Strong Machine Adventure Racing is a proud sponsor of the 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝗠𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗦𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗱, a group of New England-based adventure racers working to gain proficiency in the sport of adventure racing.
The Squad will be competing in the co-ed premier division at adventure races throughout the United States.
The Squad is comprised of:
Jeff O'Connor (captain)
JS (Jeff) O’Connor has been involved with adventure racing since 2016 when he served as the race photographer for the inaugural Maine Summer Adventure Race. He is an award-winning adventure filmmaker and Boston-based architectural photographer who has taken the plunge into adventure racing in his own right. Jeff is an avid XC mountain biker, skier, Zwifter and SCUBA diver and he currently serves as the Strong Machine Development Squad’s team captain.
Doug's background in endurance sport stems from four years of collegiate rowing at Bates College. Following his collegiate career, Doug found triathlon a natural fit. He competed across all distances including qualification for the Ironman World Championships. His first adventure race was the 2013 Untamed 24-hour event. A love for the outdoors has always been his strongest guiding force and he currently attempts to maximize his time outdoors, in a rowing shell, on trails or skis. Doug is a rowing coach at Bowdoin College and The Sustainable Athlete.
Annie's first foray into adventure racing was the 24-hour Maine Summer Adventure Race, which she tackled as a birthday present adventure with her partner, Brian McLeod. Despite a few newb mistakes, they were delighted to finish the race in one piece (well, two pieces) and even came in first in their division--a feat that would have been remarkable, had they not been the sole team in that division! In any event, it was the start of what has become a bit of an addiction. In addition to the MSAR, Annie and Brian have also completed the Wildlands Adventure Challenge, both as a duo and with their gaggle of four children. Annie lives in Brunswick, Maine with her son and daughter and is a registered nurse by trade. She enjoys adventures of all sorts, but anything involving cold water (and, well, actually even cold air!) is definitely her achilles heel. Annie has hiked, biked, and paddled on five continents and hopes to one day race internationally. For now, she is thrilled to be on the Development Squad and to have found a sport where being good at handling sleep deprivation can actually pay off.
Brian lives in Western Maine with his two boys. He is an information security officer for a community bank that recently became the first bank in Maine to be certified as a Benefit Corporation. The 2019 24-hour Maine Summer Adventure Race was his first AR , which he completed with his partner Annie. Since then he has been hooked and has been participating in virtual and actual endurance events, one of which ended with a ride in a police cruiser. His near-term goals include completing a 50-mile trail run and an expedition-length adventure race.
Katherine van Hengel
Katherine recently moved to the Seacoast from Brooklyn, N.Y. While she only started adventure racing in 2020, she was competitive in soccer and track earlier in her life and has recently been competing in triathlons. She loves hiking, road and mountain biking, soccer, and swimming, especially if it involves an adventure or a new location. She's super-excited to be part of the Strong Machine Development Squad and can't wait for the 2021 season.
David has been an adventure racer since 2016. The thrill of getting lost outdoors quickly become addictive and shortly after his first 8h AR at Strong Machine's MSAR, David found himself in Australia with his older brother and two strangers for the brutal 40-hour Wildside Adventure Race. Twenty hours into the race, and after eight hours of paddling, the team was forced to DNF. But this was only the beginning of his AR journey. David lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife, Lilach, and their three girls, who not yet know but in a few years will race MSAR as well. When not focused on adventure racing, David tries to find time for a career in PwC as a director in management consulting.
Marty is a multiple time AR finisher and Ironman athlete with a love of all things outdoors. He’s a 20-year military retired vet who’s been on every continent except Antarctica and has vowed to make it there someday. If he’s not battling with COVID-19 in his capacity as a public health director, he’s having fun with his two young daughters or training outside or in his “pain cave”. Please say hi and hopefully this year’s races bring much adventure!
Kasia fell in love with adventure racing while weaving through singletrack in the Louisiana swamp in a torrential downpour during her first race. At the 2020 Wildlands Adventure Challenge, she and Jeff O'Connor took home second place in the two-person co-ed division. AR incorporates all the things she loves about rugby as a former player - teamwork, troubleshooting, and pushing herself physically and mentally - and has the added benefit of going on adventures in the great outdoors, which is her happy place. She is excited to be part of the Squad and hopes to build up to doing an expedition race someday.
The Strong Machine Development Squad is reselected every January. Requirements for selection:
- Early-career adventure racer (i.e., 10 or fewer races)
- Fitness-oriented athlete (i.e., established record of endurance training)
- Mentor ready (i.e., seeking growth in skills, training, strategy, etc.)
- Looking to race faster and longer (i.e., long-term goal of forming a competitive team and completing expedition-length races)
Development Squad members will commit to:
- Participation in at least 2 USARA-affiliated races per year with members of the development squad in the coed premier category
- Racing with the development squad for at least 1 racing season but no more than 2 racing seasons
- Attending team meetings (via video conference)
Strong Machine will provide:
- Individual and group mentoring and training
- Free entry to all Strong Machine races
- Race jerseys and other branded apparel