#TBT: Checking in with 2014 ATR Champs

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In the first ever USATF-NE All Terrain Runner Series, a couple of runners made history in being the first to claim that title as their own. Nate Jenkins (CMS) and Christin Doneski (Whirlaway) both won rather convincingly in the shorter format (no indoor track or snowshoe in 2014).

There wasn’t any real surprise to their accomplishments; Nate is an accomplished runner (he beat Meb at the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon!) and Christin not only excels as a masters runner on the roads but also beats younger open runners to the tape in mountain series. Each had strengths, and the series gave them both a chance to showcase them.

Due to various reasons, neither could participate enough in this year’s series to contend for the win again. As we look ahead to Sunday’s climatic finish to the competition for 2015, we felt it was a great opportunity to look back and check in with a couple of the runners that helped put the ATR Series on the map.

What did it mean to win it last year?

Christin :The ATR is a brilliant race series. It’s challenging physically and mentally as it demands you try new endeavors. I really enjoyed being part of the series last year and appreciated the dates being released early in the year so I could get them into the calendar and make any required family plans to accommodate me making the races. I thoroughly enjoyed the community of athletes the ATR pulled together. Talk about diversity. There was a ton of talent, but that talent included road racers, trail races, ultra runners, track runners…etc. The atmosphere at the races was friendly and welcoming despite the high level of competition. I won, let’s be completely honest, due to my consistency and resiliency. I was able to make all the races and I was able to stay mostly uninjured (still able to run) all season. If runners such as Kasie Enman (the current champion) had made more of the races I would not have won. However, that does not take away from the honor of having won in the ATR’s first year. It is a highlight in my running career. I am very proud and I’m considering having t-shirts and bumper stickers made to advertise the fact!

Christin still threw down on the indoor oval this winter, placing 9th in her mile heat (5:34.73). Courtesy of Scott Mason Photo.

Nate: I really loved the idea of the series and that USATF-NE actually stepped up and put some prize money up. I have won the road grand prix a couple times, another event that I love the idea of, and I won nothing. Just the pride in a job well done. I really loved the end of the series bash and awards. It really made it feel like something that mattered.

Now that some time has passed, what do you think of the experience looking back a year later?

Christin: Looking back makes me smile and cringe! I smile because I had such a great time and I really enjoyed all of the races. I met new people and made friendships I would otherwise not have made. I adore Ashley Krause and Amanda Wright and they gave me a run at every event. They made sure I had to work really hard at every race. I cringe as I look back because I regret that I could not make the ATR part of my schedule this year. It wasn’t the snow shoe race that scared me off…I even went out and ran on my snowshoes a few times to get ready. The NEGP line up made it a bit challenging for me to commit. As ridiculous as it seems now I decided to prioritize the NEGP marathon. I really wanted a good marathon (now I’ve run 26 and never done it well) so I could just stop running them. That didn’t happen, I was so well trained and really couldn’t pull it off on race day. Now I regret not doing what the younger, smarter and more talented runners (Kasie, Leslie, Amanda) all chose to do in running the ATR and the NEGP. Live and learn. I’ve been following the series and the runners this year, and it looks like things have only gotten more fun, more competitive and more fun.

The best part about the series is it had elite road talent like Jenkins stepping onto the muddy trails to chase down elite trail talent like Kevin Tilton like was the scene at the 2014 Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race (courtesy of Scott Mason Photo).

Nate: I was super dissappointed not to get to compete this year. I’m stunned the series hasn’t gotten a lot more competitive. It is a bit outside the comfort zone but it is fun, and there is a worthy prize. I guess they way I feel is I want to do it again.

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