WORDS Greg Noble PHOTOS The Lone Star Lensmen
When it comes to Texas there is a plethora of the following: humidity, guns, pickup trucks, oil wells, honky tonks, bbq joints, Mexican restaurants, churches, and downhill skateboard races. When it comes to races there is no other like the annual Gnarathon in Waco. This staple of the Texas downhill longboarding scene, now in its 6th year, has only gotten bigger with age and has grown from a small outlaw race to a full blown legal event. As the name implies, Gnarathon is gnarly both in its style, and in its cost, which is often paid in blood. Gnarathon gets its name from its founding sponsor and huge scene supporter Waco’s own Gnarly’s Skateshop, owned by Blake Yowell. Every year a story grows from the event, whether its the infamous pass which David Angelus made on the inside-corner rain-gutter, to take the win in Gnarathon 4, or this year’s controversial contact-induced wipeout just feet from the finish. Gnarathon has become synonymous with a battlefield as past grudges are settled there & new ones are often established, and this year was no exception. There are very few races in Texas that are must-attend in order to solidify your reputation as a legitimate force in the racing community here. The big 3 in Texas are the NoBull Bayou Battle in Houston, The Labor Day Race at The Patriot in Austin, and of course Gnarathon.
It is rare to have a race in any scene be consistent in its growth and staying power and its attendance—let alone have a history beyond a few years. Gnarathon, based in Waco, Texas; has been able to grow and continue growing for the past 6 years due to the guidance and leadership of Ryan Richbourg with Radbourg Ventures & Team NoBull. Ryan has been a consistent force of stoke in the downhill community whether it be his involvement in the Waco Longboarding Club, which founded the race in 2011, or his involvement with Team NoBull. As the event has grown in credibility and stoke so has its sponsorship support and its depth of competitive talent.
This year’s event was expanded in its format to a two-day event with the first day, Saturday, being a freeride on the downhill course followed by a skatepark session with the main race on Sunday. The Gnarathon course is a sketchy serpentine funnel through the wooded Cameron Park with a classic crash corner, a chunder pavement start line, with the first turn being pothole laden flowing into the butter pavement stretch dotted with razorblade-like lane dividers down the entire middle of the course, ending into a sharp right-hander finish where having the best line is all the difference. Texas embraces sketchy, whether that is the quality of its race roads, the DNA of some of its riders, or the style of its garage racing.
The best part of the scene in Texas is its inclusivity and its openness to newcomers. If you ever want to see how clear & bright the future of downhill skateboarding is all you simply need to do is visit a Texas event and see all of the groms & women that compete. The action & controversy was most definitely real this year and centered on the open division. As the race progressed, it seemed that the temperature got hotter and every heat had some sort of wrinkle to it that got the crowds buzzing and the rider’s passions flaring. Gnarathon this year seemed to embrace the adage “if it ain’t rubbing it ain’t racing” and the opinionated postrace shrapnel is still flingin’ far and wide on the social networking sites. What we do know is no matter who did what and to whom, whether intentional or not, it will all be settled next year at Gnarathon 7!
The race was ran at a fast & furious pace due to the heat-bracket savant skills of Nick Taylor. The open final was one for the ages and had a repeat champion in Waco’s own Gnarathon boss Nicholas Hopper. The 2016 NoBull Bayou Battle champion Kacey Moon won the women’s final. The phenom Alex Ferguson won the grom division, and Silas White won the Masters.
1st. Nicholas Lincoln Hopper
2nd. Jargh Hammons
3rd. Kristopher Coxy
1st. Alex Feruson
2nd. Dylan Webb
3rd. Garrett Grossman
1st. Kacey Moon
2nd. Freya Jardine
3rd. Candy Dungan
1st. Silas White
2nd. Kasper Heinrici
3rd. Jay Lonesome Woods
Thank you’s from Gnarathon organizer Ryan Richbourg:
First shoutout definitely goes to my rockstar volunteers. My uncle and parents, Blake Yowell, Greg Noble, Nick Taylor, and many, many more. They were the heart of Gnarathon 6! Huge thanks to many of the partners I have had the pleasure of working with, including The IDSA, Waco Parks and Recreation, McLennan Country Sherriff’s Office, Baylor University Medical Service Organization, Baylor Delta Sigma Pi, Jay Cronin, Andy Anzollitto, Wes Coleman, and Steven Sanchez. And finally cheers to all of the spectators, photographers, filmers, and racers! Gnarathon exists because of the community around it, and I’m glad we all get to come together as a skate family and spread the stoke.
Also, this event could not have been a success without the support of the sponsors:
Gnarlys Skate Shop, Bears on Boards, Landyachtz Longboards, Insanity Boardshop, SpeedDoctor BearingCo, Carve Skate Shop ATX, BOARDLife- Austin theGrindLab.com, Team Nobull Longboarders, Dave’s Hippy Oil, MuirSkate.com, Moonshine MFG, Sheshreds.co, Sector 9 Skateboards, Rider Approved Designs, Gullwing Truck Co. Grip, Graphique, Original Skateboards, KHIRO Skateboard Products, Loaded Boards, Orangatang Wheels, Bombsquad Longboarding, Waco Disc Golf Association, Push Culture, Randal Truck Co., Bones Bearings, Arbor Skateboards, Paris Truck Co., Drang Boards, Madrid Skateboards, Venom Bushings, Cadillac Wheels, Pantheon Longboards, Longboard Larry, and Seismic Skate.