Cambridge resident Sean Hartman competed in his first adventure race last year and has now started the New England Adventure Racing Association for like-minded athletes in the New England area.|
What’s been the hook for you so far with adventure racing?
Adventure racing combines the outdoors, challenge, travel, teamwork, perseverance, athleticism, problem-solving—most of all it’s just fun, running through the woods like that.
What was the first adventure race you competed in?
A few years ago I read an article in Outside magazine about a crazy seven-day footrace race through the Sahara Desert called the Marathon des Sables. I put down the article, thinking, "That’s crazy," but for some reason tore out those pages out of the magazine and filed them away. A few months later, I found the article. Upon reading it again, I simply said to myself, "I must do this." It sounded nearly impossible—so I signed up. I’d never run a marathon, never done any kind of race like that. I wasn’t sure I could do it, which is what I think the attraction was.
You recently started an organization called the New England Adventure Racing Association (NEARA). How did you get the idea?
Last year I realized a good community resource did not exist in New England for adventure racers to connect with one another, whether they be new to the sport or experienced. I talked with lots of folks—local racers, race directors, people thinking about trying the sport—and asked them if they would like a resource such as that. There was a resounding "yes" from everyone, so I started it.
What do you hope to accomplish with the NEARA?
The goal is to provide a go-to resource for all things AR, primarily in the region but beyond as well. A few of the things we offer are a comprehensive listing of races and training events, a discussion e-mail group that allows people to connect with one another, profiles of regional racers and teams and membership through which people get discounts at races and with vendors. So far the reaction has been positive. We’ve had people connect with teammates, training outings organized by members, and we’ve started building a very vibrant and active AR community in New England. It’s very exciting.
What advice to you have for anyone interested in taking up the sport?
The important thing is to take proactive steps towards doing AR. There are now so many resources available in the region that you can definitely get the training you need and find fantastic races in the area. It’s a great time to be getting into AR.