BAXTER -- The Brainerd lakes area should prepare for an invasion.
It's not from guys in knickers trying in vain to hit a little white ball or anglers looking to drown a few minnows.
Inline skaters will be the culprits as they take part in the first Brainerd Dispatch Online Inline Half Marathon, which begins 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
The 13.1-mile race will start and finish at the Baxter water tower on Highway 210 West. The race will be divided into pro-advanced and fitness-recreation divisions. Age groups begin at 13-15, 16-19 and go up by 5-year increments after that. An awards ceremony will follow the event.
Safety equipment will be a must for all racers as helmets and wrist guards are mandatory while elbow and knee guards are highly recommended.
Race director Terry Holm said the race will go off rain or shine and will be on time.
"There's no ifs, ands or buts about it, we'll have the race no matter what," he said.
Holm said there will be three starts to the race with three minutes separating each. The first start will be for pro-advanced men, followed by the pro-advanced women. The event will wrap up with fitness-recreation racers.
As far as keeping track of times, you won't find judges standing around with stopwatches. Instead, the event will have a high-tech edge to it. Each racer will have a computer chip attached to their ankle or skate. A mat at the finish line, as each racer skates over the mat, will automatically record their times in a computer.
With more than 200 participants signed up for Saturday's race, Holm is hopeful the event will take off and that numbers will boom one day to between 350-400 racers.
"I don't want to get my hopes up too high," Holm said about this year's race. "It all depends on how good of a job I do with the race. We'll get through this year and look to continue to build the numbers. I'm very optimistic with the response we've had."
Holm expects a competitive race as some of the top inline racers in the state will be competing. One of those is 41-year- old Jeff Terwilliger, the top Minnesota inline racer.
"Jeff still has young legs and can still sprint," said Holm. "There's also a group coming out of Chicago that is very good and there will be some other young guys that will have a chance to do very well."
Holm said the Online Inline race will be used as training for bigger races like the North Shore Inline Marathon in Duluth or the Big Granite race in Ashland, Wis.
"The race Saturday is really just a stepping stone to the bigger races," Holm said.
For spectators, Holm says they can expect to see something unique as well as entertaining.
"It's pack-style skating, which is exciting to watch," said Holm. "The course is very flat, there's no screaming down hills, but there'll be lots of turns.
"People will be able to experience something new and something different that they probably haven't seen before. It will be fun."
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