Looking Forward from the Chief Ladiga Silver Comet Challenge
There is no way I can fully encompass all that was Chief Ladiga in a single blog post, so what I will try to do here is just give you my perspective and what I took from it, and paint a picture of what’s to come.
First, results can be found on the homepage of Pavedwave.org.
The race was brutal. Weather was very hot, 90-plus degrees on the last day over 94 miles. About the same on day 2 and a little cooler the first day but not much. Twenty racers began the first day. The turnout was pretty good for the first race of its kind–an intimidating 188 mile race over 3 days. I heard talk of a lot of NYC racers going down for this race, but in the end, there were only 5 Yankees up for the challenge. Those racers were Luke Ayata, Maribeth McHugh, Cami Best, Josh Rosenthal, and myself (Jeff Vyain). Maribeth, Cami, me, and our friend and videographer, Ale drove down to Georgia on Thursday. Luke and Jenica Davenport of Push Culture Apparel/News drove separately. Thanks to Bustin Boards/Longboard Loft for the car and gas and Chadd and Georgia Hall of Fireball wheels for a comfortable place to stay on Thursday and Sunday night!
We met up with some legendary skateboard old-timers down in Georgia as well as a host of top athletes from around the continent. The top racer and winner of the event was Canadian Paul Kent. William Coale of Indianapolis, a former cross country teammate of mine, was there along with pump-master flex, James Peters of Pavedwave.org, Marion Karr, race organizer and distance skater extraordinaire among other things, and lots of other awesome skaters (check the results!).
More than anything, I had a great time. The competition was fierce. Josh Rosenthal and Billy Coale had been putting in a lot of miles over the past few months and made me worry I wasn’t going to be very competitive. I started the 1st stage pretty tentatively, telling myself there was no way I was going to lead, but it wasn’t long before Paul and I were going head to head, talking and laughing, but pushing a solid pace together. We completed 38 miles at a pace of just a minute or two off of the 1:40:58 marathon that I won $10,000 in last November. It felt good to know I was in that good of shape. I hardly even broke a sweat that day, and we even stopped for a minute at a water station, something that would never happen in a marathon race for money. Paul put some time on me during the last 4 miles of the 38. I was okay with this…I have never been a great back to back runner, and I didn’t want to blow it all on the first day. Overall, I came away from that day feeling a lot better about the upcoming money races–the Adrenalina Marathon series. Paul and I (and probably some other guys too) will most definitely be setting some new records come July.
The 2nd day was a big test for me. I took a big fall about 12 miles into the race coming down a curvy hill with way too much speed. I was ill prepared with no gloves and a setup that was meant to grip, not slide, so I ended up heading down a hill into a turn going way too fast, made it through, but immediately headed into another turn and had to bail at about 25 mph into some grass/pine needles, only to find a bunch of rocks hidden in the brush. I gashed open my butt and skated the remaining 40+ miles with a wide open sore that ended up needing several stitches to close up. The good news was that even though I thought that stitches meant I was going to be out for the last day of racing, the doctor told me that I could still skate because of where the gash was, the skin wasn’t going to flex much and wouldn’t interfere with my ability to push a skateboard very much. Luck was not on the side of race organizer Marion Karr, who suffered a similar injury but to the knee, exposing his knee cap and putting him out of the race. Further good news was that despite a bunch of time lost cleaning up my wounds in a bathroom at the first rest stop, I still managed to finish in 2nd place for the day by about 2 minutes. It was a battle, but it was a good test for me, and it was one that I passed.
Day 3 began way more chill for me. I wasn’t 100% sure I was even going to race, and once I decided I was going to do it, my only real goal that I laid in front of me was to finish the 94 miles, so I didn’t lay out some ungodly expectations for myself, but I wanted to still perform. I started with a pack of guys all riding on Subsonic skateboards, Josh Rosenthal, Billy Coale, Andrew Andras, and James Peters, who was riding a Roe Mermaid for the day. I chose to whip out the topmount prototype pumper that I’ve been working on and take the day as easy as possible. This would allow me to move my body very little yet still have a bunch of fun and hopefully cover the entire 94 miles. We all skated for a bit, and then I crossed the Alabama-Georgia border with Billy and Andrew while Josh was a few minutes ahead and James a few minutes behind. By the time we reached the hills, I knew that was the point where I could make up or lose a bunch of time to Josh, and the competitor in me took off ready to begin the chase. I was way behind, and by the time I reach Rockmart with 38 miles to go, I was still off by about 4-5 minutes, but I had heard Josh had suffered a board malfunction and was riding on someone else’s board. This made me salivate. Once I saw him and he saw me, the chase truly began. He fought me off for as long as possible, skipping water stations and gaining ground when I stopped, but eventually this all caught up to him. I believed that continuing to fuel my body was going to pay off for me in the end, and whatever the case, I passed him with maybe 15 miles to go and put 6 minutes on him in the last few miles. I finished the 94 miles of day 3 and held onto my position in the race. I felt incredible.
Paul had taken off from the beginning and finished over 45 minutes ahead of me in some ungodly time that should’ve only been doable on a bike. He finished 1st overall by about an hour. This seemed like a lot to me at first, but when I broke it down, Paul averaged 4:12 per mile over 188, and I averaged 4:34 miles. Considering all the stops, cleanups, and even a bit of harmonica playing just for posterity, I feel pretty good about it all. Conan Gay began day 3 with Paul, in 6th place and wanting to gain some time to get in the top 5. His strategy worked well for about half the race and then he began to pay for it. Billy had a stellar race. He was patient with me in the beginning of day 3. When I looked back on the hills, I left him in the dust. I couldn’t see him anywhere. By the time he finished, he had really gained a lot of ground and was only a couple seconds behind Josh. Andy stayed strong the entire race. He was using this race to train for some ridiculously crazy Iron Man type of event and played the part every day. He finished strong and looked like he could’ve gone for more. James came in a ways behind us but looked strong. He pumped most of the way and I could tell he could’ve gone quite a ways further.
One of the best stories for me, and one that will surely be talked about for a long time to come, was Maribeth and Cami. They rode all three days together with the primary concern of finishing the distance. Day 3 took over 12 hours of skating, powering through multiple falls from Maribeth and a bum knee and an asthma attack from Cami and nearly passing out in the hills section. They held hands and pulled one another when necessary and somehow completed the distance with still a bit of daylight left. All 3 days they battled and watched while other competitors dropped like flies from lack of preparation or ability and falls on the trail.
Chadd Hall and Greg Feiss both attempted day 1 only. They both finished. Greg finished in 4th on day one pretty much solely pumping. Quite an impressive feat, and one that made me a bit jealous, because he really looked like he was getting down. Chadd faired not quite so well but still has a pretty great story to tell. He was struggling with a bum achilles tendon and needed a break from his feet. Rather than calling it quits, he sat down on his longboard, took off his shoes, and began using them to paddle his way 6 miles down the road. At this point, he had sufficiently rested his feet enough to finish the remaining of the 38 mile day. Props to that guy!
Overall, wow…what an incredible experience. Every little story made this trip for me. There are more to go around for sure, but I can only write so much! I can’t wait for next year to come around, and time will tell, but I believe this will be the best pre-Adrenalina race anyone in the pushing circuit could ask for. Looking forward, 26 miles seems like a walk in the park, and I have only further proven to myself how far away from my limits I truly am. I’m sure everyone else feels the same as I do in that department. Mad props to Marion Karr for helping organize this event. He serves as an inspiration to me, and I look forward to skating with him next year. Thanks again to Chadd and Georgia Hall, who held our group and many others up on Thursday and Sunday night. And thanks to my sponsors, Bustin Boards/Longboard Loft for helping us get down there, Subsonic Skateboards, Atobe Wheels, Biltin Bearings, Surf-Rodz, GriffinSk8, and Kombucha Brooklyn for pulling me out of a cold just in time for this race! Without you all, this would not be possible! Thanks to team mom Jenica Davenport for driving me to the hospital and cleaning up my wounds in the men’s bathroom at Walmart. Thanks to Ken from Skanunu who supplied a killer RV with air conditioning that cooled us down and drove us to and from hotels. And finally, thanks to Georgia, James, Maribeth, and Jordan Evans for the sweet photos that I ripped off of your facebook pages for this blog entry!
Adrenalina Marathon is splitting a $30,000 purse between 5 men and 3 women in NYC on July 30. You better be getting your train on!