Thirteen years ago, as the popularity of inline skating peaked, members of Chicago-based Team Rainbo skating club began cruising the streets of Hoffman Estates.
The village provided an ideal central weekend practice site for a team whose members hailed from as far south as Orland Park and as far north as Lake Geneva, Wis.
Team Rainbo members now hope their old practice site will provide a perfect backdrop for one of skating's largest events.
On July 26, Hoffman Estates will host the second annual Chicagoland Inline Marathon and Half Marathon, featuring men and women of different skill abilities and ages. Mundelein hosted the inaugural marathon last year.
"It's a great opportunity for anybody who likes skating to put on a pair of skates and be around other people that like to put on skates," said Team Rainbo member Greg Major of Oak Park.
Top skaters like Jordan Nelson, Norm Kirby, Hernan Diaz and Mike Anderson are set to strut their stuff. If event organizers meet their goal of drawing 1,000 participants, the event would be inline skating's third-largest in North America, behind the NorthShore Inline Marathon held in Duluth, Minn., which draws about 4,500 skaters annually.
Local inline skaters typically have to travel far to compete and welcome the potential of having a regular stop on their circuit close by.
Team Rainbo, established in 1989 by Cale Carvell, is one of the oldest clubs in the country with about 80 members. It's named after the venerable Rainbo Roller Rink, which closed five years ago on Chicago's North Side.
The club is organizing the marathon and proposed the idea to village officials in April. Race director Peter Starykowicz of Long Grove, a veteran race organizer, said Hoffman Estates is ideal. The event is kind of inline skating's answer to the Tour of Elk Grove cycling race, and Starykowicz said he hopes to have similar success.
"The course is in excellent shape. There's not a lot of cracks in the pavement," he said. "It kind of glides really nice."
Inline and traditional roller skating are seeing a revival in the U.S., including the bevy of women's roller derby teams that use quad skates and are popping up across the country. But it remains most popular abroad. Team Rainbo's George Quinn of Glenview noted a recent race in Korea drew about 15,000 skaters.
Organizers of the Hoffman Estates marathon want to draw new skaters by also holding events like a free "Young Guns" race for skaters 8 and younger, an industry expo and skating clinics.
With $4,500 in prize money, organizers wish the purse was larger. Quinn said there just isn't much money in inline skating.
"If I could, I would retire and be a pro skater," he said.
Until then, he'll keep his day job as a construction contractor. Even at 58, Quinn said he'll skate as long as he can.
Chuck Burke of the Northbrook Skating Club was a speed skater in the 1952 and '56 Winter Olympics. He's a friend of Quinn's and hopes to see the inline skating marathon become a regular occurrence.
"A few years ago, when inlining first came around, they had a lot of events almost every weekend somewhere in the area," he said.
Quinn hopes to see youths come out and take a break from video games. He said they're missing out on some real fun. There's still time to sign up.
"They're sitting around and killing aliens all day," he said, "and that's not a good thing."
If you go
What: The 2nd Annual Chicagoland Inline Marathon
When: July 26, first race starts at 8 a.m. near Freeman Road and Lakewood Boulevard, Hoffman Estates; skating expo from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 25 at Hilton Garden Inn, 2425 Barrington Road; free skating clinic 1 p.m. July 12 at Prairie Stone Business Park, Pratum Avenue and Prairie Stone Parkway
Registration: Free for ages 8 and under; $15-$70 for others
Info: (847) 344-0861 or chicagolandinlinemarathon.com; for info about skating clinic e-mail email@example.com
Road closures: In effect 8 a.m.-noon on race day, including Lakewood Boulevard just east of the entrance to La Strada and Jersey's; Huntington Boulevard between Lakewood and Central Road, and Central from Ela Road to east of Claire's. Access to La Strada, Jersey's and Claire's will be granted.