Monday, March 26, 2012

The Most Dangerous Race

By Cassie Michelotti

          “Everyone line up--don’t go until we say so!”
          Jordan Lytton-Smith led the way through the crowd; this was her first year attending “The Broadway Bomb,” an annual longboard race straight down Broadway in New York City. “I’ve never skated 8 miles in my entire life,” she said, turning to her friend Jess. Her heart was racing, but the time for nerves and self-doubt was over.
          Over 1,000 longboarders took off at a sprint from Riverside Park up 116th Street towards Broadway at noon on Saturday, October 8. Once on Broadway it was too crowded to even put your board down; some attempted, but most took off running or got caught in the traffic jam. Jordan and Jess were caught in the jam, but jumped on their boards as soon as there was an open piece of pavement.
          When 1,000 longboarders try to start skating on one road all at the same time, there are bound to be accidents.  Some chose to hop the divider and skate against traffic. On the other side, people were stepping on each other’s boards and wheels, running into each other, and running each other over.
          Jordan was watching people go down left and right. The next moment changed everything.
          “He was swerving in and out of everyone and cut off the person in front of me. When the person in front of me flew, I just remember skidding on the cement. I bounced up and found my board a while behind me,” said Jordan.
          Jess saw the whole thing; she skated over to see the extent of Jordan’s injuries.“My hand and elbow were bleeding. It didn’t hurt much, just tingling. But the race was a lot more important than some scratches,” said Jordan.
          Adrenaline took over; she was still only on her first mile. People were lined up on the sidewalks watching as hundreds of skaters passed by; many questioned the racers. “Are you protesting? Is this part of Occupy Wall Street? Why are you doing this?” Other cheered and gave the racers high fives as they passed by.
          “I was high fiving people with the bloody hand,” Jordan recalled. Later she would come to find that she had broken her wrist and would have to spend the next six months in a cast. But she was caught up in the moment, and unwilling to leave a friendly stranger hanging.
          The race stopped traffic as skaters blew through red lights, some hitting unlucky pedestrians, or slamming into cars, buses, or taxis. “I saw a racer hit the side of a car, their board got caught under the back wheel and snapped,” said Jordan.
          She passed Central Park, went through Times Square dodging pedestrians, and avoided the police and barricades when passing the actual Occupy Wall Street protestors at Zuccotti Park. She finally arrived at the Wall Street Bull statue, the official ending point of the race.
          Jordan and Jess went into the nearby pharmacy to tend to Jordan’s wounds. But she considers herself lucky. A few scratches and a broken wrist are minor injuries in New York City’s most dangerous push race.

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