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November 19, 2021
Christin Doneski is October 2021 Athlete of the Month
Boston Marathon age 50-54 division winner also part of Masters team champions
(Whirlaway Racing Team / Hopkinton NH) is the USATF New England Athlete of the Month for October 2021. Christin won the women's age 50-54 division in the 125th Boston Marathon in a time of 2:59:23, a personal best for the distance, and was part of the winning masters (age 40+) team at the race.
Leading up to Boston, Christin won the 2021 USATF-NE Road Race Grand Prix W50-54 division. It was her tenth consecutive Grand Prix division title. She won in 2011 through 2019 (W40-44 in 2011-2015 and W 45-49 in 2016-2019); this run of victories makes 10 in a row spanning 3 divisions given there was no 2020 Grand Prix. No women or men have won that many consecutive division titles. She's also won 3 USATF-NE Mountain Running Circuit titles in the 40-49 division (2013, 2014, 2017) and was the overall circuit winner in 2013 and 2014.
USATF-NE talked with Christin about her successes and longevity in the sport.
How long have you been running? And how successful was your high school and collegiate career?
: I did not run in High School as I was a three sport athlete doing all ball sports (field hockey, basketball and softball). I started running when I went to college (1989), but not for a team, just because I loved it. I actually ran TOO MUCH in college, ten miles a day, every day. I didn’t know anything about training or racing. I haven’t stopped running since 1989 but I didn’t start running competitively until I turned 40 in 2011.
What drives you to keep running year after year at a high level?
I love running. I love the simplicity, I love the community, I love my team, I love the friends I have made, I love my coach, I love running roads, mountains and trails, I love setting goals that seem just out of reach and seeing how close I can get.
The Boston Marathon is one of the most coveted races in the world. Describe the feelings you had of winning the age group in such a major event. Does this rank at the top of the list of all your accomplishments?
I ran my first Boston Marathon 25 years ago. I have run it a number of times but it never ceases to amaze me, there’s nothing like it. Like many runners I go into races with A and B, and sometimes even C goals. The A goal is a reach, the B goal should be attainable and the C goal...well things didn’t go to plan.
My A goal for Boston this year was a sub-3 hour finish. My B goal was to run fast enough to help my Whirlaway Masters Team win and my C goal was to cross the finish line with a smile.
Winning my age division wasn’t even a goal because it didn’t seem like a reach, it seemed out-of-reach. There were 880 Boston Qualified women in my age division. When my husband told me I won my age division I told him he was wrong, that it was a rolling start and that it wasn’t possible. It makes me very happy and it definitely ranks among the top of my running accomplishments.
You have dominated the Grand Prix for the last ten years. What has kept you motivated during the period of success, and how did it feel to defend your own title for so many years?
I spent two years acclimating to the grand prix when I was 38 and 39. It was a shock to my system. I’d been invited to join Whirlaway when I was 38 years old and I almost walked away after the first race. I had been enjoying some success running some road races close to home where a few hundred runners was the norm.
I was completely overwhelmed when my first grand prix race had over a thousand runners. I didn’t know where to start, how to pace and I wasn’t sure I belonged. I made it a goal to run the full series when I turned 40, ten years later I’m still running the series! I definitely have to give credit to my husband for supporting and encouraging me to run the series year after year.
I credit my Whirlaway team for motivating me. I love my teammates and I have come to adore and look forward to seeing so many good friends on the other New England teams too. We are out there competing but we respect each other and truly, we are just a bunch of close friends who want the
best for each other and love doing the same thing...running!
What are your goals for the rest of your running career?
This is the toughest question you have asked me….what are my running goals? To have fun, to do hard things, to exceed expectations (mine and other people’s) and to change my goals as I age but not diminish them. I won a 100k at age 48. I ran my fastest marathon at age 49. I came within 5 seconds of that PR at the age of 51. I have so many races I want to run from 5k to 100 miles, I guess my goal is to chip away at that list year after year.
What hobbies do you enjoy aside from racing?
I love spending time with my family (immediate and extended) and friends. I love being outside no matter what I am doing: walking, hiking, gardening. However, running is definitely my big hobby!
Whirlaway Racing Team coach Dave Kazanjian's added his views on Christin's running.
When did you first get introduced to Christin as a runner?
: Miae Jacobs, who was one of our masters runners, met Christin at a race and told me that she would be a great fit for the team. I called her, and the rest is history!
What characteristics have allowed Christin to be successful for so long?
Tenacity and persistence come to mind for sure, along with her dedication to her teammates and the team. She is extremely humble and puts the team before herself!
First of all, I will start by saying that what Christin has done is truly remarkable. She has done what no one has done before, male or female.....never mind winning 10 Grand Prix titles, but to win 10 in a row is amazing. The longevity of that streak, along with all the obstacles of staying healthy, family commitments, and the ability to run all or most of the 7 Grand Prix Races year after year for 10 years at such a competitive level is incredible.
Christin was part of the Whirlaway team which won the Masters Division at the Boston Marathon. How has Christin been an important part of that team?
She is a quiet leader. She leads by example with her dedication and commitment to the team and her teammates…..it’s not just about Christin as a runner...it’s about her as a person. Christin has been a major reason for the success of the Whirlaway Women's Open and Masters teams and will be in the Senior division also. Winning team titles and having fun with her teammates has always been more important to her than individual titles. She has been very fortunate to have accomplished both.
Winning her age group at Boston, breaking three hours, and helping her team win a title this year was astounding!
Christin is one of my all-time favorite people!