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 are on double duty, talking with both Jen Hoglund and Randy Olson. They are gearing up to skate their 23rd NorthShore Inline Marathon together.
NorthShore (NS): When did you start skating? What got you interested in skating?
Randy Olson (RS): I started inline skating in the early 90’s. I was a former hockey player and high school official, so it was a natural transition. My history with the NSIM is definitely unique. I am a founding board member and served on the board from 1995 thru 2002 (Board Chair 2001). My history with the inline was watching an idea become a world class event. I am extremely proud of being a part of the largest inline marathon in the US over the past 22 years. Being a former hockey player, I had to be a part of this event and throughout the years have been totally invested in its growth and success. I am Duluth born and raised, graduated from UMD, and worked at Minnesota Power (from 1980 – 2005). As part of a wellness initiative at Minnesota Power, I helped organize the MP Inline Striders which was a company-sponsored group of inline skaters to train and skate the inline marathon. I have since relocated to Lakeville, MN but continue to visit Duluth.
Jen Hoglund (JH): My sister and I used to Rollerskate and ice skate, so I thought Rollerblading seemed really fun to try. Add in the beautiful Munger Trail and I was hooked. My sister Jen worked at Minnesota Power and invited me to join the MP Inline Striders. That was the beginning of my friendship with Randy.
NS: How long have you been skating partners? How did you start skating together?
RO: Jen and I started skating together in year 3 of the marathon as part of the Minnesota Power Inline Striders (a corporate skating group that I headed up for my employer).
JH: The group was such a great way to get out and be with others who enjoyed skating and just having fun. I have loved ALL of my skating partners through the years. Randy and I have been skating in the most recent stretch of marathons with Dan and Karen and the four of us have our matching shirts ready for Saturday.
NS: What is your favorite thing about skating with each other?
RO: Both Jen and I have a passion for skating and a strong desire to support skating events throughout Minnesota. We supported MS for 10 years (1997 – 2007) in their SUN75 skate (Hinckley to Duluth), 12 years (2006 -2018) of the MN Half Marathon in St. Paul, and soon to be NSIM #23.
Our skating times over the years have ranged from 1 hour, 35 minutes to just over 2 hours. It is now more about enjoying the skate and staying together than wanting to set records, but we generally expect to be around 2 hours.
JH: We both like to push ourselves/each other to do well, but also really strive to have fun. It is a good combination and we can focus on which is most important at the time.
NS: What is your most memorable time that you have had while skating?
RO: Honestly, they have all been special in their own way. Hosting spaghetti feeds (pre-race), family/friends support on the course, scenic north shore, and always staying together! The Minnesota Power Inline Striders team allowed us to train and practice weekly as a group. The group size varied from year to year and had 20 to 50 participants. This group dissolved shortly after I left Minnesota Power in 2005 when I relocated to the Cities.
JH: I remember skating in front of a few friends (taking turns leading the train) and when I looked back I couldn’t see the end of the line of skaters behind me. It really is fun to line up like this and feel the power of the group.
The second race I decided to go on my own and not wait for anyone. I hated it. I guess I’m not very competitive and I really just missed sharing the whole experience with friends. I am glad that happened, because I now know exactly what is my priority: it is to have fun! We have actually stopped and waited for people, had lots of falls, equipment malfunctions, wind, rain…and through it all, so much fun skating as a group! I think we have had as many as 18 of us starting out together, but through the years we have four of us who really stick together (Randy, Jen, Dan and Karen) and others that come and go through the more recent years (Sarah, Jess, Kristine, Ann, Rebecca….).
NS: What is your favorite aspect of the NorthShore Inline Marathon?
RO: Showcasing Duluth, the scenic north shore, and having a first class event!
JH: I love seeing other people enjoying what I enjoy. The camaraderie at the packet pickup, the bus ride, the starting line…it is all just so fun and exciting!
NS: You have skated 22 consecutive NorthShore Inline Marathons, what keeps you coming back?
RO: I wouldn’t miss it…..an annual highlight for me see family and friends and skate an event that is near and dear to me. The only thing to stop me would be illness or injury.
JH: We have really enjoyed all of our skates together and although they are a bit slower and less frequent (we used to train every week!) I can’t imagine life without my rollerblades and my rollerblade friends! Note that I have skated three races while pregnant, so for sure a lot has changed!
NS: How are you training for the race this year?
RO: In my competitive years I would skate a couple times a week. These days I bike to work a couple days a week in the summer and get a few skates in around the lakes in the Twin Cities (including the St. Paul Half) in early August as a tune-up.
JH: I have made it down to the amazing new pavement at the Munger trail seven times this year! Since three kids and a dog make it much harder to find time to get away to pavement I consider my morning walks with the dog and leisurely bike rides with the kids as training too.
NS: Do you have any advice for skaters?
RO: My advice would be to stay active and keep skating and remember to continue to support events like the NSIM because without it, events like this will go away.
JH: My first advice is always: make sure you feel comfortable stopping. Going somewhere that you can just skate (like Munger trail) is much better than worrying about traffic or other interferences. If you are unsure about being ‘athletic enough’ for a half or full marathon, please believe me- you CAN do it and you will love it and want to come back for more!