Ready. Set. Stroll. When 7,000 contestants charging carriages hit the streets of New York City (NYC) this year at the 2016 NYC Stroll-a-thon, a few nordic names may find a new race niche that has nothing to do with snow. Especially if the U.S. Ski Team’s Kikkan Randall and Norway’s Marit Bjørgen steer a stroller the same way they ski.
After side-stepping the 2015/2016 World Cup season, Bjørgen and Randall will release nine months of curbed competitive edge at the debut marathon event — presented by the New York Road Runners organization — which promises competitors 26.2 miles of the steepest inclines and most tactical turns in stroller racing.
Open only to parents who can cover the course with their child in a carriage (*see more detailed rules and regulations below) the NYC Stroll-a-thon is scheduled to take place May 2, 2016 — though Randall admits her April due date will be cutting it close.
“I’m as strong as I’ve ever been,” Randall said in a phone interview.
“My main concern is switching to the spring training cycle, which for me includes a 50-percent increase in stroller hours and a sizable volume jump for Bean,” she explained, confirming recent rumors that she and husband Jeff Ellis have made the decision to name their child ‘El Bean’ — Bean for short — a decision primed by one of Randall’s sponsors, L.L. Bean, which offered to pay for the child’s college education if Randall and Ellis could find a way to christen the child after the company.
With a three-month head start of stroller steering on Randall, Bjørgen will no doubt prove a force to be reckoned with at this year’s NYC Stroll-a-thon.
But Bjørgen is not the only nordic skier who is well practiced in the art of carving the streets with their child and carriage.
Norwegian nordic superstar, Øystein Pettersen, better known as “The Sausage,” has also confirmed his entry in the event. He and his son, who was born this July 2015, have spent much of this winter ski season meditating their moves for the marathon course.
“It will be tough challenge, for sure” Pettersen wrote on Twitter. “But baby boy and I are ready to bring the burn.”
Also competing in the event is French biathlete Marie Dorin Habert, coming off two individual gold medals at 2016 IBU World Championships, and the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Development Coach, BethAnn Chamberlain.
Selecting the Right Stroller
The NYC Stroll-a-thon, which follows the same a point-to-point course for the NYC running marathon, tests racer’s stamina and steering skills, making savvy stroller selection critical for participants looking to win.
Bjørgen will sport the lightweight Kolcraft Cloud 2015 stroller, which features an adjustable canopy, shock absorbing front swivel wheels, and foam padded handles. Weighing in at only 11.4 pounds and earning an average rating of 4.3 stars, this model remains one of the best hill climbers in the industry.
However, the Cloud’s strongest selling point is also its weakness. Without much weight in the front, the Cloud makes wieldy turns, which heightens the chance of blowing a crucial course curve.
Yet, Bjørgen finds herself more well-suited for technical steering, preferring to gamble with race technique tactics than lost time on an incline.
Randall will run Bjørgen’s rival carriage, the BOB Sport Utility Stroller. The fixed front wheel and treaded tires necessitate more aggressive driving, but Randall prefers the stroller stability and top of the line suspension system for Bean.
Pettersen on the other hand will opt for the industry’s heaviest hitter, the ŠKODA stroller, an ATV-style stroller designed by a Czech automotive company. At two meters tall with complete high suspension and brake systems, it’s no surprise Pettersen will choose ŠKODA.
*Rules, Regulations and Registration:
A few of the most unique rules that apply to the 2016 NYC Stroll-a-thon are summarized below.
- Children must be legitimate: competitors may not enter carriages carrying children that are not their own.
- Contestant’s child must be in good health upon crossing the finish line; vitals will be checked.
- Weight added to the stroller in order to enhance downhill speed is not permitted.
To register or learn more about the 2016 NYC Stroll-a-thon, click here