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The $10,000 Man: Jeff Vyain

Sets a new World Record and raises the Skateboard Marathon bar!

By Jeff Vyain
I
nterviewer: James Peters
11/6/2010

The first ever Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon took place this past weekend in Hallandale Beach, Florida, and the grand prize of $10,000 was awarded to me for coming in first with a time of 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 58 seconds. This set a new “World Record” for the skateboard marathon. I put that in quotes because I’m not convinced yet. Maybe that’s just a result of me not believing I’m that good. I still fall once every few days, I still battle with injury too often, and I sort of feel like not everyone came fully prepared for this marathon. I know I have better in me, and I also know there is better in others out there. Paul Kent, Matt Elver, Theseus Williams, and John Doe...I’m talking to you :)

To me, this is just the beginning. I have been an athlete all my life and ran competitively through college. Plagued by consistent overuse injuries, I quit running my last year and found a similar outlet in longboarding. I loved it because it still allowed me to push myself beyond my perceived limits, and I found it gave me more of an adrenaline rush than running ever had. I enjoy skating fast, and I love pushing my body at the same time. Pushing and pumping a longboard has become second nature to me, and now that I’m living in NYC, I have been able to turn it into more of a lifestyle, using it both as a source of everyday fun and as transportation.

In NYC, we skate hard. We keep up with traffic. And with a community this size filled with a bunch of aggressive dudes trying to make it in the big city, we also race. Adrenalina was the first opportunity to skate competitively on a platform this size, and I feel lucky to be on the forefront of such an awesome extension of this sport.

I am still working out how I feel about all this. As an employee at the Longboard Loft aka Bustin Boards Headquarters, I've been involved in Bustin's “push culture” phenomenon. Mike Dallas, partial owner of the company I work for, coined that phrase in a conversation when asked about what it was about Bustin that differentiated itself from its competitors. Since we put "push culture" on media, stickers and the like, we’ve caught some flack from our very own longboarding community over the term, mostly concerns that it's too mainstream. Longboarding has traditionally been a fringe sport, and I have a feeling some of the dudes out there who’ve been doing it for a long time still wish they could be the only ones. Everybody wants to feel special, and I’m no different. What I think some of those sliders, downhillers, and generally badass shredder dudes are forgetting is that it’s actually fun to ride a longboard, just about any way you slice it, and that's really all this is about. Different strokes for different folks.

I’ve spent some time trying to skate really fast down hills, and I’ve spent some time learning to slide and even got pretty good at standups, but most of those things, I need to limit to some degree, because I am constantly hurting myself doing them! So instead, usually, I push and pump my board around NYC somewhere between 10 and 20 miles per hour, and that has done a really good job so far of keeping a smile on my face.

JP- What were your goals or expectations going into this race?

I wanted to be in the money, but I really didn't know what to expect from everyone, and I didn't feel like I was in as good of shape as I would've liked to have been, so I would say that I had the goal of making the podium but really no expectations.

JP- What kind of training did you do? Anything other than skateboarding?

Basically, my training consists of skating to and from work and then just using my skateboard for just about every other commute I make, and then, when I'm lucky, I go on group skates with my boys in NYC. There's always someone to skate with. I just don't necessarily always have the time to be out there. I tend to stay up pretty late, but when I do get some sleep, sometimes you can find me pushing and pumping up and down the West Side Highway bike path.

I haven't been doing much besides skateboarding, but I do enjoy yoga when I get the chance. I should definitely do it more, but I have been lax with it since I broke my shoulder this summer. For a long time, there, I couldn't put any weight on it so that really restricted me. I definitely plan on getting back into it now that I'm starting to feel healthy again, and now that there's a pretty awesome outlet for me to continue traveling and doing this, I should probably step my game up and do some other cross-training. I've got some running exercises I'll probably get back into. Still, I feel like skating fast all the time is the best way to skate fast in a race.

JP- Do you change the way you eat/drink before something like this?

I really didn't change a thing. I don't eat a ton of meat, but I do sometimes, so I ate some meat on Thursday before the race and then I think I mostly abstained on Friday, but I really didn't think about it much. I definitely will hydrate more before the race next time. I skated quite a bit on Friday between getting over to the race site from our hostel, skating the course, and then skating back, and that left me a little dehydrated. I tried to make up for it early in the morning, but definitely didn't get enough, as I was battling cramps in the middle of the race. I took all day Thursday off driving from NYC to FL. I don't know how all that affected me. I'll have to experiment more as I continue to race.

JP- Yeah, I saw you road tripped from NYC with a pretty big crew-- what was the energy like, and how did you guys all meet up? That must have been a blast.

I was in a mini van with 5 other New Yorkers that left at 2am on Thursday morning and arrived at about 1am on Friday morning. Andrei Hippix, Victor Epifaneo, Maribeth McHugh, Kiefer Dixon, me, and Luke Ayata, who was there videotaping for Push Culture News. The full size work van we planned on taking had overheating troubles and we ended up having to rent at the very last minute, so we got a pretty late start. Spirits were very high, even while we were standing around trying to line up another ride, and everybody was excited for the race. Luke and I split the driving, as the eldest (and wisest) skaters in the van.We pretty much drove straight there and only stopped to stretch our legs and switch drivers, because we wanted to get there and be able to check out the course and get ample rest before the race.

There were so many good moments the entire trip. It'd have to be another article, but a highlight was definitely stopping in an IHOP in Hollywood, FL, and having this guy make us a Bustin symbol out of Balloons. And the skate stop we made in Maribeth's hometown in Pennsylvania. Kiefer took a really funny spill, and Luke almost died and I was just glad we all came out of it alive. People do stupid things when they've been cooped up in a van for 20 hours.

JP- Many skaters seem surprised about your winning this on a top-mount skateboard. Are you confident this is the right setup, or do you think you'll get a faster time on a lower board in a future event?

No, I'm not 100% sure at all. I am completely open to change, but over 26 miles, I knew it was going to be important that I have a good time, so I chose to go with the LDP because I have the most fun on it. I hadn't noticed that I was feeling any faster or slower on a taller or lower board. I seem to have more top speed on the lower decks, but I'm not sure that I get any more or less tired over time. It really feels nice to get down low and stretch out the kick on the tall board, and it doesn't hurt to be able to resort to pumping when my heart rate is jumping or when I just want to put a smile on my face.

JP- What was the course like? Were there any sketchy moments with other racers or the terrain itself?

The course was really nice and smooth in some parts and a little rocky in others. For the most part, pretty decent road conditions, but the small loop had some obstacles with some puddles and dirt/dust, and there were quite a few turns and some killer wind toward the end of the race. It didn't feel like a slow course, but it didn't feel like it was the course for me to skate the fastest marathon that will ever be skated. I definitely have faster in me in the future.

I came off my board once in the beginning. I didn't start on the front line, so I was forced to fiddle with a bit of the craziness at the start. It was a lot of fun. A guy came off his board nearby me and it ended up locking up wheels with mine. I jumped off my board and as I was running it off I saw my board was rolling next to me, so I jumped back on and kept going. Hardly lost a step! Other than that, I had a few moments when I somewhat lost my balance, especially later on as I was fatiguing, but I always recovered from the little mistakes. I also was battling some serious calf cramping for a couple laps, but I was able to stretch it and then relieve that leg by pushing with the other. Luckily, there were a lot of fluids on the course to help me get through that.

JP- How did you feel mentally and physically, at the finish?

Mentally, I think I was a little mixed up! I was pretty in-the-zone for such a long time, and then I realized I was about to win 10 grand in a longboard race, and I had to sort of tell myself that yes, this was actually happening and try to just keep my cool and stay on the board until the race was over. I was definitely a bit overwhelmed there for a minute.

Physically, I was feeling pretty strong. I was definitely fatigued. My muscles were breaking down but I sort of hit this plateau where I could keep a solid pace and not feel like I was going into oxygen debt, so as long as I had calories to burn, I felt like I could probably keep going. That last lap, especially, got the adrenalina pumping, and I felt like I could sprint if I wanted to, but I had a pretty substantial lead and I figured it'd be way easier and way more awesome to just go fast and controlled and then pump my way toward the finish and show everybody what was up.

JP- What are you going to do with all your winnings? Will it corrupt you like a child actor?

I don't think they're going to last long. Turns out the tax man wants quite a bit of it. Then my plan for quite a few years now has been that if I ever lucked into a substantial lump sum of money, I'd spend it on Lasik surgery. I want to be able to travel, camp, open my eyes under water--all that good stuff--without worrying about contacts or glasses. My eyes are crap.

After that, I was hoping to be able to give my Dad some money I owe him for taking care of some college bills. For a minute there, Sallie Mae didn't like me, and he helped me get her off my back. I will have to win a couple more races to fully take care of that, but hey, if all I gotta do is win a couple skateboard races to pay off my college, this life is pretty awesome.

JP- Well that sounds responsible! I understand you work in the skateboard industry as well, is that a part time job?

I am officially working full-time now as the manager of the Bustin Boards storefront, Longboard Loft, in Williamsburg, BK. My man Paul still takes it upon himself to tell me what to do a lot of the time, but I do get the responsibility of telling management all the product we need in the store, and they do a pretty awesome job of taking my word for it, so I'm basically a kid in a candy shop.

I have a position in the shop with the privilege of being allowed to be completely objective, so I get to see all this product that other awesome board companies are making and then tell management what we need to do to make our product better. We're in the process of releasing the Maestro Mini right now, and I've got to tell you, it passes my test for everything I would use it for. It's a super fast, super light deck with just enough footspace to pass the board around between feet and have complete turning control on one leg from the front or back of the board. It's everything I would want in a push deck for now, though I'm looking forward to the day when we can mass produce some carbon fiber/fiberglass models to make them even lighter.

So yea, life at the Bustin shop is absolutely awesome. All the stuff I've learned at Pavedwave is not going to waste. Nothing makes me happier than to have someone ask me for help with bushings. You should see the look on people's faces when they come back and can't believe how much sweeter their board rides for under 20 bucks. Most skaters don't know much about how to tweak their setups, and between the readership we have developed on the Bustin Blog and my interactions with local and visiting skaters at the shop, I get to help a lot of people, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction.


I'll sign off by saying:

I just want to Thank you James, Adrenalina, and everybody that helped to make this a possibility for me. I never thought I would have this kind of opportunity. I feel so lucky to be at the start of such an awesome evolution in our sport! I really hope it continues. If dudes are out there racing bikes, cars, and even on their own two feet, they might as well be having a lot more fun and doing it on a longboard.

...and there you have it.

I interviewed Jeff a few days after the Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon, while he was still taking in the fact he'd just mopped up on the World's first ever fully sanctioned marathon event for skateboarding, putting himself firmly in the history books as the fastest guy on the planet.

The course had been carefully mapped out well in advance and double-GPS'd by myself, and a well established chip-based timing system was used for all racers, so Jeff's record is definitely solid enough to withstand the rigors of something like the "Guinness World Record" books. There were 125 skaters racing and a huge crowd out there witnessing all the action that day. The focus seemed to be not on breaking records, but on raw street skateboarding and having one hell of a great time. Huge success on all accounts.

Thanks Jeff for sharing the stoke and giving us a view from the head of the pack!

 

 

 

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