Longboarding and skateboarding competition challenges competitors at Boulware Springs Park

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Miami Ultraskate record-holder Neena Beena hosted a longboard and skateboard event Sunday at the Boulware Springs Park trailhead with “awesome prizes,” competitors said.

The free seventh annual Briefcase Push Race challenged riders in a 10K race and 2-mile race on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, and a dizzy race, freestyle competition and best trick competition in the trailhead parking lot.

Beena, 26, said 2021 was the first year she eliminated the competition registration fee as one less barrier to participation.

“Even if people are just here randomly, then they think, ‘Oh, there’s no fee,’ and can [participate],” she said.

Over 30 people attended the Briefcase Push from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Most of the event’s 21 competitors participated in multiple of its competitions throughout the afternoon, which were not formally timed.

As a University of Florida alumna, Beena said her goal with the event is to continue to grow it into something more inclusive.

“There were no longboard events going on in Gainesville, so I thought, ‘Someone’s got to do it.’”

Justin and Sean Cournoyer finish the Briefcase Push 10K. (Kemper Reback/WUFT News)

Several hundred dollars worth of merchandise and gift cards were donated by Landyachtz, Hogwash, Loaded, FreeRide Surf and Skate Shop, Orangatang, Kardiya Yoga and others to award the event’s podium finishers and raffle winners.

The top three finishers from the 10K race, 2-mile race and freestyle competition were each awarded a Landyachtz briefcase containing prizes and $10 to $20 of the event’s raffle ticket sales, which were $1 per ticket.

The winner of the best trick competition was awarded $20 along with the winner of the dizzy race, a short parking lot race after competitors spun 10 times around their vertical longboards or skateboards.

Beena said she is a team rider for Landyachtz and has been a team rider for FreeRide for about 10 years. She said many of the companies who donated the event prizes have sponsored the Briefcase Push every year.

Beena has raced the Homestead-Miami Speedway 24-hour Ultraskate three times, setting a personal record in 2017 of 210 miles. She holds the Miami Ultraskate course record for females aged 19 to 29.

The endurance race is the only Ultraskate event of its kind in the U.S.

On Feb. 10-11, Beena will compete in a four-person relay team in the Miami Ultraskate. She said her goal is to sustain over 12 mph for her portion.

Mark Harris, 25, won the Briefcase Push 10K and 2-mile race and skated numerous miles throughout the trail on Sunday before, during and after the competitions. He will compete in the Miami Ultraskate on Beena’s team.

“I’ve done [the Miami Ultraskate] eight times,” Harris said.

“I always get really excited and burn out. Last year I got two hours of sleep during it, and I made it to 156 miles.”

The Inverness resident said a major part of his skateboarding journey is his four knee surgeries after shattering one of his knees riding down a big, rough hill in Clermont.

“They repaved the road right after my accident.”

Harris said his love for the sport keeps him going despite having to take care of his knee constantly.

Harris was one of several Briefcase Push competitors who drove over an hour to attend the race.

New riders Justin Cournoyer, 31, and his son Sean Cournoyer, 12, said they drove from Tampa Sunday morning to compete in the 10K and 2-mile races for their first-ever competition.

“We were up at 7 a.m. to come to this event,” Justin Cournoyer said.

“My son and I started riding skateboards and longboards just eight months ago.

“The way he pushes himself in the sport makes me want to push harder, too.”

Sean won a Loaded Coyote skateboard deck in the event’s seven-item raffle, which he said he has wanted to buy for about a year because his riding partner in Tampa has the same board type and color. He said he plans to set up the board as soon as possible.

Austin Stella, another first-time Briefcase Push participant, also won a skateboard in the raffle: a Landyachtz Chief Night Switchblade 40.

Stella, 20, said his endurance background helped him to finish the Briefcase Push 10K in fifth place, and the 2-mile in fourth place.

“Winning the board makes up for getting fourth.”

Stella said he grew up skateboarding, but he ran competitively from when he was a boy until his third semester on the Seminole State College men’s cross-country and track and field teams. He said he switched back to skateboarding when he transferred to UF this fall to study landscape architecture.

“On Thursday I came out [to the trail] and did 20 miles in preparation for this race.”

Stella said the event location is perfect because there are not many other places you can ride without having to deal with cars.

Erin Lee, 31, said she has never been on a skateboard successfully before.

“I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone a little bit more here,” she said.

Lee said her sister introduced her to Beena, whose good energy influenced her to help organize the Briefcase Push with Beena for the first time this year.

Beena said updates for the next event will be posted on her Facebook page, and she plans to hold the competition around the same date in 2023.

“I’m planning to practice all year so I can come back next winter and compete in at least one of these things at the event,” Lee said.

Mark Harris takes the lead after Neena Beena started the Briefcase Push 10K on Sunday. (Kemper Reback/WUFT News)

About Kemper Reback

Kemper is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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