By: Kelsey Janser
Transportation comes in all shapes and sizes, but a seemingly effortless way to glide along the sidewalks in style is via longboard. Longboarding started in 1959 in Hawaii and has appeared to become exponentially popular over time amongst people of all ages. I was fortunate enough to interview Miami event promoter Jonathan Strauss about UltraSkate, a spectacular skating event he and local Miami longboarder Andrew Andras put together that took place on January 7th and 8th at the Miami Speedway.
At the start of the interview, Strauss exclaimed that it was “an awesome day for boarding, barely a cloud in the sky.” He later added that if weather conditions became less perfect, however, “it’s just another challenge the skaters would have to face. This event is taking place rain or shine. The only way we would pause is if a thunderstorm occurred.” The timers of the 24-hour long event would be momentarily paused and the skaters would wait for the storm to pass. For the time being, though, the skies looked clear and rain-free.
When asked about his involvement in longboarding, Strauss declared that he had “always been part of the skating scene” but broke into the longboarding scene within the last few years and ended up creating the International Distance Skateboard Association (IDSA). The IDSA provides the standard regulations for distance competitions and functions, such as UltraSkate.
The overall concept of a longboarding timed distance competition has existed for years, but this is the first time it has really been developed with the whole community in mind. Strauss loves the idea of longboarding because everyone can participate: “We have skaters from all over the world, as well as people of all ages. We have a kid that just turned 7 today and he is going to try and skate 80 miles by the end of the 24-hour time frame.” Strauss and Andras invested roughly a year of planning before everything fell into place. They reached out to the Miami Speedway but felt it was a long shot. “We contacted six or seven other venues, some way out in the everglades, but we weren’t really getting anywhere.” By fate, persistence, and maybe even a dash of luck, Strauss came into contact with a former professor and through him was eventually able to secure a date at the Miami Speedway. They also received several great sponsors, such as Vitaminwater, Red Bull, Muscle Milk, and local BBQ restaurant Shorty’s.
Everything was a success. Strauss and Andras not only received a lot of support and participation from the community, but Andras ended up becoming the new record holder for the furthest distance longboarded in 24 hours. He broke the former record by more than ten miles, and skated a total distance of 261.8 miles.
Whether you are up for breaking a world record, such as the skaters at UltraSkate, or simply wish to cruise along the coast, Strauss encourages people to try longboarding. “Extreme sports are always hard,” comments Strauss, “all we want is to have people skate.” Visit their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/events/340826882677725/ for more information, pictures, and videos of UltraSkate 2013.