Scott Sutter runs Southern New England Athletic Association (SNEAA), which has nearly two dozen running events each year, mostly in Connecticut. The Arena Attack Series, which gives runners the option of a 5K, half marathon or full marathon, has been his baby for the past six years and has grown to take place in multiple states, including, for the first time, RI’s Ryan Center in Kingston, on February 11.
Sutter is a former Division 1 runner who graduated from The Citadel in South Carolina. His coach used to bring his team inside the field house to run on an interval workout day when the weather was excessively hot or rainy. This is what gave him the idea to hold running races indoors during the frigid and unpredictable New England winter. He reached out to XL Center in Hartford, Conn, in 2011 to see if they would be interested in hosting his event, and he’s been reaching capacity every year since.
Indoor races offer a different experience from their more popular outdoor counterparts. The climate is controlled by the organizers, meaning the conditions are optimal, regardless of the weather outdoors. There are no hills, which can sometimes cause an unexpected challenge for runners (speaking from experience). Friends and family can cheer their runner on with every lap. Bathrooms and water stations are close by, and half marathon runners have the option of leaving their own snacks at tables so they can refuel when needed. These benefits make this event optimal for a newer runner or a runner who wants to increase his or her distance.
February 11 will mark the first time the Arena Attack Race Series hits Rhode Island, and it will offer a 5k and a half marathon. Sutter said that he chose the Ryan Center because it offers a unique opportunity for runners. The flooring is a high-traffic carpet that will feel more like running on a track. There is a section of open concourse, so they will be able to use the arena’s sound system to play music for everyone. The Ryan Center also has floor-to-ceiling windows, which will provide runners with views of the outside while enjoying the controlled climate that being inside provides.
“According to our research,” Sutter proudly states, “this will be the first ever indoor half marathon in Rhode Island history. The state will have its first male and female half marathon winners!”
This race is capped at 85 total runners, 25 for the 5k and 60 for the half marathon. Sutter wanted to keep the event smaller to make sure runners have an enjoyable and safe race. He also likes that this race has a certain level of exclusivity. Sutter says that, through word of mouth, the Arena Attack races reach capacity quickly.
Sutter has plans to continue growing SNEAA and the Arena Attack Series. He is always looking to make improvements to better the experience for runner, and hopes to expand the race geographically and find a corporate sponsor. He wants to watch people grow as he watches SNEAA grow.
“The work I do with SNEAA satisfies my spiritual side,” Sutter says. “Sure, I love running, but when you find out that you helped someone lose 50 pounds, or helped their kid come out of their shell and find confidence, or helped someone manage their depression or PTSD … that’s the stuff.”
The Arena Attack Series comes to Ryan Center on February 11. Space is limited to 25 runners for the 5k and 60 for the half marathon. A custom laser-cut stainless steel finisher medal is awarded to everyone who crosses the finish line. For more information, go to sneaa.org/arena-attack-race-series/ryan-center/ or facebook.com/TheSouthernNewEnglandAthleticAssociation