SOUTH HILL, Va. (WAVY) – Skateboarder Chad Caruso set a world record for fastest crossing of the continent on a skateboard when he arrived at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on May 19. He had set out nearly two months earlier from Venice Beach, California with little more than the clothes on his back and the board under his feet. 

His aim was to complete the trip before the first U.S.-based Jackalope Festival, which sponsored him on his journey. In the end, he arrived with three weeks to spare (the event is this weekend). To do so, he had to keep a consistent pace of 50 to 70 miles a day, stopping to sleep and clean his clothes at hotels along the route. 

“It’s just me and a backpack, that’s it. No crew, nothing else,” he told 10 On Your Side’s Steve Fundaro when we met up with him outside of South Hill on the day he hit 3,000 miles. “[I] just have like two liters of water with me and some snacks in the morning and that’s it.” 

For 57 days, it was just him, the open road and his board. That useless wooden toy not only guided him up mountains and past endless cow-filled pastures, but through life as well. 

“About 7 years ago I got sober and it completely changed my life – got more energy, more focus, things like that,” he said. “I just wanted to give back to a cause that helped me.”

He credits skateboarding with helping keep his life in balance and his mind in check. 

“Whenever I veer away from skateboarding, things tend to go wrong,” he said. “Me, personally, I need to have something positive to focus on and that’s skateboarding. It keeps me in the present moment, absorbed in what I’m doing.” 

Caruso used the trip to raise money for Natural High, a nonprofit that helps prevent drug abuse in teens by connecting them to activities they’re passionate about. He succeeded in collecting over $10,000 for the organization. 

And his messages resonated far beyond the many interested people he met along his route. 

He said he received countless messages from people across the country who were inspired to pursue sobriety (and get back on a skateboard) by his actions. 

“This exceeded any expectation,” he said. “I kind of envisioned myself out here alone, barely anyone would be watching and I’d just figure it out. The support has been unreal, and even if it has helped one person get sober or change their life, that would’ve been incredible and worth it, and the fact it’s done that for more people is amazing.” 

His GoFundMe received comments from people as far away as Europe. 

“You’re a great inspiration and amazing ambassador for Skateboarding Chad,” one commenter posted. “So happy you made it safely and raised a huge chunk of money for a great cause. Been watching from day one all the way from Glasgow Scotland. You’re a legend Mate.”

“Congrats Chad, followed your YouTube channel from day one. You’re a real inspiration! Regards Benny. Greetings from Belgium,” another wrote. 

So how on Earth does one navigate the highways of America, which often don’t even have shoulders, on a small wooden board? 

“Own the lane,” he told us. 

“I’m a car basically at that point. I’m just a slow moving car…. Sorry guys, it is what it is,” he explained, seconds after an 18-wheeler flew past just a few feet away. 

Although Caruso made good time most days, the trip was no pleasure cruise.

Wrong turns, bad weather, running out of water, smelling up his bag with a Subway sandwich – Caruso experienced it all. 

“I’ll never forget the Palm Springs climb,” he said. “It was like day three, I didn’t really know what I was doing at that point. I got hit with a sandstorm, it was blazing hot, I was wearing a hoodie to hide from the sun and it was a huge climb. But once I made that, I was pretty confident about the rest of the trip – and that was only day three.” 

Perhaps the most incredible part of Caruso’s feat is not the physical achievement – nor the fearlessness that it takes to place oneself in traffic on busy roads for days on end with no protective equipment – but that every piece of the board Caruso set out with from California made it to Virginia. 

It’s normal for a skateboarder to have to change out their bearings or replace their deck (the wooden board part) after their board gets wet once. Caruso braved multiple intense storms, draping himself inside a trash bag with holes for his arms as he pushed onward. 

“I’ve been using the same board the entire time,” he said. “I haven’t changed anything, not the wheels, not the bearings.”

He showed us his wheels when we met up with him. What had originally been monster-sized 68-mm cylinders had eroded to significantly smaller octagons of sort. With so many chunks missing, the surfaces of the wheels resemble the pot hole-marked country roads he’d traversed. 

Just a few short days after we interviewed him, Caruso found himself bombing the Jordan Bridge with a police escort. Bombing, by the way, is the skateboarding term for descending a hill.

He made his way through town and onto Virginia Beach Boulevard – his posse of fellow skateboarders growing the closer he got to the Oceanfront. 

When he finally reached the end of that very, very long road, his feet hit the sand and he ran into the ocean as onlookers cheered.  

“For me it’s like a meditation, something to focus on. It could be anything for anyone. For me it’s a skateboard but I just think it’s important to have something positive and passionate to focus on,” he told Fundaro as camera crews and high-fiving fans trudged through the sand to gather around him. 

Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer then presented him with a proclamation declaring May 19, 2023 as Chad Caruso Day. 

This weekend Caruso will return to the Oceanfront, joining skate legends like Tony Hawk and Bucky Lasek – as well as some hometown heroes like Collin Graham – at the Jackalope Festival. The festival is free and open to the public. A full schedule and list of guest athletes is available on their website