Alyssa Monteiro is the 2015 Fiesta Island Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon Champion! Alyssa’s win was not easy, as she defeated reigning champion Lexi Hutchings who was favored for the 2015 race. Alyssa is from Chicago, Illinios and this was her 2nd Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon. She has been travelling to quite a few skate events, skating a Bustin Maestro. Her efforts have definitely paid off. Alyssa’s name will be forever etched into the Adrenalina trophy and will be remembered as the fastest women’s skater in San Diego for the year 2015. The following is an in-depth interview with Alyssa to learn a bit about who she is and why she loves distance skateboarding.
Photo Credit: Brad Miller
How did you get into Distance Skateboarding?
When I first moved to Chicago from New York about 5.5 years ago, one of my friends out here had a longboard and I fell in love with it the first time I tried it. I got my own board shortly after that and used it to commute for about 3 years until Dallas Yanez introduced me to push racing. I’d say that right after my first Chicago Push Race is when I really got into distance skating.
How many distance skate events have you completed? What distances?
I’ve honestly lost track. I know i’ve competed in every local Chicago event since 2013 and we usually have about 3 per year. Those usually average around 7-8 miles each, except the scavenger hunt which can reach up to 20 miles if you’re particularly ambitious. Aside from that my major competitions include Adrenalina, UltraSkate, Chief Ladiga, Push in the Woods, and the Arlington Centennial Skate Festival. Adrenalina is a full 26.2 mile marathon, UltraSkate you have 24 hours to skate as many miles as you possibly can so I just did 100 miles last year since that was my goal, Chief Ladiga is 188 miles in 3 days, Push in the Woods is a 5k and a 10k back to back, and the Centennial is a 1 mile, a 5k, and a half marathon over the course of 2 days.
What was your first longboard? What did you ride at Adrenalina Marathon?
Hahaha like all good young grasshoppers, my first board was a Sector 9. I decided shortly after that I wanted a more compact Cruiser so I got a Santa Cruz 40th anniversary re-release of some kind. It was very lightweight and very lords of dogtown style. I named her Chelsea and she was my baby for a good 2 years. I completed my first season of local races on her and rode her until she was warped so badly that only two wheels could touch the ground at a time. At Adrenalina this year I rode a Bustin Maestro Bamboo that my bestie Drew Maslowski was generous enough to gift me for my birthday.
Who do you train with?
Since day one of my LDP career i’ve trained almost exclusively with Joe Mazzone. He’s my partner in crime through all these competitions and I could not ask for a better training partner. He sees my full potential often before I even do and will always push me to work harder until I reach it. I was also incredibly lucky to meet Drew Maslowski this past summer and we definitely always have a good time training together. His speed was on par with mine when we first met but he has since overtaken me in that department and is always killing it on the distance. Adrenalina this year was his first event but he took 9th overall, he’s already progressing at an incredible rate in the sport.
What does your local community think about your distance skate habit?
My local community pretty much just includes my coworkers, my gym buddies, and a select few precious angels from the Chicago skate community. They are all incredibly supportive, I am really lucky to have such beautiful people in my life. They’re always cheering me on from back home and are always eager to hear about my trips every time I return. I’m pretty sure that for about 90% of the races I competed in this season, I woke up to an encouraging text from at least 2 people the morning of each race. This year I felt especially supported by my locals and was even lucky enough to score a mini-sponsorship from one of my regular customers at work who runs Windy City Carwash. His sponsorship of me does not directly benefit his business so he only invested in me because he believes in my potential as an athlete in this sport. To say I am grateful for them is truly an understatement.
Joe Mazzone. Hahaha maybe I’m biased but my answer will always be Joe Mazzone as the top competitor in this sport. No one else I’ve met so far in this field truly wants the wins as badly as he does and is willing to commit to the training to earn the wins. He is the definition of a professional athlete in field of LDP. Aside from Joe, top placers this season included of course Andy Andras for distance worldwide as always, Kiefer Dixon holding down the New York City push scene, and Colby Cummings in the Pacific Northwest push scene.
Who is your top competitor? What is your competitor’s strength and weakness?
Although I wouldn’t say that I have direct competition with anyone in this scene, I will say that the one person whose records I would like to break this season is Cami Best. I have so much respect for her as an athlete and especially as a fellow female athlete in this scene. Her course records are truly inspiring, so this year I am hoping to break them in hopes of giving other females more motivation to get out there and raise the bar for the next generation of LDP push racers. Her strengths would definitely include living and training in NYC, I know that the overall pace of Chicago definitely gives me something to work towards in my personal training, even just in my daily commutes, so I can imagine how beneficial the extra hustle of New York is in her training. Her only weakness would have to be the bike accident she suffered some years ago when she was struck by a cop car, completely damaging her hip and leg. I don’t think she’s been as active in LDP since. She still beat me at Broadway Bomb this year though! I think the locals always have the upper hand in that race. Other competitive goals for me include being able to keep up with the entire Don’t Trip team. They are athletes to the core and it would be an honor to be able to place with them someday at an event. They definitely have the advantage of knowing how to effectively pump on their boards and that is very much still a work in progress for me.
Do you prefer flat courses or do you enjoy elevation changes during a distance skate?
I am probably just a product of having learned to skate in the Midwest but I am so married to flat-land push. I’ve messed around with skating on the west coast in much hillier terrain but honestly I don’t love it nearly as much as midwest skating or even NYC skating. I’d prefer to battle traffic in NYC than battle hills in San Diego or Seattle. For now at least…
So I never learned to skate switch early in the game and at this point I think it is too late for me to learn since the muscles in my legs have each developed to serve their specific purposes. Also, since i’m still not proficient in pumping, I am currently limited to just tucking to decrease my headwind in between pushing when my muscles get tired.
Why did you choose to fly to San Diego to skate the Adrenalina marathon?
In 2014 Joe and I both decided to fly out to San Diego for the Adrenalina Marathon because we were dominating the Midwest scene and we wanted to see how we would place among the top racers in the country. We figured Adrenalina was the perfect platform to start testing those waters. By the time Adrenalina 2015 came around this year, we were already hooked so it really wasn’t an option. I think it’s safe to say that we are both pretty pleased with our performances this past year, but I know for sure that we are both looking to improve even more. I for one, could not be any prouder of Joe. He is truly a beast. I’m excited to see what this season brings.
What would you say to someone who is interested in marathon skating, but might be afraid to try?
I would say that it never hurts to try anything just once. It’s not nearly as intimidating as it looks. Ideally they’ll fall absolutely in love with it and will pursue future events in LDP racing.
What was your finishing time in the 26 mile marathon? What is your best time? Favorite course?
This year at Adrenalina I believe that I set the new course record for females… I completed the course in 1 hour and 57 minutes and I believe the previous record was 1:59. Pablo has yet to confirm. This is currently my best time on this course but I’m hoping to cut it down even further next year. Of any course i’ve raced so far I actually think i’d have to say that Chief Ladiga is my favorite. At first I didn’t think that 188 miles of southern nature would be the most ideal scenery to keep me occupied for the entirety of the three days ahead of me but i’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
Topmount or drop through longboard?
I started off my push career on a top mount and have since switched to a drop through setup. Ironically enough though, there is a very good chance that I will switch back to top mount once I become more proficient in pumping and on hilly terrain.
What is your goal for 2016?
My top goal for 2016 is to set the female course records for all 3 days of Chief Ladiga as well as any other major events that I am able to attend. But mostly Chief Ladiga. Ultimately I hope to create a greater hype for females in this sport, I would love for female attendance at these events to rival the attendance of males at these events. I know that there are so many girls out there who are inherently great in this sport and just don’t know it yet, so I am constantly working to create a welcoming atmosphere for them in LDP. Spread the stoke 🙂
How could distance skate events improve?
Honestly, I really enjoy the professionalism of IDSA (International Distance Skate Association) events. They really know how to throw a legitimate race and having a legitimate race environment really helps you to take yourself seriously as an athlete in such an under-appreciated sport. However, at the same time, I absolutely enjoy the adrenaline rush of a good old fashioned outlaw race, especially in busier cities. The biggest frustration in any race is not being recognized for the hard work you put in so disorganized races can be frustrating in that sense. Its for the same reason that unequal prize purses for males vs. females gets to be incredibly frustrating but I understand that we need more females in this sport before there is enough incentive for organizers to provide equal funds for both sexes.
What is the future of distance skateboarding events? Do you anticipate travelling internationally?
LDP is definitely a rapidly growing sport. I know that there is already an UltraSkate in Amsterdam as well as New Zealand. As much as I would love to make it out to one of those, I don’t see that happening for me for another couple years.
How important is sportsmanship in distance skateboarding?
Sportsmanship. Is. Everything. If you think winning means anything without respecting the effort of those you race with, you are sorely mistaken. Winning loses its meaning pretty quickly when you’re celebrating your victories by yourself.
My absolute favorite sportsmanship that I have seen so far in LDP between two individuals began between Joe Mazzone and Colby Cummings for the entirety of our stay in the Pacific Northwest. It was our first time competing in Colby’s region and he is definitely used to being top dog at all the local races out there. So it would be logical to assume that there would be some slight animosity towards Joe from Colby for him just coming out of nowhere and dominating his region; but this was not the case at all. Not only did they show a complete mutual respect each other as athletes, but after the very first race they immediately bonded over all of the skate style/habits that they share. They were immediately swapping advice on different tricks and techniques that they use in their personal training and it was just so beautiful to see. Other examples of excellent sportsmanship are easily found among the entire Don’t Trip team. The Frank brothers (Max and Will), Eric Palmer, Harrison Tucker, and Kyle Yan are always happy to swap training advice and they are always incredibly generous with their crazy healthy smoothies. Claudia Chase is a beast in the distance department and is incredibly encouraging to any other females out there who are interested in doing distance as well. She set the female record at UltraSkate last year, being the first female to break 200 miles, and the entire time she kept encouraging me to go further. Being the first female to break that record wasn’t as important to her as encouraging other females to try to do the same. That, to me, speaks volumes of her sportsmanship as an athlete. As far as poor sportsmanship goes, I can really only think of one poor sport, and if you’ve paid attention to Adrenalina for the past 2 years you probably already know who it is…. I’m not entirely sure how to describe him in PG terms, but just know that he is currently one of the least respected individuals involved with the LDP community. Which, incidentally, I’ve found to be one of the most genuinely accepting communities of all time. Most of us in LDP understand that this sport is still very much so in its beginning stages and therefore is not incredibly lucrative as of yet. As of right now if you are committed to this sport, it had better be due to purely intrinsic motivation or you will be sorely disappointed. Those who want to be placed on a pedestal and worshipped as a god for every win they take, are in this for the wrong reasons. Our wins do not count nearly as much as the standards that we set for the generations after us who will inherit the sport once we have surpassed our prime. This is why we push.