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Rolling Through Time: A rough history and definition of Ultraskating

Updated: Mar 28




‘Ultraskate’, a term and endeavour known by few outside of the aficionados of long-distance longboarding/skateboarding, and roller skating. But Ultraskating has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. 


What is an ultraskate?


Ultraskating is an extreme form of long-distance skateboarding and roller skating where participants aim to cover as much ground as possible within a set time frame, often 24 hours. It’s a gruelling marathon on wheels, challenging athletes to push beyond their physical and mental limits, go beyond their comfort zones and achieve new personal bests, often in a communal atmosphere that celebrates the joy of movement and the spirit of perseverance. 


It’s a sporting endeavour that combines speed and agility, tests endurance, and requires strategy, sheer willpower, and the love of skating in its various forms. 


A brief history of ‘Ultraskate’.


The origins of ultra skating can arguably be traced back to the mid-1800s when roller skating first captured the public’s imagination following James Leonard Plimpton invention of the four-wheeled roller skate, or quad skate in 1863. 

How you may ask? Well the answer is simple, firstly, wherever we as a species find the opportunity, we seek to find ways to make things competitive, and secondly, with the advancements of technology and evolution of equipment, we find new ways to use these innovations to perpetuate our pursuit to push the boundaries of what is ‘humanly’ possible. 

The birth of the quad-skate, alongside various questionable precursors of skateboarding, such as the Kne-Koster (1925), and Skeeter Skater (1945), along with the long history, heritage and culture of skateboarding in California from the 1950s to the rise of longboarding in the 1970s, the ‘global’ growth in popularity of skateboarding and roller skating throughout the 1980s, and the new found growth in popularity of skateboarding since the sports debut into the Olympics (Tokyo 2020/21), conceivably all paved the evolution of modern longboarding, skateboarding, skating (in-line & quad), and the multitude of associated disciplines.


However, whilst it is imaginable that ultraskates have inevitably occurred throughout the past century, ultraskates as we know them today are a fairly new endeavour within the realm of longboarding.

The world's first (recorded) longboard/skateboard-specific ultraskate ‘event’ took place in May of 2007, with James Peters world record attempt. Furthermore, based on information sourced from the Pavedwave forum, before this Ultra, only three other 24-hour skateboard attempts are known of, one as part of an inline skate event by Romain Bessiere of France, and the other two (Greece-1983 and France-1978) still requiring verification. 

But it wasn’t until 2010 with Jo Coles’ notable charity for Haiti, dubbed “Skaiti”, that we saw the first organised multi-rider 24-hour ultraskate event, alongside multiple separate world record attempts globally. In 2012, we saw the arrival of the now highly prestigious Miami Homestead Ultraskate. The following year, the Dutch Ultraskate (the now equally acclaimed bucket list ultraskate event must). And finally, the UK Ultraskate in 2023.   


Since the early formative years of the first (24hrs) ultraskates, longboarders have pushed the boundaries of what's achievable, and pushed through into the fringes of the unimaginable, from the once fabled 150 miles to the mind-bending 300+ miles, with examples like Joe Mazzone’s world record of 313.9 miles (505.1km) (2021 - USA), and Saskia Tromp women's record of 262.28 miles (422.1km) (2017 - Netherlands). [For a complete list of records, visit Skate IDSA]


With the growth of distance longboarding, the need for the officialisation of the sporthas grown. Official national and international sporting associations such as Skate IDSA and World Skate play a vital role in regulating the sport, ensuring fair competition, alongside the development, management and promotion (alongside maintaining records).

Skate IDSA (International Distance Skateboarding Association), founded in 2012, is the official international sporting body / association for Distance Skateboarding, whose mission is to promote skateboard racing & competition in all its forms (LDP/Distance, Garage, and Skateboard Supercross [SBSX]). ‘Sanctioning’ and regulating the sport ensures events are compliant with changing requirements, and participants get a safe and fair experience.   

   

Finally, it is important to note in this brief overview of ultraskate history that without its community, and the extremely dedicated few, these events wouldn’t happen. Organising an ultraskate is a logistical nightmare, enormous financial undertaking, and takes countless hours of work. 


Conclusion.


Ultraskates have evolved in the past decades into larger organised 24-hour events, where professional timing systems and accuracy are synonymous to the event, where participants cover vast distances on longboards and roller skates; and continue to break records and push the boundaries, and records are kept by official national or international sporting associations.


The history of ultra skating is a fascinating journey from the cobblestone streets of the 19th century to the smooth asphalt of modern skate parks. It’s a story of innovation, community, and the enduring appeal of skating as a form of both recreation and competition. From the humble beginnings of a quad skate, to the simple desires of surfers wishing to be able to surf on land, ultraskating has arisen from the diverse evolution of the two sports, their many counterpart disciplines, and our innate human desire to explore and push the boundaries of what is possible. 


As ultra skating continues to grow, it attracts skaters who seek to test their endurance and enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded athletes of this community/family has to offer. The sport has come a long way from its early days, and its history is a testament to the human desire to push boundaries and explore the limits of what’s possible on four wheels.


ULTRASKATES 2024:


Ultraskates worldwide anticipated for 2024: 

1 - Miami Homestead Ultraskate 2024 - (15-16th February 2024)

2 - UK Ultraskate 2024 - (13-14th July 2024)


‘1/4' 24 hour Ultraskates - (6 Hours): 

1 - The 1/4 UltraSkate 2024 - Singapore - (25th May 2024)

2 - The Dutch 1/4 UltraSkate 2024 - Netherlands - (TBC).


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