The USATF-NE All Terrain Runner Series comes to a dramatic conclusion this coming Sunday at the Seasons 20k in Acton, MA. While there are cash and awards on the line for many age groups, the silver tuna is the $1,000 cash money payment going to the winner of the overall series (each for male and female). Kasie Enman has conveniently (and impressively) wrapped up the women’s series but the men’s series is in play. But who are the contenders?
1 – Scott Leslie (6 events): 475.12
2 – Chris Mahoney (6 events): 469.43
3 – Ethan Nedeau (5 events): 462.27
4 – Alex Hall (6 events): 461.69
12 – Ryan Carrara (4 events): 380.79
Alex Hall narrowly lost out to Nate Jenkins in the 2014 edition of the All Terrain Runner series. Nate ended up winning with 484 total points compared to 452 for Alex. With Nate sitting out this year’s version, that makes Alex the highest returning finisher this year. He’s quickly becoming the elder statesman of the series; more events were thrown in this year but Alex has taken on even more terrain in stride.
What the guys are competing for (along with pride, glory and respect of all vanquished foes):
First – $1,000
Second – $500
Third – $250
Fourth – $100
Fifth – $50
It’s a long drop in earnings from 1st to 5th, so each guys really has motivation to bring home the bacon.
We peppered the contenders with questions about the series so far and their expectations for the conclusion. Here are the responses from Alex, along with some help from his friends…
How does it feel to be in contention for this unique title?
As a lifelong distance runner, there are so many things I’ve learned to enjoy: blisters, chaffing, discolored toenails, the loneliness of the winter long run, and those wonderful sunburns that make it look like I wear a sports bra. Starting last year, I learned how to make these experiences even more enjoyable. I have now added frostbite from snowshoeing, walking in races (“mountain running”), and running track and cross country during the summer. Eric Narcisi’s ATR has greatly added variety to my training focuses, race experiences, and moments I say ‘wtf am I doing here’. I’m glad to be so close to the front pack of this group of crazies.
What was the point in the series where you felt you had a good shot at winning it all?
For me, it was probably before the series even started. I loved the line up this year in regards to my strengths. For track, I’ve got the best foot speed among the ATR’rs. Derryfield Park was my home training ground for 7 solid years. And I’m generally more competitive at the longer NEGP races (so the bump to 20k was exciting). I thought I could throw down a lot more in both the trail and mountain than I did last year. Among the 7 races, I definitely had at least 5 covered.
What was your strongest event? What about your favorite?
Ultimately I think the Trail race was my best performance. However, I do want to go on record that maybe early spring isn’t a good time for the trail championship. I’m starting to notice a pattern with Sleepy Hollow mudfest 2014, and the historic postponement of the Merrimack River Trail Race.
Points-wise, I did slightly better in Outdoor Track; but something about running 12 1/2 circles by myself while being lapped by members of my alma mater made it a little less enjoyable than running on the trails.
Who are you most concerned about going into the final event, the Seasons 20k?
In the XC race I was able to gain 7 points by dropping a low score. I need to do that again. I need to make another move to fend off that sneaky Carrara. My biggest concern? It’s definitely not Leslie, Mahoney, Carrara, or those masters runners who somehow snuck on the list. It’s Ethan Shaw. Do I stand a chance against him? No. Can he lower my score by running a blazing fast tuneup for Chicago? Yes. It definitely highlights the aspect of the ATR that there are so many factors at play. These same factors tempted me to bribe Ben True to submit his 5000m time so Carrara’s top race became worthless.
Have you ever run a 20k before? If so, what’s your PR?
No. What a silly distance.
How do you like your chances?
There have been some offline conversations about skipping the 20k or being injured. I hope this is true. I suspect these to be lies to instill a false sense of confidence in the competition. Regardless, aside from Carrara, I think I am in the best situation to improve my score (a side effect from having the lowest 5th race).
Why do you think you can win?
I’ve never met Carrara. I assume he doesn’t know what I look like. I’m pretty sure I can sneak by while he’s busy hunting down Leslie & Mahoney.
Why do you think you might lose?
As a backup plan I’ll be running in full hockey gear to avoid physical injury from unruly competitors.
Any advice to offer your competition on race day?
I’ve heard the race is really a beautiful course. I think my competitors could really benefit from taking in the sights and sounds of race day. Maybe take some good photos to post to their Instagram accounts. In the end, do we really care about the money? Get out there and enjoy a nice easy run!
Since Alex name dropped a couple of fellow Dartmouth alumni, we thought we’d check in with a couple of them to get some words of encouragement for him as a special surprise.
Steve Mangan (current NE Distance athlete): “When I was at Dartmouth, I worked at the campus fitness center, usually the late night shift. Alex would wander in and chat with me for a bit and tell me how much he was dreading his treadmill run. I’m glad to see that he’s finally branched out and gotten off the treadmill and onto the trails.”
Ethan Shaw: “Oh man I had no idea about all of this when I signed up for the race. If Alex is doing the training that I think he’s doing, than this will probably be the longest run that he’s done in 4 weeks. So he has plenty to worry about without worrying about my race.”
Thanks to the Dartmouth guys for playing along. Tried to get a quote from Ben True as well, but did not hear back as of the publishing of this (still holding onto hope for a late update). But anyway, we’re glad Alex finally got off the treadmill too. He’s been a big part of why this series has been so competitive. He and Todd Callaghan are the only two from the top five last year that’ll get in a full five scoring events this year (Todd was 3rd in 2014 and is in currently in 5th place for this year). Alex is virtually guaranteed another top five spot this year, but the question is just what place at the top will he secure? Can’t wait to find out!