Hometown Heroes: Amber Ferriera is an endurance athlete who has endured

  • Hometown Hero Amber Ferreira running in the Jingle Bell 5k Courtesy 

  • Hometown Hero Amber Ferreira swiming laps Courtesy

  • Hometown Hero Amber Ferreira has spent the year doing different events, like running the Jingle Bell 5K, swimming laps and biking up Mt. Kearsarge. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 12/17/2020 8:52:25 AM
Modified: 12/17/2020 8:52:15 AM

In October 2019, Amber Ferreira took a leave of absence from her job at Concord Hospital as a physical therapist. She went to Colorado to train as an endurance athlete, which is just one of her other gigs.

The 38-year-old had just finished a 27-mile “swimrun” event (a Swedish sport involving a friend, a tether and, you guessed it, swimming and running) and was charging toward another six months of training in the Rocky Mountains when the pandemic hit. So, Ferreira decided to end her training early and head back to New Hampshire. On the drive home, she worried that her third job, coaching endurance athletes of all levels, was also going to shut down.

“Races were just falling off the calendar, and who’s going to need a coach if there are no races,” Ferreira said. “But what was interesting was just how much people needed community during this time, and maybe even wanted to be held a little more accountable now that there were no races on the schedule. So, we just made up fun challenges for the athletes to do this year, and I actually gained athletes.”

Helping build and inspire a community through fitness is why Ferreira was nominated to be a Hometown Hero. She made up three swim/bike/run courses, emailed her athletes the course coordinates (she personally coaches 30 people and her team, Granite State Endurance Project, has about 150 members), gave them a week to finish it, had T-shirts made for participants and then showed up on the course to cheer them on.

She was working with a cyclist, Sarah Reardon, who wanted to bike the length of New Hampshire after all of her races were canceled. So Ferreira set up a course that started at the Canadian border and ended in Pelham on the Massachusetts border and then rode the 222 miles with Reardon in 11 hours. That was so much fun, Ferreira created a running relay event along the same course.

“It’s a New Hampshire-based team, so why not just bike the state and run the state,” Ferreira said.

She also organized an event on Mt. Kearsarge so her athletes could “Everest” – climb the height of Mt. Everest (29,029 feet) by going up the same incline over and over again in one day. Ferreira didn’t make up this diabolical event, but she did use it to raise $5,000 for a good cause, the NAACP.

Ferreira may have made an extra effort to create community during the pandemic, but she has always been about inclusion. It’s the reason her team has the name it does.

“It’s called the Granite State Endurance Project because I think that’s all-encompassing. It’s not ‘racing team’ or something like that,” Ferreira said. “I like the word ‘Endurance’ because it pretty much includes everyone.”

Ferreira coaches everyone, but she is an elite athlete. She’s had top-five overall finishes at major Ironman events and has competed at the international level for the U.S. National Snowshoe team. She’s not sure when she’ll make it to the next big event, but for now she’s competing in local races and bringing her infectious enthusiasm with her, like wearing elf tights while running in the Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell 5k Run earlier this month.

“I love big races and racing at a big scene, but I also love the local, community races, like the 5k in elf tights,” Ferreira laughed. “If we have to do that for a little more, that’s okay. I mean, it’s been a bummer of a year, but it’s also been a unique year and pretty cool in a lot of ways.”

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