Athens-to-Atlanta 2006 - The 25th Anniversary A2A


Team SK8Hard from Lake Elmo, Minnesota choose to start and finish

the Triple Marathon-plus Athens-to-Atlanta as many skaters do: together.

 Copyright © 2006 - Used with permission; click images to enlarge.



How do you celebrate a 25th Anniversary?

By skating backwards for 87 Miles, of course.


October 1, 2006  Atlanta, GA      by Scott Nilsson

Copyright © 2006 Scott Nilsson - Used with permission.



For twenty-five years, several hundred skaters have lined up at dawn on an early autumn Sunday in Athens, Georgia – home of REM and the B-52s – for a brisk skate to Piedmont Park in Atlanta, 87 miles away.


Even the first year, they raised money for the Leukemia Society – before inline skates, back when everyone skated on "quads" and there were only a dozen skaters. On their leisurely 12-hour skate to Atlanta in 1981, they stopped for pizza and beer along the course. This year, nearly four hundred skaters from 5 countries and 32 states took the Starting Line a bit more seriously: the front pack averaged nearly twenty miles-per-hour, faster than most people have ever ridden on a bicycle. The 87-mile course record now stands at 4 hours and 19 minutes at an average of 20.17 MPH.















On the Road Again! On his 87-mile

journey from Athens-to-Atlanta:

Eddy Matzger cranks through

a turn. (Click images to enlarge)


Copyright © 2006

Used with permission.

Athens-to-Atlanta – the Granddaddy of Ultra Marathon Road Skates – now includes three distance options of 38, 52 or 87 miles. An international favorite among fitness and speed skaters alike, many return every year from as far away as Boston, Montreal, San Diego, Germany, Australia, Japan and Italy – to compete in, or just complete, the Wimbledon of road skating.


Every year brings something different: new friends and teammates, variations in the weather (rain or shine, they skate the whole distance), new winners and – once in awhile – something completely different. Like a wedding-on-skates at the starting line. Or the year a soccer player skated A2A while dribbling his soccer ball – his head shaved to match the pattern on the ball.


To celebrate the 25th this year, Scott Jones, President of the Georgia International Road Skating Association – the new parent of A2A – and eight-time winner Eddy Matzger presented founding organizer Henry Zuver with a plaque of appreciation for his 25 years of service to the event. Mr. Zuver was honored with a long standing ovation from all the skaters. The following morning, Mr. Zuver’s teenage daughters, Anna and Amelia – who are considerably younger than Athens-to-Atlanta and have grown up in the skater community – sang the National Anthem in harmony at the Starting Line.


 (Click images to enlarge)








Founding Organizer Henry Zuver

honored by Eddy Matzger on behalf

of the Georgia International Road

Skating Association (GIRSA) for

25 years of service to Athens-to-Atlanta.


Copyright © 2006 Used with permission.

Then there is Eddy Matzger – a speed skating legend who conducts skating workshops for students from China to Tahiti. He keeps all the skaters guessing each year: what costume will Eddy wear to the Starting Line? In past years, he has begun the 87-mile journey as everything from The Great Pumpkin to The Grim Reaper; this year, he skated as a giant 25th Anniversary sign for Athens-to-Atlanta.


Donning a new Start Line costume every year,

eight-time overall winner Eddy Matzger appeared

as a large "25" sign, celebrating the 25th Anniversary

of Athens-to-Atlanta. In past years, Eddy has come

as everything from The Big Chicken to The Grim Reaper.

 (Click images to enlarge)









Copyright © 2006 - Used with permission.

But the most unique celebration came from French Canadian skater Nicolas Ratthé – who celebrated the 25th Anniversary of A2A by skating the entire 87 Mile course in reverse – completing the event in just over 9 hours at a pace of nearly 10 MPH. An ice-hockey convert, Nicolas is a natural "backwards skater" and maintains that skating in reverse is a good aerodynamic position. Was 87 miles backwards enough? We shall see. Nick is considering an attempt on his "A2A Renversé" record in 2007.


Eddy M in awe as Nicolas Ratthé completes

the 87 Mile Ultra Marathon backwards!

 (Click images to enlarge)














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Used with permission.

 (Click images to enlarge)












French Canadian Nicolas Ratthé after

completing the 87 Mile Finish of A2A –

skating the entire course backwards.

 Your read that correctly: 87 miles in reverse.


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Used with permission.

Just past the 72 mile mark near historic Stone Mountain, at the foot of a nearly 50 MPH downhill, Eddy Matzger and Italian Mauro Guenci (who had finished second to Eddy for three years straight) were trailing Canadian leader Aaron Arndt by over four minutes – with less than 15 miles to go. The chase began together, but Guenci burned up the asphalt to catch Aaron alone at the finish – where he barely passed Arndt in a final-stretch sprint.


Italian Winner of the 25th Anniversary Athens-to-Atlanta –

Mauro Guenci, Team Roller Senigallia – snatches victory

from a spent Silver Medalist, Aaron Arndt.

 (Click images to enlarge)











Copyright © 2006 Tish Gorman

Used with permission.









Erica O'Connor, Women’s Winner of the

87 Mile A2A is cheered to her finish

by skating legend Eddy Matzger.



Copyright © 2006

Used with permission.

Asked by founding organizer Henry Zuver at the pre-race Rant, how many planned to come back in 2007 – and in 2041 for the 50th Anniversary of Athens-to-Atlanta – hundreds of assembled skaters and volunteers roared their approval. They have a date, and they are already signing up; registration for the 26th A2A is open at


The 26th Annual Athens to Atlanta: Sunday, October 7, 2007.


Official placements for the 25th Anniversary 2006 A2A


Athens-to-Atlanta 87 / 52 / 38 Mile Ultra Marathon Road Skate


1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

87 Mile  M

Mauro Guenci/40

Aaron Arndt/26

Peter Doucet/29


Erica O'Connor/24

Karin Gabriel/24
Jessica Wright/28

52 Mile  M

Daniel McCalpin/18

Juan Tabares/20

Danny Dunne/41


Melissa Escobar/18
Christine Caron/40
Monique Mansoura/43

38 Mile  M

Alan Marcosson/56

Robert Blinken Jr/ 49

Youri Juteau/33


Kari Brown-Herbst/44

Kimberly Duerksen/29

Alice Glenn/52



Overall Results for Athens-to-Atlanta 2006, all distances:

87-Mile Overall Results
87-Mile Results by Division

52-Mile Overall Results
52-Mile Results by Division
Preliminary results, not verified

38-Mile Overall Results
38-Mile Results by Division

25th Anniversary A2A: Sunday, October 1, 2006


Atlanta writer Scott Nilsson is a former co-organizer and skater of Athens-to-Atlanta, online at / Photographer Sam Sneed is online at, with all the images of A2A at:


Copyright © 2006 Scott Nilsson - Used with permission.