Ellie Shea is USATF New England Athlete of the Month for January
Ellie Shea (Emerging Elite, Belmont MA) ran 19:48 (6K) at the USATF U20 XC Championships on January 21st in Richmond,VA. This runner-up finish earned her a spot on the US U20 Team competing at the World Cross Country Championship in Bathurst, Australia on February 18th. Also in January, she ran 2:44.51 in the 1000m at the BU Terrier Classic. This is currently the 2nd fastest HS time in the country.
Ellie’s been a long-time competitor in USATF-NE events including Junior Olympic Cross Country and Junior Olympic Track & Field having run her first JO race in 2015. In 2019, she was the 13-14 USATF New England 1500m champion. This past fall, she finished 4th in the Women’s USATF-NE Cross Country Championship with 21:37 over the 6K course at Franklin Park and was runner-up at CHAMPS Sports National XC Championships in 16:56 (5K). Also this fall, on the road, she finished 12th (34:12) at the Boston 10K for Women.
Before she heads to Australia, we caught up with Ellie for some questions.
What were your hopes going into the race in Richmond?
Heading into the US Cross Country Championships U20 in Richmond, I wanted to qualify for my first US team and have fun on the looped 6km course with friends from around the country who I’ve raced with before. I knew that I would be fairly fresh in January as I had a light racing schedule in the fall. When I sat down last summer and planned out the season, racing in Richmond in January was a focus. Each race leading up to Richmond had a purpose to get me ready to run well for 6km. So I kicked off my fall season at the Boston 10K for Women, which gave me experience racing a longer distance and was super fun racing through the streets of Boston and Cambridge. I ran the USATF New England Women’s Championship 6km race at Franklin Park, which gave me experience at the 6 km distance for cross country. My next two cross country races were the Champs Northeast regional race at Van Cortlandt and the Champs National at Balboa Park, both of which are 5km on challenging courses. Knowing that Richmond was going to be a looped 2km course that was fairly flat, I liked that the back rollers at Van Cortlandt and the epic hill at Balboa that I had to run up twice would provide the strength work that I wanted heading into Richmond.
You ran some very efficient lines in the race, what was your race plan and how did it play out?
I’ve found that looped courses are really fun! I knew that I could establish myself in the top six athletes, race with the leaders and hold my position until the end. I watched a course preview video of the race and saw that it was pretty flat and likely fast. When I landed in Richmond, the weather looked good and the course was in great shape, so I knew we could push the pace if we worked together. The lead pack of six athletes all took turns leading, breaking the wind, and pushing the pace so the racing stayed honest. It was almost like we were racing as a team!
Your next race is in Bathurst, Australia. What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to meeting girls who are my age and a little older from around the world who share my passion for running fast. I’m excited to race with my US teammates in a hot, hard 6km race in Bathurst. It will be quite the change from
winter in Boston.
What’s your favorite subject in school?
Math – for me math is like solving a bunch of puzzles, which is satisfying when you get the right answer.
You’ve gotten the chance to compete all around the country. What was your favorite trip?
I’ve been fortunate to race at some of the iconic venues in the US, including cross country at Franklin Park, Van Cortlandt Park and Balboa Park, indoors at BU, the TRACK at New Balance, the Armory and outdoors at two tracks in Seattle and, of course, the legendary Hayward Field in Eugene. Each trip has provided valuable lessons and learning moments. The trip I’m most excited about is the one I’m about to take with my teammates to Bathurst, Australia to compete at the World Athletics Cross Country Championship. To put on the Team USA uniform for the first time and represent my country in a sport that I love is going to be a privilege and honor that I’ll never forget.
What travel tips do you have for other athletes?
Remember that travel is fun when it works, but be ready for anything to happen! Stay on your routine and have a plan in advance for how you want to tackle the environment that you're heading to (warm, humid, cold, wet, etc.). If you get the opportunity to travel out of the state, region or country, you will only learn and grow from it. Be grateful and enjoy it, and don’t forget to find something at your destination and go see it or experience it.
What’s your favorite track?
Any track with good competition.
For indoors, BU and the TRACK at NB.
For outdoors, Hayward Field and Bentley University, because a local Olympian (Heather Maclean) might drop in and help pace your 1500m.
Franklin Park or Van Cortlandt Park?
I like training at Franklin Park, but Van Cortlandt is special because the finish along Broadway is fast, long and lined with spectators.
Why should girls try track and field?
Everyone should try track and field! There’s something for everyone. I may not be the best sprinter, shot putter or pole vaulter, but that’s the beauty of this sport. Maybe you can be really good at the javelin or hurdles, but you won’t know until you try it. You might just discover that you can do things that you didn’t think you were capable of doing. My greatest learning from track and field, and running in general, is that the sport has improved my confidence. Track and field rewards those who work hard and smart. The sport is also full of amazingly talented people and I’ve made friends across the country through this sport that I otherwise wouldn’t have.
What are your favorite training run locations in the Boston Area?
For trails, Battle Road. It’s all dirt and nice scenery in all seasons.
For strength work, Heartbreak Hill. I think of all the marathoners and champions who have run on this hill for 120+ years.
What race bling do you wish every race gave out?
You can never have too many race shirts or gift cards to Marathon Sports!
Is there anyone you'd like to shout out or thank for this accomplishment?
I’m thankful for the massive support of my family and friends who have supported me on this journey. I couldn’t be where I am without them. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have great coaches at Waltham Track Club when I was younger and now with Emerging Elites. Each coach has helped me learn more about myself as an athlete and a person. I’m hoping that my race in Richmond is the start of a strong 2023 racing season.