On the 1st June 2019 the Federation of Inline Speed Skating (FISS) will proudly host the European Masters Inline Marathon. The venue, Lee Valley Velopark in the Queen Elizabeth Park, was the cycling hub for the London 2012 Olympics. We look forward to welcome competitors from every country in Europe.
By rail Nearest station/tube: Stratford / Stratford International. Lee Valley VeloPark is a 20 minute walk from both stations. Stratford station is served by: Underground: Jubilee and Central Lines Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
National rail: Abellio Greater Anglia for services to Liverpool Street and Essex and East Anglia
London Overground services Stratford International station is served by: Docklands Light Railway (DLR) National Rail: Southeastern High Speed 1 services to St Pancras International
By bus Several bus routes connect to Stratford and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with the key routes being: 388, 308, 339, 97 and N205 which all stop near Lee Valley VeloPark.
Access to the road circuit is to the right of the "Cycle Surgery" bicycle shop, and will be signed.
Further information can be found on the official site here:
We had skaters represent Great Britain abroad right from the early 1920’s, but back then there were no World or European Championships. That all changed in the 1930’s when the F.I.P.R. (the ancestor of what we know today as F.I.R.S.) decided that there were enough countries to now hold major championships. The first World and European Championships were all held on the road, but then in 1938 the first “World Track Championship” was held here in Great Britain.The event was held over three days in April at the Empire Pool and Sports Arena, Wembley. All three British men, Bill Ross, Harold Wilkinson and Arthur Cooper (no women until 1953) came away with World titles.
War soon put a stop to any thoughts of any more championships and not until 1948 did the F.I.P.R. hold any more major internationals. In 1947, however, Britain decided to hold their own event and with a British team consisting of Bob Halford, Bill Cook and Stan “Jimmy” Hartigan, they took on an all-star international team from Belgium on the Pier Pavilion Rink at Herne Bay.
We then move forward 30 years and in 1977 the National Skating Association (N.S.A.) decide to hold an international event at Battersea Park, London. Two British teams took on a French team consisting of future World Champion, Thierry Penot and the mighty Italians consisting of Lovato, Marotta, Ruggeri and Del Papa, giants on the international stage.
Three years later and Britain was once more to host a major international, the 1980 European Road Championships at Southampton. Italian sprint legend Cantarella made his one and only appearance in Britain and he was joined by other greats such as Cruciani (Italy), Van de Perre (Belgium) and Nacibide (France). In 1982 the Alexandra Palace club hosted an international event at Tatem Park and again Italy sent out their big guns for a national team. Cruciani, De Persio, Fossi and Bagnolini all donned the “azzuro” shirt and set new track records in the process. In 1983 the new banked track at Birmingham Wheels was set to open. John Fry senior had been instrumental in getting it built and called upon all his influence to secure the Junior European Championships on the circuit. The road events were held at Windley Leisure Centre, Sutton Coldfield and the track events, of course, at Birmingham. British skaters Ashley Harlow and Lisa Smith swept all before them, becoming Britain’s first major international winners on home soil since 1938. 1985 then saw the World Games come to London. Speed skating had been part of the first World Games in 1981 in Santa Clara, USA, and so was included again four years later. The Alexandra Palace club made hay whilst the sun shone. Before the World Games started in earnest they held an international event on Tatem Park that saw the likes of Bobby Kaiser (USA), Donnie Van Patter (USA), Tony Keefe (Australia), Mary Luz Tristan (Colombia), Calvin Gabides (New Zealand) and Ann Bloomfield (Australia) all take part as a warm up for the games themselves. A week later and the elite from all the top speed skating nations, watched by an enthusiastic British crowd, took to a circuit at Crystal Palace to compete in the second World Games. The early/mid 1980’s was a golden era for major international competition on British soil and British skaters of all ages and abilities got to rub shoulders and stand on the same track as some of their idols, many of whom were World Champions. And then, just as suddenly as it had all started, it stopped.
The 1993 World Championships were held in Colorado Springs, USA. It was bitterly cold and other than the competing athletes and coaches the crowd was virtually none existent. John Fry senior was “chewing the fat” with an old adversary, Sabatino Aracu, by now a big player in the F.I.R.S. hierarchy, and happened to comment that “times have changed and skating needs to go to the public and not expect the public to come to it. Last year’s first World Championship marathon in Rome was a great spectacle. What you need is something like an international marathon series. Something that the masses can compete in...”. Coincidence or not, very soon afterwards the World Inline Cup (WIC) emerged as a major global marathon series that reached every corner of the world. Skaters who had only previously been known amongst their own were suddenly catapulted into almost superstardom. Hedrick (USA), Cliff (USA), Botero (Colombia), Gicquel (France), Briand (France), Presti (Italy), Herrero (Spain)...the list goes on. Fry became the Chairman of F.I.S.S. and set about jumping on this bandwagon. In 1997 he hooked a deal with internationally renowned Swiss watch manufacturer, Raymond Weil. The company had just launched its new W1 watch and Fry got them to sponsor Britain’s first international marathon, the Raymond Weil W1 International Marathon, which was held on Madeira Drive, Brighton. Famous cyclist and BBC cycling commentator, Hugh Porter, provided the commentary whilst Olympic gold medallist Daley Thompson was the official starter. The marathon formed part of the WIC series and not since 1985 had Britain had such a glut of skating talent compete on its shores. Even Britain’s last World Champion from 1969, John Folley, put his skates on and completed a lap. In 1998 Fry repeated his coup. This time the marathon was to be held at Battersea Park, London, and the pool of talent was even greater. It also saw the first ever running of a 100 metres knockout – won by New Zealand sprint legend Kalon Dobbin. Again, sponsored by Raymond Weil, Mr. Weil and his wife made a personal appearance and presented the awards. The event was also filmed and broadcast by satellite tv. Heady days indeed for inline skating in Britain.
And so, here we are, some 20 years later. Not since that marathon in London has there been a major international event in Great Britain. Granted, every year Londonskaters put on a great event with the London Inline Marathon (LIM), but gone are the champions and stars of the sport. The WIC is no more and skaters have started to look to elsewhere to satisfy their life goals and ambitions. Many have turned to ice and some have even had success. Parra (USA), Hedrick (USA), Sanfratello (Italy), all have Olympic gold medals in their collection. But despite this, all is not lost as many skaters still come back to inlines for the big events. In 2019 Great Britain will host another major international event. It might not boast the stars of today such as Swings (Belgium), Michael (New Zealand) or Lollobrigida (Italy) but is likely to attract the stars of yesterday. The European Masters Marathon Championships are coming to London. Our very own Sutton Atkins was a winner of this very event 10 years ago now, and who knows, he may well decide to have a go and become the first British skater since Ashley Harlow and Lisa Smith to take a European gold medal on home soil. Very soon we will find out.