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Le Mans 2010 build up

Steve Davidson


Regular readers of this site might remember that last year I wrote an article about the skaters that tackle the 24 Roller of Le Mans as either a solo competitor or in a team of two. (If you haven’t read it, it can be found here; duos-and-solos)

George Puttner, one of the featured skaters in that article, finished by saying that he expected to be back in 2010, most likely as part of a two man team, but that he hadn’t ruled out a solo attempt.

As I write this there are less than two weeks to go until this year’s edition of the race and whilst some are just gearing up for the race, George is just about ending his preparation. I had a few questions to ask about what had been happening since last year.

Q: When we last talked about Le Mans, you were a bit depressed with yourself for not finishing. How long did it take to get over that?

A: Two to three weeks. I had to face up to having given up in the race and this was a tough experience. I thought it over and considered what lessons I could take from the experience and then tried to move on. Friends also encouraged me to not be too harsh on myself. Meanwhile I tried to console myself that at least I had not been ruled out of sport indefinitely as my French race partner Cyrille had been.

Q: At that point you were also favouring another duo attempt, what changed your mind?

A: Ghizlane (my coach) and Hans Brown (2nd in 2006 Solo) both felt I physically should have been well able to finish the 2009 race in solo style for the last 10 hours. I figured that if in their opinion I had nearly reached the required solo stamina then surely I had it in me. Secondly, to have a real victory I had to beat the 2009 ‘failure’ with a thing greater and bigger than the Duo. I had a hole to fill. By the end of July I had told some close friends of my decision to do the solo in 2010.

Q: Tell me about your preparation. Has it differed from what you did for the duo attempts?

A: The training preparations and actual program structure were very similar, started in early January. My coach carefully guided me through the process for the 3rd time! But this year I gave more – I made more room in my life to accommodate all the sessions, invested in better equipment, improved my technique, spent more time with the LondonSkaters  Speed Team, adjusted my diet further and put more energy into my training sessions. A lot of sacrifice has been made and a lot of energy has been invested. Finally I had to battle with some injury problems and skate-boot problems – but got through it all – and lost 7 kilos of bodyweight in the process and now feel strong and ready.

Q: Whilst this is a solo attempt in that only you will be on the track, you’ll obviously have a support crew. Tell me about them and the roles that they will fulfilling during the race.

A: Erica Lobry and Reinfrid Vergeiner are looking after me during the race full-time, both are active skaters themselves and are close friends. Both have already pitted for me during the duo races in 2008 and 2009. Their objectives are to keep my two pairs of skates in mint condition, massage me and keep me clean during the breaks, provide updates on the race rankings, prepare all food and drinks, support me mentally and keep me talking and sane. Cyrille, his girl-friend and his family are providing transport, accommodation and emotional support! I could not do this race without these people (nor without my coach!) – so I thank them in advance! Also this year there have been numerous people on the London scene as well as many Facebook friends who have been very supportive during my preparations – thanks loads!

My strategy entails breaking the 24 hours into 8 shifts – with each shift consisting of a 2.5 hour skate followed by a 30min rest. My target is to average 15 consecutive laps per shift and thus clock up just over that magic 500 kilometer mark.

I just like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the race and you know that you can rely on the help and support of any of the UK skaters if you need it.

Thanks Steve! And I look forward to seeing you on the track!

I’ll be following George’s progress throughout the race along with that of the other UK teams and will be twittering (BigSteev) updates using a #24rollers hash tag.




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