Longboarders race on Centennial Trail

ARLINGTON — They came from as far away as Calgary, Alberta, for the first-of-its kind race on the Centennial Trail.

It was a half marathon race, but not one of fleet feet alone. Racers were on longboards, using a mixture of short and long strides to propel them though the trail’s bends and along its steady inclines to complete the 13.1-mile course.

Matt and Julie Thompson of Spanaway were standing near the finish line Sunday morning, waiting for their 18-year-old son, Eric Thompson, to complete the race. “It’s his passion,” his mom said.

Her son had a video camera taped to his gray helmet to record his trek along the trail. He said he plans to post the video on YouTube.

Jackie Rutherford, 24, of Arlington, was waiting with a cell phone in hand to video record her boyfriend, Nick Serrano, 25, of Lake Stevens, as he crossed the finish line.

“Good job, baby!” she shouted as he came into view. His time of 54:12 ranked sixth overall in the race of 41 participants.

Longboards are named descriptively, a longer version of skateboards, and designed for speed. Top racers can reach speeds of 17 to 20 mph, said Jason Clack, co-owner of Seattle’s Motion Boardshop and one of the event’s sponsors.

Sunday’s half marathon, called a push race, was the largest held to date in Washington, he said.

The Snohomish County Sports Commission, part of the county’s tourism bureau, worked with the city of Arlington to bring the race to Centennial Trail.

“It’s a focus for us is to find new and unique sporting events,” said Rich Huebner, a manager with the sports commission.

Some of the youngest participants were Dylan Monk, 13, participating in his first race, and Richard Lee, 13, both of Carnation.

Lee said the shorter races held Saturday night through the streets of Arlington, “wasn’t as intense a push.”

On Sunday, he placed second in the 13-and-under category with a time of 73:09. Lee said he used both legs to propel himself along the trail during Sunday’s race. “My calves are tired,” he said.

His mother, LaShae Lee, said that she and her son plan to come back next year and stay overnight nearby.

“We had so much fun last night,” she said of watching the shorter races along downtown streets. “It’s so family friendly. I was really impressed.”

Over the past five years, the sport has become an increasingly popular activity for young teens, Clack said.

“They’re picking up their board and skating to their friend’s house,” he said. “They’re not sitting in front of the video games.”

The winner of Sunday’s race was Paul Kent, 31, with a time of 48:56. His reputation as a top competitive longboarder preceded him on his trip from his hometown of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

Kent, wearing bright orange reflective sunglasses, looked every bit the celebratory victor as he stood atop a picnic table, posing in group pictures, during an awards ceremony.

The course wasn’t technically difficult, but the bridges along the trail slowed the pace, he said.

“I had to use different techniques on the ups and downs” of the trail, he said. “I really had to push up the trail so I could keep gaining on those guys.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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