Thornton Academy News

Lessons From the Race: Evan Moreshead ‘08 Finds Adventure in Teamwork


As a software engineer at Hubspot, the Boston-based inbound marketing software company, Evan Moreshead ‘08 spends a lot of time at his computer writing code. “The rest of my life is kind of boring compared to racing,” he explains with a smile. Evan began Adventure Racing in 2014 after he learned about the sport from a co-worker. “I kept bothering him with questions until he finally said the best way to learn is to try. So, he signed me up for a 12-hour race; I wasn’t quite ready.” At present, Moreshead participates in five to seven races a year, and trains regularly to be able to compete. He runs 65 miles a week and bikes in the evenings, coming together with his teammates on occasion to practice particularly challenging race skills, like pack rafting. “I really appreciate the combination of both intense individual practice, and the opportunity to bring it all together and work as a team...the logistics and strategy of it all.” 

Upon hearing Morehead speak about his adventures it’s easy to imagine he was always an athlete, but that’s not the case. While at TA, he was involved in new media and spent his four years as TATV’s webmaster. But being a team player doesn’t necessarily require a uniform or cleats. He remembers lots of collaborative projects during his time as a Trojan, and learned to value both the challenge and the fun found in working together during his high school years. When he arrived at Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall of 2008, a chance conversation between his father and the crew coach led to a major change in his life; Evan decided to join the crew team! While he started out as one of the least in shape of the rowers, he finished strong—a four-year collegiate athlete, and one of the fastest and strongest on his team. “Even though I was nervous and out of my element, I tried something new and it transformed into a whole new passion. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t say yes to something new.” 

It’s not surprising that he began looking for another challenge when he graduated from RIT and moved to Boston. He wanted to do more than just run, and he wanted a team to compete with. Enter Adventure Racing; at its core is a collaborative sport that asks participants to work together as they navigate over an unmarked wilderness course. Race terrain mostly requires biking, trekking, and paddling, though some events also include opportunities to rock climb and abseil, ski, and white water raft. Each race can last from two hours to two weeks, with any competition under 24 hours considered a sprint. With the quickly growing popularity of the sport, events are held all over the world. In preparation for his first race, a 12-hour “sprint”, Moreshead bought a new bike, learned the basics of mountain biking, and increased his running regimen. He remembers the day of the race being really difficult—hot and very uncomfortable—but his team ended up winning, and “nothing gets you hooked like winning your first race.” 

In this sport, individual preparation is key, but choosing your teammates is also important. “When you race you move together at all times. You have to be able to trust your team.” Luckily, Evan is part of Team Strong Machine, an adventure racing team located in Portland, Maine and Rockford, Illinois that includes some of his closest friends. As a whole, the nine-person team competes in multiple races each year, across the U.S. and internationally (as well as hosts the Maine Summer Adventure Race). However, individual races are primarily completed by co-ed teams of four. After his first race, Moreshead competed in a few additional short races. His fourth took him to Adventure Racing Nationals for a 30-hour race. After that, he was tapped to be part of the team who would complete the “Untamed New England,” a three-day race stretching from Sunday River to Kittery! But as daunting all that sounds, Moreshead describes the next phase of his Adventure Racing journey as “really taking it up a notch.” 

Last July, Moreshead and three of his teammates took on the Nordic Islands Adventure Race; part of the Adventure Racing World Series. The seven-day journey stretched across 700 kilometers; from Are, Sweden to Aleslund, Norway. Moreshead and his team were one of nine groups who crossed the finish line, racing roughly 163 hours straight. While their trip started off a bit rocky (their airline didn’t send their bike boxes, including most of their race supplies, along with their flight) they got their belongings back just in time and were able to compete. 

Along the way they encountered enough “adventure” to last most people a lifetime—seven days of hard racing in difficult weather and challenging terrain. They had a brush with hypothermia; spent a night sleeping next to a furnace in a stranger’s barn; and another in a tiny, off-grid hut; all the while surrounded by awe-inspiring natural scenes that most will never behold. Together they tackled approximately 16,000 meters of elevation gain—that’s twice the height of Mount Everest. “It was fun, but also brutal...at about day five we started to think ‘seven days is just too much for a race,’ but we kept going.” Their last stretch saw them paddling through a fjord, surrounded by picturesque Nordic mountains. They reached the shore, napped for a short time, and biked to the finish, having slept only eight hours during their time together.

“It feels really good to know I couldn’t have done more if I tried—that I left everything out there on the course,” said Moreshead, “and that I worked really hard for my team.” The same effort and commitment that serves him on the race course shows up in his professional life as well. “It’s all about building trust. When I’m out there I have to be able to trust that my teammates are prepared, and that they will communicate with me if something changes. And I need to be able to do the same...Learning to help and be there for teammates to make sure we always get
it done together. In racing often the person that is struggling at one point might be the one towing you later.” 

Without a commitment to his training and his teammates he never would have seen and experienced all that Adventure Racing has brought him. “I would never have gotten here if I didn’t say ‘yes’ to something new. That’s one of my life mottos, actually. Push your limits. Try something new. Say yes. And then work hard to be a good teammate. You never know where it’ll take you.”

Team Strong Machine will compete in 10 races in 2020. Moreshead will participate in several of these and looks forward to many more miles of adventure with his teammates. For more information about Adventure Racing and Team Strong Machine, visit: strongmachinear.com.