Holly Ward recently completed a 100km inline skating race for the first time. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Speed demon conquers 100km

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Holly Ward’s legs are, more often than not, sporting some pretty gnarly cuts and grazes.

The 16-year-old inline skater has broken bones and smashed her teeth after taking a number of hard falls at high speed.

However, Holly rolls with the punches she takes in a sport where pain is inevitable.

“I used to be afraid of crashing, but you have to go for it and if it happens, it happens. There is nothing you can do about it.”

The diminutive speed demon says the slightest mistake, even by another skater, can result in carnage as skin meets gravel with only one winner.

“You do get the really bad ones, but you get used to having the little ones.”

Holly’s tenacity was recently on full display as she completed a marathon skate of 100km at Timaru’s Levels Raceway.

This was no casual Sunday skate in the park, with competitors averaging speeds of 34kmh.

The Nayland College student was the only female who hadn’t dropped out before the 50km mark, leaving her with the choice of skating alone or trying to keep pace with the men.

“I chose to keep with the males because skating alone is not fun for that distance, and it was quite windy as well.”

With her previous longest skate being 42km, Holly says she almost hit a wall after 60km.

“I still had 40 to go, I was only halfway, and my feet were really sore.”

However, fuelled by Powerade and lollies from her back pocket, Holly refused to give in.

“I just kept pushing through it. I told myself ‘if you drop off, you’re not going to finish and there is no point in coming all this way not to finish’. I got to 80km and I felt a lot better.”

After more than three and a half hours of non-stop skating, Holly had reached her Everest.

“It was so good to cross the finish and think ‘I just did 100km.’”

Besides some seriously swollen and blistered feet, Holly was ecstatic to have completed the marathon effort.

She has no plans to skate that distance again anytime soon but may return next year to defend her title.

The 100km had long been a goal of Holly’s.

She started skating at eight-years-old when she saw another young girl zipping around the Tāhunanui Skating Rink.

“She looked really fast and I thought that was cool. Her dad gave me a flyer and from there it was all go.”

Under the tutelage of Alan and Anna Bartlett, Holly has since gone on to represent New Zealand at competitions in Australia and Indonesia and now has her sights set on Junior Worlds in Columbia next year.

She says her ultimate dream is to see her sport one day gain entry to Olympics.

“I love going fast and it’s just a fun sport, it’s different, most people don’t know what it is.”