til US10K Classic 2007 (Sept. 3rd) 



profjb2000's picture

US 10K Classic

The speed doesn't look so bad. It is the climbing part that worries me. :)

eebee's picture

US10k Classic Uphills

 "It is the climbing part that worries me. :)"


Absolutely! The nasty yet exhilarating thing about this event is that it combines steep uphills with a sprint. So you feel like you have to blast your guts out, especially at the beginning when everybody's in a frenzy trying to motivate themselves up that first hill. But after the nausea and your leg muscles have disappeared, it's actually a lot of fun. Only problem with that finish line downhill is controlling your leg-shaking enough to make it to the balloons without a spectacular downhill wipe out.

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