Roller skating was a favorite childhood pastime for Mandy Burbank, but for most of her life, four-wheel skates were a distant memory.
But a few months ago, she rediscovered her passion for skating, leading her to join inline and quad skaters from across the world on a roll through Napa vineyards Sunday.
“I used to skate as a little girl, but when I was in elementary school, inline skates came out. I loved my quads and all the kids teased me for being on quads, so I quit,” said Burbank, a 29-year-old Chicago resident. “I started volunteering with high school students a year ago, and we went skating and I had so much fun I thought, ‘Why did I stop?’ So I got a pair of skates and asked myself, ‘What is the wildest thing I could do on skates?’ I heard people do marathons.”
Since March, Burbank trained for her first marathon, which she skated Sunday with more than 150 others on Silverado Trail between Oak Knoll Avenue and Oakville Cross Road.
The road was closed for the 18th annual Napa Valley Inline Marathon and Half Marathon so skaters, some Bay Area locals and visitors from France, Germany, Australia and other countries, could have free reign of the course.
“These people live for these types of events, where you get a closed, smooth road and you can skate distances, not just like in a roller rink where you go in circles,” said organizer David Miles, 55, of San Francisco.
The event began as an informal marathon for local skaters and ran up Silverado Trail from Trancas Street into Calistoga, Miles said. The marathon, sponsored by the California Outdoor Rollersports Association, is the only inline skating marathon in the western United States.
“If you’re going to do an inline marathon, this is the place to do it,” said Paula Amenta, who came from Chicago with her daughter, Burbank, for the marathon. The two were celebrating Amenta’s 49th birthday and plan to return to Napa and the marathon for her 50th.
Jon Henry, 39, of Middletown, also skated with family and has participated in the marathon for three years.
“It’s designed for the average, recreational skater,” said Henry, whose daughter, Amanda Henry, skated the half-marathon for the first time Sunday. “If you want to race, you can and you’re timed and we’ve got a lot of professionals here. But if you just want to skate for fun, you can do that too.”
Amanda, 12, said there were some challenges along the way, but crossing the finish line of cheering spectators made up for the exhaustion and scrapes.
“It was hard at some parts. Going up hills, I just wanted to pass out,” she said. “I had a friend with me so I was just trying to keep up with her.”
Sandrine Lardit, a native of France who is now living in Mountain View, said skating is easy on muscles and joints and perfect for just about anyone.
“It’s a lot easier on the knees and on the back, and it’s so nice to be outside and on the road,” Lardit, 39, said. “It’s a great atmosphere to be with all the people who like to skate.”