Hudson runner with late start to sport inspires as head coach
By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Hudson – James Martin didn's run track or cross-country or do other sports in high school. It wasn's until his sophomore year at Lasell College that the Hudson resident was egged into running for the school's cross-country team by his roommate. Martin laced up his shoes and completed his first race in just over 38 minutes for five miles. He was instantly hooked and turned into a successful athlete and team leader. After college, he helped start a Boston-area trail running club, joined the International Sky Running Federation (ISF), and he's now Lasell's head cross-country coach.
Thinking back on his start to running, Martin remembers cringing when he found out how long the race was. But that all changed when he crossed the finish line.
“While I was dry heaving, I decided the sport was awesome,” he said.
Martin became team captain and enjoyed getting people enthusiastic about running the same way he did. One of his most memorable races was when he placed third in the North Atlantic Conference Championships on a course with “tons of hills” in the “brutal cold.”
Charging up hills became something he's relish. Although his current schedule doesn's allow him to make it to ISF races, he still enjoys climbing skyward.
“This past August I was in Utah for a few days and I was able to sneak in a 4,000-footer run on the Wasatch trail,” he said.
Running trails became another passion. The trail running club he helped establish in 2007 is called WeLikeDirt. Martin said the trail running scene wasn's as popular when the club first started, so its goal was to introduce people to running on the trails. The club is informal and anyone can join the group, which meets a few times monthly for group runs, Martin added. If there's snow, members of the group strap on snowshoes and keep running.
“We encourage people to come out and give it a shot,” Martin said. “We have had first-timer and veteran 100-mile trail runners join us in the past.”
Martin started coaching the Lasell team when his old coach needed an assistant. He assisted for seven years before the head coach retired and Martin took over his duties.
“This program means a lot to me,” Martin said, “Not many coaches have the luck to be in charge of a program they once ran for, and I am honored that I get to do it.”
Martin hopes to transfer his zeal to his athletes. He recently started earning certifications so he could incorporate more strength training into the team's workouts.
Martin loves coaching and said he operates under the same goal as his former coach, Larry Sullivan. “If at the end of my time coaching an athlete, they have a love of the sport, and make running and fitness part of their lives, then I have succeeded,” Martin said.
For more information on WeLikeDirt, visit www.dirtbagtrailrunners.blogspot.com, where voicemail messages can be left for Martin from the webpage using the link on the upper right.
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