By Donald Quinn IV
XTERRA Trail Run Intern
Photo: Adventure Geeks Racing
The XTERRA Atlantic trail run series has been garnering a lot of well-deserved attention lately, including one of it's races being named one of Competitor magazine's “21 Must-Do Mid-Atlantic Races”. Accolades are not the only unique thing about this thriving race series, however; their incredibly singular animal-totem pole T-shirts (one of which the author has earned after racing in this series) is just one of the things that helps to distinguish the Atlantic series from it's competitors. When asked what makes their races unique, race directors Jefferson and Kristen Nicholson had this to say:
“Both Kristen and I are runners and have years of experience as participants. This gives us the unique perspective of knowing what our participants want and expect. We are runners catering to other runners. We really want every single participant to feel like they are part of our XTERRA Atlantic family. We accomplish this through unique and thoughtful race gifts, friendly staff and volunteers, hand-picked courses, hand marked courses with enough signage that everyone can find their way, family friendly finish line production, and an a genuine excitement for being outdoors and encouraging all to run and have fun.
We all strive to keep costs down and encourage everyone to participate. We have special youth pricing, we run specials for reduced entry fees, when appropriate we dedicate our time and craft skills to making awards and race gifts, and we do all the timing and production ourselves.
Although it is not all that exciting or apparent to the participants, I think the fact that we handle everything from preparation, course marking, production, and timing ourselves makes our races unique. While it is a lot of work for us, it helps us keep the costs down for our participants, and it allows each race and the entire series to run as one smooth and coherent event. Results are posted quickly, questions are answered efficiently, and we always know exactly what is going on in every aspect of the event.”
I can attest from personal experience that Jefferson and Kristen's races are very well organized. The courses are always well laid out, and the volunteers and staff are very efficient and friendly.
Even if you don't like trail running you should race in the Atlantic series just to get one of their T-shirts. I have personally never seen a race shirt so decorative, so I asked Jefferson and Kristen how they came up the idea for the shirts.
“We always try to incorporate the race venue's history, landscape, and/or wildlife into the race's logo and story. Each of last year's XTERRA Atlantic Trail Running Series was represented by an animal which we then molded into a totem pole. The idea of this year’s race logos was inspired by European soccer team logos but we added a modern family crest twist to that approach. Each race has its own family crest with features that are unique to each venue. We plan to use this year’s logos in conjunction with the XTERRA brand to make our t-shirts, awards, and race gifts truly one of a kind.”
Of course, every race director knows races aren't about the course, or the cool T-shirts. Races are about the runners, and the Atlantic series has a vibrant community of racers. When asked who were some of the racers who stand out to them, the Nicholsons had this to say:
“Can I say all of them? We've made some amazing friends with our race participants the last two years. But a few that really stand out are Don Quinn and his whole family who not only raced with us at multiple events last year but they also came out to help set up, manage race's, and then helped with post-race clean up. We have a small production crew so any extra help is definitely noticed and very much appreciated. (It's ok, you can brag about yourself. We think you are all awesome!)”. (Author's note: I didn't solicit the shout-out; it was a pleasure to be part of the race series.)
“Steven Leibowitz has also been a huge part of our series the last two years. He's a fierce competitor and a dedicated fan of the series who's helped get the word out through his awesome running blog. Last year he and his wife had their first child and then dealt with a house fire (yes, they're safe and sound), and he still ran most of the races in the series. That's dedication! We also had one participant that ran all five of our races last year: Benjamin Hall. The running community is growing so rapidly, and that is great, but it means that on any given weekend you can have your pick of many races. For Ben to show up at every one of our races really gives us confidence in our series. For at least one person, our races are the place to be on a Saturday or Sunday morning. We appreciate his dedication, and hope he inspires many more repeat participants in 2015.”
The Atlantic series certainly attracts an upbeat type of runner. The Nicholson's describe their race series as “Fun, festive, and relaxed with support and encouragement for runners of all skill levels. Each race has its own unique course and local flair, to keep the series exciting from one race to the next. There is real value in participating in multiple events.”
If that sounds like you, the first race of the series is March 15th in Wilmington Delaware. I can tell you from personal experience, if you like well designed courses, great T-shirts, and a supportive racing environment, the XTERRA Atlantic series is the place to go.