In this segment, NorthShore interviews a select, exclusive group of skaters who have completed every single NorthShore Inline Marathon since the inaugural race in 1996.
Today, we talk with Kelly Schreyer. She and her husband Cris have completed every single NorthShore Inline Marathon together… talk about a power couple! Their story and their commitment is very inspirational. Read on to hear how they overcame huge odds with Cris’s cancer diagnosis last summer to skate together and finish their 22nd NorthShore Inline Marathon in a row.
NorthShore Inline Marathon (NSIM): First, can you introduce yourself… where are you from, what do you do?
Kelly Schreyer (KS): Cris and I are both originally from Two Harbors, MN; we got married and moved to Duluth, MN – so we are very familiar with the North Shore! We currently live in Chisago City, MN, but still make many trips north to enjoy that beautiful area!
NSIM: What is your history with inline skating? How were you introduced to the sport?
KS: Cris and I both owned inline skates, but they were really more just for fun. We had both grown up roller-skating, so it was just a natural transition and something to do on beautiful summer days.
NSIM: Think back to 1996, how did you first hear about the race and why did you sign up?
KS: I worked at a clinic in Duluth, and a few co-workers started talking about the inline marathon that was going to be starting, and they were signing up. I mentioned it to Cris and we decided it sounded like a ton of fun and we ended up signing up, too! My co-workers did it for several years as well and it was fun to connect with them every year.
NSIM: What was that first year like?
KS: That first year we didn’t have the right equipment – my skates were not quality and the wheels barely rolled! Cris’ were better, but we just weren’t well prepared. It was brutal! We had no idea about drafting that first year and yet somehow we made it to the finish! It was such a high, that we have just never stopped! Coming around that last corner to the finish is worth every hill you need to skate up!
NSIM: What makes you come back year after year? When did you realize that doing every single race was “your thing”?
KS: I’ll be honest and say that there have been a few years that we (ok – mostly I) thought about not doing the race…but the reason for staying in it is special to us. Life is busy. Work is work. We have two beautiful girls that take our time. But the race belongs to us. We started it after the first year we got married and it’s sort of become our weekend. It’s that one weekend out of the year that no matter what is going on, this is the priority for us.
NSIM: 22 years is a long time and a big commitment. Have you overcome any big challenges to “toe the line”?
KS: I’ve done the marathon twice being pregnant (with doctor’s permission), twice just a couple months after having children, with bronchitis, and getting over the fear of doing it again after taking a bad fall the year before.
Cris was diagnosed June 2017 with Stage IV Colon Cancer. He was so sick that we didn’t know if we would be able to do the race last year. But it was so important to him to not let cancer keep him from doing it, that we decided to do it knowing we were going to take it slow and if at any point we needed to stop, we would. It was an emotional race for both of us. We are grateful that the chemo/treatments have been working for him. He is still doing chemo every 2 to 3 weeks to manage it – and at this point, it will always be this way for him until they find a cure. So here’s a shout out to the Kiss My Skates skating team! We recently bought a tshirt in support of them…and we encourage everyone to support this great cause!! We have signed up for the race again this year and plan on being there and staying strong!
NSIM: Do you have a particular NSIM year or moment that sticks out to you?
KS: There are a lot of moments that stick out! Pre-kids (so we had time to train!!) we came in at 1:34, which was our best time. That year just felt really good. Then there was the year of that awful head wind. That was terrible! I remember the year I shattered my tailbone around mile 18 – but we still finished! I did fall on London Road once, too – there were these cute little 3 to 5 year olds dressed up as cheerleaders and I smiled over at them and my skate got caught in a snake and down I went! Hopefully it didn’t end their cheerleading careers! Cris and I both love the start of the race – all the energy and excitement.
NSIM: What is your favorite part of the NorthShore Inline Marathon? Favorite aspect of the event? What makes the NSIM unique?
C&K: Cris and I both appreciate all the people who come out to cheer as we skate by! Especially those that stand on top of Lemon Drop hill, as that is a hard one to get up! And then it’s just such a beautiful course! And a huge shout out to all the volunteers and the team that works on putting this together ever year!!!! You are all awesome! Thank you!!
NSIM: What is your best advice for someone who has never done an inline marathon or a race on skates? Or for somebody who doesn’t know if they’re capable of a full marathon?
C&K: Go for it!! It’s fun and so rewarding. You are absolutely capable of finishing the race. Go into it with the mindset of doing it for the enjoyment of it! It’s truly a sport that anyone can do at any age! It’s one of the best things about inline skating!
NSIM: Do you have any favorite training tips or workouts?
C&K: We usually just start out by getting out there and having fun. Then as the race gets closer we add some speed and miles to the workout.
NSIM: What is your training like? Where do you typically train? Are you more regimented or just try to get out there? How many hours per week on average? Do you have a coach or training group?
C&K: We used to train every single day for a few months leading up to race day. Then we had kids and they had their own activities and we didn’t always have time to get out there…so now it’s more of a ‘we get out there when we can’ and make the most of it! We don’t do it so much anymore to ‘beat our time’, but just to have fun being a part of an incredible event!!
NSIM: Do you cross-train with different sports and/or do you compete in any other sports or events?
C&K: Cris’ job is very physical, so he doesn’t need a lot of off season exercise to stay in shape. Kelly does a lot of kickboxing and enjoys running/walking along with some P90X training.
NSIM: What is your equipment setup for the 2018 race season? Give us an idea of your preferred skates/equipment.
C&K: Both of our skates are a few years old, but they still fit so well that we haven’t really wanted to get a new pair. We just replace the wheels and the bearings to keep them fast and look forward to those downhills!!!