Featured Rider: Laura Hatwell


In her own words – ”best probing ever”. Read on for big freaking spiders, SkateFurther, Long Treks on Skate Decks and how she fits her 100 mile thing under her belt.

Hello Miss Hatwell where are you from?
I am from the wonderful city of Plymouth in the South West of Englandshire. It is the best place to go if you need to examine the reasons for having a consistency about a city’s architecture. Plymouth does not have this consistency, but it does have some fun places to skate.

When did you start skating?
I started skating in Spring 2006, when I heard about the Boardfree journeys that Dave Cornthwaite was undertaking. I was inspired to pick up a board myself and give it a go. So I did – I taught myself ninja-style, in secret car parks away from the prying eyes of the world. Probably best that way. I should add, I’m still learning! Always learning.

What is ninja style?
Ninja style is where a 25 year-old woman who really should know better teaches herself how to carve and go down minute ramps  fearing for her life in peace, seclusion and privacy. Thus, the world is spared the embarrassment of watching her fall, cry and berate the gods as she tries to learn something new.

What is a Boardfree journey?
Journeys! Boardfree was the brainchild of one British dude who loved to skate places and tell people about it, whilst raising money for charity. Many have spawned from this initial project, and I was very lucky to go out to Australia and be a part of a 10-person support crew. I joined in Melbourne, after quitting my job in TV to have a role on the team. It was tough, challenging and the spiders were big.

You’re a famous actress? What have you been in? Or vice versa.
Haha, hardly! I have actually been the voice of a telephone operator in a popular Scottish soap, and a child drowning in a children’s programme, and I have cracked pencils in dubbing suites to imitate broken noses! Mainly I worked behind the scenes and had fun where I could.

So the Boardfree dude is in Australia and you packed your bags and turned up on his doorstep?
The project was set up in the UK, and the first ‘trial journey’ was from John O’Groats to Land’s End (across the entire length of the UK) – I watched this with interest and did my own little journey from Glasgow to Loch Lomond in support of the same charities. I loved the project management aspect of it and my actions got me noticed by the Boardfree team. I got the invite to go to Aussie on a particularly dull day in a darkened room with screens in Glasgow and hot darn, I was outta there and into the bright Melbourne sunshine a month later.

Skating deep in the highlands for Scotland trip

You lived/skated in Scotland?
I lived in Scotland after I finished my film degree there. Managed to wangle a sweet job in TV somehow and lived under the happy illusion that my life was complete without skating. How wrong I was! Scotland is my heartland, I’ve skated the length of it in its entirety and I love the place, the people, the attitude. I don’t hide when England play Scotland anymore, I’m proud to have lived and skated there, and been a Weegie for a while.

You’re proud to have had a Wedgie?
Yes that’s right. As a Glas-wedgie-an, I couldn’t be more overcome with joy at this condition.

How was your time down under?
My time in Australia on Boardfree was pretty illuminating. We worked from 5am – 11pm every day keeping the journey rolling. You have an army of mouths to feed, hundreds of people to fundraise amongst and accommodation to find, all whilst maintaining a media and online presence. Lots to do, and I loved it.

You’re a film-maker?
I worked in post-production, so everything that happens to a tape after it comes out of the camera, that was my job. I still make little films, but on my recent trip to New Zealand, the bleddy thing broke within the first two weeks.

Were the spiders your biggest challenge you faced there?
Imagine your hand, then put it on your face. It was that close, bro.

I would but my hands are busy.
Your loss – the spidersperience is worth it. There’s only so much typing I can do to make it real for you. And also, they’d best be typing young man. Or I’ll be having WORDS.

Hang on. You skated from one end of Scotland to the other? Why?
Why not? I love Scotland and no one else had deigned to consider there might be lands north of John O’Groats, which I don’t feel is a very inspiring place to start a mammoth trek. So I took it to the Arctic baby, and busted a move up to Shetland and Orkney, and gave those hills a good seeing to. Or perhaps vice-versa, they destroyed me! And so, I continued, in my little bimbling way, all the way to Berwick.

first skateboard journey glasgow to loch lomond for charity, 2006

Wow. So in 2006 you started pushing silly distances?
Yes, I got the bug quite a while ago, hence why the condition is so advanced in me. Irreparable damage. It’s nice to see how it’s all turned out though!

Who is Arctic baby?
He is the small chilly person inside us all.

Just for the record. There is nobody in me.
I saw a bit poking out. Brr.

Oh that wasn’t an arctic baby toe, it was a carrot.
You have arctic carrots in you? I have never seen this phenomenon on my travels. My mind is blown.

That’s why you should wear your helmet, less mind blowingness.
I knew there was something I forgot!

You’re welcome.

So back to your ninja sessions, how did things progress after?
My ninja sessions became more successful once I got a skate tool, and learned what a kingpin was. Then I was able to loosen my trucks and properly carve! What a dick! However, now I could moderately skate, I had no one to skate with. Fortunately, the Boardfree team invited me down to Swansea and I learned to skate a bit more with them. After returning from Australia, I joined up with British riders on the Lush Bath-Bristol events, and from there, entered the glorious, wondrous world of Skate Further.

Bath to Bristol?
Bath to Bristol is an event supported by Lush Longboards and now organised by some of the most passionate riders out there to raise money for different charities and bring the scene together. Having grown in strength and number each year, heaps of skaters rock up and skate the 16 miles from Bath to Bristol along a beautiful stretch of cycle path. The maddest ones skate the 16 miles back as well!

That was your first time skating with other English chums?
Yes – it was lovely. Cups of tea a-go-go! That’s all I need. A nice Thermos.

Oh Swansea. Sounds like a wet place. Is there a crew out there?
Soggy in places, sandy in places, very sporty place. I liked it, but I couldn’t eat a whole one.

Some of the Skate Further Gang

What is Skate Further?
Skate Further is a collective of long distance skateboarders based all over the globe who come together to promote and support distance skateboarding. We pride ourselves on being full of interesting, thoughtful, creative souls who have the ability to answer your every question on skateboard journeys, races, and equipment, all because we’ve undeniably been there. We’re a news resource, a support network, a place where you can get solid sensible answers.

How/When did it start?
Skate Further began in those halcyon days of 2007-2008 when a few like-minded individuals got together to do a few little trips and then decided to bust it wide open with secret missions to Dorney Lake to skate for 24 hours, like our heroes in the ultraskating scene of the Pacific Northwest USA. People like Sam Benson, Ben Colchester-Hall, Tom Lewis and Nat Halliday, them sorts. The logistics team has grown to include members from France, USA, Canada and all over really! We all have had equal turns in keeping the place running but Nat and Christopher Vallender are really going to town on the site just now. Love it!

Who are the oracles who answer the questions and is there a money back guarantee?
All of the members on the Skate Further forum are able to equally put in their tuppence worth, and I’m afraid like life, there is no money back guarantee. Live it large. We’re there if you need us. Like the A-Team!

I think you’ll find there is a money back guarantee in many reputable sweetshops.
Skate Further is the finest organic foodstore selling right-on double rainbows, not these…tawdry vacuous…snacks of experiences…

By double rainbow do you mean illegitimate skittles?
I tried them ones with the funny cores the other day, tasted like washing up liquid and ashtrays.

I can’t say I’m familiar with the delights of ashtray tasting. Like the A-team, is there a Mr T?
*jingles bling* I ain’t gettin’ on no Rayne! Actually yes, I am. They’re delicious.

Ah. laura haTwell. I see iT now.

Haha Rayne. I see what you did there.

Skate further ink.

When did you join the team?
I joined, I believe, in 2008, which was a fun year for me skating wise. I’d been pestering the boys for ages, and it sort of grew from there. They had to let me in, they had no choice. I had too much dirt on them.

So distance skateboarding is your baby?
It is my one true love, that there endurance skating. I love it with all my heart. When I can, I buy it pretty things, when I can’t, I sit and dream of skating with it up mountains. When I do get to skate up mountains, it is the most joyful time in all my existence. *does double rainbow hand gesture by way of emboldening this point*

Skating up a mountain. Not something I’ve heard any sane person say.
*jingles bling*

But you have to skate down them on the other side! Do you push all the way down?
As every good endurance athlete *ahem* knows, let the gravity do the hard bit for you! I just footbrake to control the speed and maintain a safe riding position. I’m in it to stay in one piece. I’ve never been much of a downhiller, more an uphiller!

Who started Skate Further?
Men in lycra. Mad men in lycra.

No single individual?
I can’t remember the exact order, but Sam, Ben, Tom and Nat were the original team.

What happened when you finally joined in 2008?
In 2008, I had the opportunity to do my thang on a wider scale. I was riding for my longtime sponsors, Stoked Skateboards, and had got the 100-mile thing under my belt, as well as a marathon time and tons of other stuff, it was just a good time to be a lady like me. I got to help promote skating in my own way, and watch others achieve their goals.

Your thing is 100 miles long? How does it fit under your belt?
Dude, it’s really easy – you just sort of wrap it round loads, and then you can fix tons of carabiners on it, and any time Cirque du Soleil come calling, you are READY to be hoisted up! I think I have an unhealthy addiction to carabiners. Why have a carbon board when you have 20 carabiners on your shorts?

What is a carabiner?
It is a clip for clipping things to things. Super handy!

You started skating in 2006, how did you already have a longtime sponsor in 2008?
Because I pushed like stink, sir! Like stink! I trained with 6 foot men, tried my best and kept a smile on my face throughout all of the tough times it took to get my push to a high level. Like the Inuit and their exhaustive dictionary for snow, I have my own for pushes: pigeon; fawlty; curvy; power; shouty; joypush; sprint push; relaxpush; heeltoe; toeheel… I’m no scientist, but I’ve learned so much about ergonomics, engineering, aerodynamics and psychology through skateboarding.

What’s your role in SkateFurther now?
I am what you would call a sleeper cell just now. After nearly 6 years of being a fly on the wall of the kind people who have housed a roaming skate vagabond, I’m looking to get a little bit of that for myself. When I do, I will have great pride in putting every shoe I’ve ever pushed in up on a shelf and smiling at them. I have boxes of memorabilia, and I look forward, when I’m settled, to adding to them, and contributing fully to the scene again.

I’ve heard about your people on the news, apparently you leave suspicious baggage on trains, usually bags of apples.
I think you’re making that up. It’s satsumas!

Do you teach kids to skate?
I was an ice steward at the local rink for years, and I taught kids how to skate there. Now I teach grown women how to destroy each other on the roller derby track. Either way, I love combining skating and education. In longboarding, I’m always learning from skaters half my age now. I’m a huge fan of the ‘transformative experience’ and I’ve seen skating change lives. Long may it continue!

Roller derby madness

Were there many ladies like you?
At that time, I only knew of a few lady skaters. I was fortunate enough to meet the amazingly passionate Jo Coles – who took the 24 hour record after me – we live very close so it was good to know that someone else in the Westcountry had the bug. Now, I have the great pleasure of talking to ladies like Cami Best and Sara Paulshock, who have taken female distance to the place I needed to see it get to. Mad keen, in the public eye, and you can see they really love their time in the sport.

Any European ladies pushing it?
Having been away in the Antipodes and the USA for the better part of 9 months in the last year, I haven’t had a chance to check! However, I believe there are some awesome lady pushers out there all over the world now, can’t wait to meet them.

Ok you’ve been hinting all day. What are your records?
Urm, okay. I did a lot of things first, but only because I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I hope I did the right thing by that good fortune. At the risk of sounding like a twazzock:
I was the first woman to skate 100 miles in a day,
I set the first official women’s skateboard marathon time,
And, as far as I know, I am the only woman to have done a solo long distance skateboard journey.
My times are on http://pavedwave.org/ so it must be real. If there is a lady journeyer out there, I want to know because I need someone to compare stories with! Jo Coles also did a lot of amazing ultraskates around the same time and has claimed the 24 hour record in phenomenal style.

Wow. Putting the T in twazzock.
I had to make my own trophy for one marathon, that was a bit lame. The guys have had their trophy, so in the interests of equality, I got creative. I thought there would be more girls, but it was just me and one other. I tried to give it to her but she didn’t want it. So I sent it to Sara Paulshock when she took over the marathon title! It was a darts trophy from Plymouth Market that I’d cut the darts player off and put a yellow Power Ranger on instead. Lady Push!

You made your own trophy!
Well it was more for the female racers, but, yep, there were only two of us and I won. It wasn’t all thousands of dollars in prize cheques in them days – doing it for the glory and the fragile glued together wonder that was Lady Push!

I reckon the blue ranger would have been a better long distance skater. Billy was odd.
The yellow one was the chick, dude!

Are you saying only chicks can LDP. DUDE?
You know it, those little feathery freaks can push like ANIMALS.

Triceratops > Pteradactyl for long distances. Your argument is invalid.
Triceratops are my favourite dinosaur, but you ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you my Pteradactyl impression outguns the rest!

So sTaying with the Twazzock Theme. What are your besT Times?
The best times are the ones I can remember without needing to look at a clock.

Ha! Go on what’s your marathon time? I won’t tell anyone.
2 hours 20 mins. There ya go – looking at my efforts on the official times, I am 7th in the ranked females now! That means SIX more women got stoked on distance skateboarding and decided to do something about it since I started in 2006. That’s over 1 a year! I think I skated about 103 miles in 19 hours at Skaiti, and I did 550-ish miles in 18 days of skating on my month long trip in Scotland.

You’re mental!
Land ahoy!

I’m assuming 550 miles is the most you’ve done.
In one single trip as the skater, yes. I’d estimate I’ve skated a few thousand miles outwith that in my own time, and I think I have to be one of the most travelled support crew members for these journey-style events. If you tot up the miles I’ve done in a van and from my office (bedroom) in support of journeys, it totals over ten thousand miles at least – super awesome! You can see where my heart lies, it’s always with the trips. Pushing day after day, no other cares, that is my heaven.

Crying like a baby after skating the first 100 miles in 24 hours for ladies

You work from home?
I’ve been the web designer for Long Treks on Skate Decks and managed a lot of logistics for them from afar for both the Peru and Morocco trips. For Peru, I kept my computer on 24/7 and tracked the boys by GPS and took in blogs, pictures and emotional “bosom for a pillow” emails from them in remote internet outposts in order to spread the word to the world through the site!
An interesting model to follow for sure.

Hayle Yis!

Ah. Long Treks. You’re in on that too.
Just like the wonderful man who makes all the animations for the videos now, John Jelkin, I hid in the background, keeping the news flowing. It’s amazing to think that I did that with Peru from my room in Plymouth and broadcast it all to the world from there. I laugh now just remembering how many times I’ve conversed with that lovely Aaron Enevoldsen at all hours in strange places.

You’re a webdesigner as well? What can’t you do?
Design websites? I’m more of a drag and dropper, but I do what I can to help.

When did you get on the Long Treks wagon?
Long Treks was a favour to Paul Kent on the night before they left Calgary for San Francisco to start the Peru journey. It took over my life, but I couldn’t have been prouder to have an involvement. Paul, Aaron and Adam Colton have been incredibly supportive of my skating, sponsoring my own Scotland trip through Long Treks. I had the sexiest board ever!

How did you get in touch or vice versa?
Long distance skaters, we’re a close bunch who use technology to reach each other from our separate and sometimes lonely endeavours. Facespace, my friend.

What is that and how can mere mortals use it?
*I believe you need something known as The Precious. This is easily accessed by handing me your wallet and shiny things, in return for entrance to this hallowed area.

One bearing to rule them all?
…and quietly, discretely and passionately, in the darkness…ride them.

Are all long distances skaters a bit erm… different?
No more so than any other athletic type who spends much time focusing on training in seclusion away from things that the majority of the world values. We’re just a breed apart in many ways, but normal folks through and through at the same time. I think the global distance community is awesome!

Did you have to pass the honey butter ritual before you joined Long Treks?
I simply said, “Yes Paul, you did forget to build a website. Yes Paul, I will build you a website. Good luck buddy and here’s hoping you guys find Adam in Peru and join up and make history!” And that was that. I didn’t have to drink any of Paul’s magic mud shakes either.

Will we see you on a Long Treks video soon?
I doubt it, but my name is on the Peru videos which always makes me smile.

What sort of training do you do for races?
I think about them, eat the right food and go out and have a little skate to get my head in the right frame of mind. I tend to go to more informal, less prize-oriented events because I enjoy having the time to talk to people, suits my nature better. I think though, having resilience in any part of life is a vital asset, and you can only get it by pushing through those mental walls and seeing what’s on the other side.

So you started skating in 2006, got sponsored in 2007, joined SkateFurther in 2008, Long Treks in 2008?
I’ve done so many things, and had such a great time that I’ve forgotten the order – they all merge into one, but here are some of the highlights so far:

Boardfree Loch Lomond (Skater), Boardfree Australia (Support Crew), Bath-Bristol a few times, Goodwood Roller Marathon (World Record), 24 hour Dorney Ultraskate (World Record), Skaiti 24 (Personal Best), Perimeter Scotland (Solo Skater), Orsum’s JOGLE (Team Manager), Long Treks on Skate Decks (Logistics Officer and Web Brat), Atlanta Digital Push Race (Winning Team!)

I’ve probably missed out tons, but those stick out in my terrible excuse for a memory. Hopefully I’ll get to add to them this year!

What have you been up to since then.
I’ve been out in the world, seeing what gives. After teacher training, I broke my wrist skating down a hill, and it took me on this massive learning curve of a life path twist. I ended up in New Zealand, met some interesting people, and got to live with Skate Further buddy Nat Halliday and his wonderful family! I also indulged my love of roller derby there, writing part of my MEd on the sport, and returned via a distance skateboarding event heavy road trip (I love you, ATL!) in America to good ol’ Plymouth.

It’s not the end point, there is a lot more to come and I’m fully optimistic about the future. I’ve been really lucky to meet some amazing people and do some fantastical things through longboarding, and long may it continue. 2012 has a lot to offer!

Define ‘’been out in the world’’
I ended up travelling because I needed to re-prioritise after quite a lot of madness in the long distance skating part of my life. Every life needs balance, and mine was no different. After personal circumstances left me with the opportunity to go elsewhere and see new things, I took that chance. I came back home with my eyes open.

What was New Zealand like? First time there right?
New Zealand is one of those places that everyone who goes there and comes back wonders why they left New Zealand. It’s a beautiful place. Safe yet highly dangerous. I lived in Christchurch for a while too and those people there are going through it with the earthquakes but they just keep going. Awesome. I took a lot from that particular experience. Nothing like seeing the road curl up in front of you.

You must meet a lot of people in real life after talking to them loads online. Is it weird?
It is something alright! Meeting Tomo Chisnall, Kiwi distance skater, was the best one yet. He just appeared as a surprise at the house one day, I screamed like a schoolgirl!

Why did you go to America?
I love America, they get it! I dream big, and so do the Americans. I’ve used the American collegiate sporting model and its focus on careful research, preparation, organisation, branding and promotion to get distance projects seen and supported. My style of madness fits in very well in the States too, which helps.

This trip, I had a great time in Atlanta where I got to take part in a city-wide race involving taking photos of your team at various points across town. Very dubious places indeed! My board got covered in dodgy gunk and I didn’t want to touch it.

What race?
The Digital Push Race! It was a trial for a bigger event later this year, and it was great to be part of the winning team. We had a city slicker in the form of Alex Mendez on our team, it was good because he just pointed and we pushed!

Were there many girls?
My host Georgia Hall from Fireball Wheels for one! We had some wonderful relaxing pushes on the great trail network they have out there. I met with some lovely skater ladies in America – one to watch out for is Possala Wang – she’s Atlanta’s amazing little lady ball of energy! So funny! I also got to skate with Marisa Nunez and she’s lovely. She couldn’t see the point in skating up a hill, but then, I’ve never been very good at sliding down them, so that evened us out!

What is the Distance scene like there?
America’s distance scene is exciting. They’re putting a lot of ground work in to making it a success and I hope this continues in 2012 – Adrenalina really bust the whole thing wide open in 2011 and my heroes Jack Smith and James Peters are doing awesome things there to keep it legit. I would like to see bigger prizes for women and more opportunities for new skaters to get involved and widen the field. I can see workshops on pushing technique, distance skating schools, personal coaches, all that happening. Distance is getting serious airtime, let’s use this opportunity to bring it to the masses!

Yeah! What other cities did you skate?
Mainly Atlanta on this trip – the trails are just so good. I got a real feel for the idea of skating across America…ooo yes. If anyone wants to help me in my dream of doing this one day, get in touch! I warn you, there will be many tea breaks.

Have you skated anywhere else in Europe apart from… Wales and Scotland?
Just the Englandshire, but I have a hankering for the Yurrup at some point! Watch this space. I’m planning on doing some island hopping this summer, so we’ll see.

Where can we catch you skating this season?
That’s a closely guarded secret (read: not thought of the precise route yet), but I think I will be mixing it between skating with groups and solo stuff. I need my double rainbow quota, remember! I’m happy visiting friends this year and getting back in touch with folks I haven’t seen in ages. I would really like to see what Christopher Vallender, (a recent interviewee of AAS) is up to, he’s a legend!

The one event I am (almost) confirmed to take part in is the 3-day Chief Ladiga Challenge in Atlanta. This event is based on pride, hard work, clean livin’ country values, and the love of the sport. I’ve got to be there.

What is the UK longoarding scene like?
I’ll tell you when I see everyone again! It’s been a while! It might have changed while I’ve been away! I do miss that Matt Elver though. Get the kettle on laddy boy!

What do you ride?
Rayne Long Treks Deelite Demonseed (Team Edition/Turquoise deck), the same set of Holey trucks I’ve had since the start, Loaded Proto Icy Nipple Bushings, Seismic Speed Vents 77mm 80a, Seismic Tekton Bearings. I would like to throw a massive shout out to Chadd Hall, my ‘board tech’ and team manager. Right after a 26-hour bus journey, he saved me from a bad part of a town, and we got straight into shining my Holeys in his magical workshop…that’s not a euphemism.

European LDP scene, what will be your involvement as individual/SkateFurther/Longboard Europe?
Whatever I’m able to do, when I’m able to do it. I have long held a hankering for some Euro action, so when the financial security allows, I’ll make my way across La Manche.

Laura shining trucks... again

Choose 3 questions between 1-21:

3 – What impact has longboarding had on your life
It has changed everything. Everything. All of it. Ever. I don’t believe the amount I’ve managed to cram in since I started skating sometimes. I’m bloody lucky.

17- Do you prefer skating without socks or without underwear?
I wear two of each! Just in case…

19- What is/was your favourite video game
Bart Vs. Space Mutants on my Amiga 500 baby!!

Mr T, it has been amazing talking to you! Congratulations to everyone who made it to the bottom of this epic tale. I hope to see you and your bling skating up in London soon.
You know, if someone had told me I was going to be probed by a man for nearly 3 hours this afternoon, with people sat around me, I’d have had something to say. But really, I’m just completely happy to have had the chance to share my story. Thanks, AAS and thank you to all the awesome friends who’ve kept me upright and pushing through the tough times!

Best probing ever?
I’ll be talking about it forever. I already walk funny so there’s nothing different there.


Discussion4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Distance Nerd | Push Culture

  2. Pingback: Featured rider: Matt Elver » All Around Skate - The European Longboard Site

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