The Central Lakes Trail may be known for all the biking that gets done on it, but this week it’ll be taken over by skateboards. The first-ever Skate Central Lakes Endurance Festival starts today at 5 a.m. with participants taking off from Fergus Falls to St. Cloud for a 118-mile race. The race takes place over three days and 200 miles and is sanctioned by the International Distance Skateboarding Association (IDSA).
The race is organized by distance skateboarder Calleigh Little who is best known for skateboarding across the country in 2017 from Bend, Oregon to Boston. She’s the No. 1 female distance skateboarder in the world. The race is sponsored by Bernick’s and Union Pizza and Brewery, which will also be hosting the podium and celebration after the race on Sunday with live music, catered food and beer. Little also received help getting the race off the ground from Visit Fergus Falls, Visit St. Cloud and Explore Alexandria.
“I rode my bike from North Dakota to Atlanta, Georgia in May of 2018 and I took (the Central Lakes) Trail,” said Little. “When I finished the trail, I turned around and said, ‘Man that was an unreal experience, I have to get all my skateboard friends out here.’”
The first day of the race is 118 miles from Fergus Falls to St. Cloud, where racers will spend the night. The second day starts at 8 a.m. in Osakis and is 55 miles back to Fergus Falls. The final day of the race is a 26.2-mile marathon with no aid stations along the route. It starts at 11 a.m. in Delagoon Park and is the best place to catch a glimpse of the racers as they set out on their final sprint. Racers have five hours to complete this last stretch and the race ends after all participants are accounted for. In order to complete the race on time, racers must maintain a 7.8 mph pace, “Which isn’t fast at all,” says Little, “some of our fastest guys keep 12-13 mph paces for that kind of distance.”
Although there are other long-distance skateboarding races like 24 Hour Ultra Skate at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and another Ultra Skate event in the Netherlands, this is the first-of-its-kind event taking place over three days with three different races where one winner is chosen based on the fastest times over the three days.
Participants are required to have a helmet, a 2 liter or more hydration pack and a skateboard that meets IDSA standards. The skateboards used for these events aren’t the kind of skateboards that you would typically bring to a skatepark, which requires frequent kick pushing for movement. Instead, it’s a specialized long-distance longboard on which a rider can generate momentum by swaying their body back and forth and shifting their weight, called “pumping.”
Recommended gear outside of what’s required includes a headlamp, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses and gels, electrolytes and endurance fuel. There are 25 participants with four or five racers local to Minnesota, along with people from the Netherlands, Brazil, Germany and all over the U.S.
Registration for the event is closed, but people are encouraged to come support racers at Delagoon Park on Sunday.