On a typical day, we can notice some skateboarders dashing their rides from one block to another while thrusting one of their legs on the ground pushing their boards far away. We can say they can’t push more than a hundred times of it in a single journey due to various reasons including the lack of continuous space for their hobby and the risk of having muscular problems due to repetitive hard movements of their body.
The Official Record
image source: 14degrees.org
It all started on June 24, 2007, when a New Zealander man named Robert Thomson started to push his board from the United States’ Florida up to California and flew across the Atlantic to Leysin, Switzerland up until he arrived at Shanghai, China on September 24, 2008. The official distance? An astounding 12,159 kilometers or 7,555 miles! If you can’t imagine how long is distance, you can check your map and compare it with the distance of New Zealand to Mozambique of the Southern African Region or a bit higher longer of 1/3 of the World’s Equator.
This Guinness World Record remains undefeated to this day and continues to fascinate and inspire other skateboarders around the world due to the story and inspiration it brings to the people, especially the resilience of the Rob Thomson to face all challenges that he had been through during his epic journey from both ends of the United States heading to the Alps traversing the European continent leading to the Pacific city of Shanghai.
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Who is Rob Thomson?
image source: hokkaidowilds.org
Robert Thomson is a citizen of the Kiwi tribe from Christchurch, New Zealand. He is an Arts Graduate from the Canterbury University, the second oldest university in New Zealand and migrated to Japan in 2003 and worked for the government until he landed on Asia Pacific University.
He developed his passion for doing things that will get him out of his comfort zone and started created historic trips through a bike, longboard, and a yacht. He currently resides in Japan and finishes his Graduate Studies.
With his recumbent bicycle, he traveled across Japan in 2006 and biked across the vast lands of China, heading to Switzerland. From Switzerland, his journey of a long skateboarding ride began.
His epic journey lasted for 462 days of memorable moments to every city he has passed through. The highlights of this experience include his daily journal posted on his website, as well as his shared pictures and the unassisted nature of his entire voyage to the three continents of the world.
Robert has faced several serious problems during the entire trip. On its early stage in the United States, he struggled to do the skateboarding on the roads where sidewalks are nowhere to be seen and used. He pushed to do skateboarding side by side with the cars and trucks passing by.
A near-death experience in Texas
In an interview with the National, Radio Rob mentioned his close encounter with death in Texas where a fast-moving truck almost hit him. Luckily, this guy has avoided the truck and left him breathless because of the close call. His distance with death? Only 10 to 20 centimeters. This has left him thinking on the rest of that day, leaving his mind in the thought of what will happen if he might have exceeded the distance and the house-carrying truck hit him.
Other skateboarding journey were well-funded by different groups that voice out their advocacies to gain attention to the public. Contrary to this condition, Rob has decided to make his journey limited to self-sufficiency. He has managed to create resources on his own and for his travel.
Due to his cyclical movements with skateboarding, he suffered muscular problems, especially with his knee and legs as the ride requires tremendous footwork. There were times when he has to take some repetitive breaks because of painful knee problems due to the said foot and leg work. Despite this pressing concern, Robert managed to surpass the problem and keep on moving slowly until he reached the finish line.
Skateboards are indeed favorable in roads where smoothness glows like a calm lake with a wonderful sunset. However, on the entirety of his trip, Robert has to do skateboarding on the rough roads as these are the effective routes to achieve his success in skateboarding. What’s worse is that there are a lot of rough roads in China which are not advisable to any bicycles and board vehicles due to the harsh conditions that they have to suffer just crossing the said thoroughfare.
In the United States alone, Robert has to traverse hundreds of uphill roads just to meet both ends of his journey. Crossing Florida to California is a long way to go and for you to achieve it, you have to cross several states, each packed with beautiful sceneries yet challenging road with tricky elevations requiring you to work completely or else, face the failure of capping your journey unprecedentedly.
If this problem happened in the US alone, the worse things happened in Europe where Robert endured the hilly slopes of Alpine mountains of Switzerland, up to some mountainous regions of the Eurasian border, passing a bit in the Middle East and traversing near to Tibet.
The End Goal
Robert has successfully slashed his problems with a resounding success on his journey. He might have struggled in some points of his travel but in the end, it’s the winning moment that caps it off.
In his wonderful journey, we are reminded of how we should conquer our problems and how to deal with the shortcomings in our lives. His success is not only limited to him, but to all of the poor villages that he has discovered especially in the Middle East and China where he could have learned a lot of learnings and insights from the unheard people of the world.
The trails where he has been unfolded new things for him and the entire world. On his website, Robert shared his day-to-day journals of the lives he has met and touched and how did they appreciate him in return. How some village people helped him to repair his skateboard, as well as his moments of eating with the children and talking with the elders.
True enough that Robert’s Journey is not only filled with the concept of beating the distance, but of knowing the peoples, unlocking new achievements, facing challenges, overcoming problems, and getting away from your coziest comfort zones.