By Sarah Pyo, Photographer
Through countless falls, scarring wounds and a torn ACL, Arlington senior Ryan Richbourg sacrifices his time and money to share his passion with others.
Almost every weekend, Richbourg travels to participate in downhill longboarding races. He enjoys these events and wanted to share it with others by continuing The Gnarathon tradition, where students race through Cameron Park on their boards.
In 2013, Richbourg took on the planning and funding responsibilities for the Waco Longboard Club’s annual Gnarathon races.
“I wasn’t planning on taking over Gnarathon,” Richbourg said, “but after everyone in the club graduated, I noticed no one was talking about it.”
In December of the same year, Richbourg tore his ACL in a race held in Albuquerque, N.M. He underwent surgery and couldn’t skate for eight months, but that didn’t stop him.
“I’m always aware of the possibility of getting hurt, but I wouldn’t stop because it’s too dangerous,” Richbourg said. “When you start longboarding, you have to accept the no pain no gain idea.”
The Gnarathon is a competitive race that is held at Cameron Park in between Lover’s Lane and Emmon’s Cliff every year. Riders and spectators from neighboring cities and states come to participate in these events making Gnarathon the largest downhill longboarding event in Texas.
Richbourg organized Gnarathon 4 in 2014, but in May he hosted his biggest event, the Gnarathon 5. Close to 150 riders registered to race and just as many spectators travelled to participate.
“It takes a lot of work to organize a legal event and it’s pretty rare that it happens to skaters,” Richbourg said.
Due to his success with Gnarathon 5, Richbourg was able to host the first Gnarathon Freeride, a preparatory event for Gnarathon 6 on Sunday at Cameron Park.
The Freeride was created to give riders a chance to enjoy downhill longboarding without competition. Jacob Woolsey, a local DJ played music throughout the day and participants of the event were able to buy raffle tickets for a chance to win skate gear. Sponsors of the event, such as Landyachtz Longboards, BEAR Trucks and Hawgs Wheels donated the items given away. Other sponsors of the event include Gnarly’s Skate Shop and Deux Tone.
Organizing the Gnarathon events is a multi-step process. In order for Richbourg to create a safe environment and minimalize injuries for the racers, he purchases an activity permit, insurance and hay bales, which lines the sides of the course.
“We’ve had at least one person get seriously injured every year,” Richbourg said. “People get hurt because they ride outside of their limits. Gnarathon is pretty gnarly. It kind of lives up to its name.”
Despite the dangers of this sport, longboarding is a passion to many and the Gnarathon events are significant for the riders just as much as it is for Richbourg. It brings together riders and creates one big family.
Chris Southerland, 30, traveled from Temple and did not know Richbourg before the event.
“It’s a longboard event. I’m a longboarder. I belong,” Southerland said.
Although longboarding takes up the majority of Ryan’s life, he doesn’t let it consume it. He is involved in an internship with Donor Relations, a Baylor campus internship program. He is also a sponsor team writer for Gnarly’s Skate Shop, involved in Club Tennis, a member of Delta Sigma Pi and the president of Bears on Boards, a longboard club he co-founded with senior Kelechi Fletcher.
“He’s really determined even though he has a lot on his plate,” said Frisco sophmore Alessia Cousineau, the secretary for Bears on Boards. “And he’s inspiring.”