By Cleo Coney Jr.
I got the call from Barry Tilmann of the Tilmann Foundation to join him on a trip to south Florida to cover the Iron Pineapple. He told me that one of his team riders was hosting this annual event.
This was going to be great because I had just finished a story on the growth of Team Pain skate parks on the west coast of Florida, and now I'd get a fresh story on the east coast of Florida all in one day.
Traveling across the thickest part of the state quickly reminds you of the big difference between the coastal cities with beach life, and the open pastures filled with cattle and orange groves in the heartland of Florida. During the trip we saw deer, wild turkeys, and plenty of great bass and pan fish producing canals and ponds. My Verizon Droid's GPS application kept us on the quickest path to Fort Pierce and it seemed like we arrived just as most of the sign up had been completed.
As I made my rounds to the different clusters of skaters one thing quickly became clear, they were all freezing cold! It was still early in the day and you have to remember two things, Florida is seldom cold and this is one of the coldest weeks we've had this year. Temperatures were in the low forties overnight and it was only in the fifties when we arrived. Not a cloud in the sky and the wind was whipping up the chill that we Florida types seldom embrace.
All around skateboarders were doing their best to stay warm by pushing around the parking lot, and some were doing power slides to keep their muscles active in this briskness that enveloped us all. While this was going on an energetic Barry Tilmann gathered skaters to together to view a proposed trail for a huge push event to be held later this year. Thumbs up and positive feed back continued to expand Barry's already stretched smile.
I took noticed of what brands of decks, wheels, and trucks were all present and I'd have to say that Bustin Boards dominated this large group of skaters.
Bustin really has made an impressive push in south Florida. There were skaters on Rayne, Dreggs, Loaded, Sector 9, Landyachtz and other lesser known companies decks, but again Bustin had the most feet on boards. Word got out that the U-HAUL vehicle would be arriving shortly to carry this large group of skaters to the trail in several group pick ups.
First load of skaters.
I made my way out of the park and down the road to the trail via Barry's Mustang that featured one of the loudest exhausts in a car I've ever ridden in. You wouldn't expect Barry to be a muscle car type on looks alone, but he likes that gas pedal for sure.
Another skate crew getting ready to roll.
The races this day would consist of a three and an eleven mile run. Skaters were trucked to the starting line of the three mile and then would skate back to home base to complete this leg. An hour later they would start the eleven mile run from home base and then return to the start to complete the eleven mile run.
I've participated in many vertical skateboarding contests with three runs, or a jam session, but this is very different. This is skater verses the elements plus the other skaters. "What kind of shape are you in?", I began to ask myself as if I were ready to join these longboarders. This was going to be tough because the they would all skate into the wind on the return leg! I figured I better get ready for the returning skaters by drinking one of the bottled waters myself.
The men's division and the ladies division would be run simultaneously and timed individually upon their crossing the finish line. The crowd was huge for a day like this with so much to do in Florida. Longboarding seemed to bring more families out together than I'm used to seeing in other forms of skateboarding competitions. The energy was pumping, and the excitement to see ninety nine percent of the skaters finish the race they entered was demonstrated by the clapping and cheers heard from the families that attended and the skaters that had already finished. I'm stoked!
The most impressive thing I witnessed during this race was that the men's winner in the three mile race, was also the winner in the eleven mile race! Juan Molina of Califlorida skateboards kicked butt! The next most impressive thing I witnessed was the placing of Robert Erisman who's only been longboarding for two years. He finished second and third respectively in both races, and he's not sponsored by any company at all. Here's the chance for a company to step up and get their foot print in Florida Longboarding and grab this skater.
The Iron Pineapple Run was a great deal of fun and I look forward to the next Florida Longboarding event!
Coping Block Skateboarding Magazine