Episode 15 – Esther Erb Atkins

Today’s guest is about as D3 as it gets. Esther Erb Atkins was better known as a cello player in high school, running only her senior year. She chose case western for their strong academic programs, going on to earn degrees in music and cognitive science. But one day her freshman year, the cross country coach spotted her on the treadmill at the gym, and encouraged her to join the cross country team. The rest is as they say, history. Esther would go on to lead Case Western to two top ten finishes at the national cross country meet, and her senior year became the individual champion over 10,000m, winning by .4 seconds. 

Esther has gone on to a successful professional career, highlight by a national championship in the marathon in 2014, which earned her the right to represent the United States at the 2015 world championships.

Esther recounts more from the 10k: And I remembered something else going through my head in that final straight. Toni Wiszowati had run under 34:00 (top seed by over a minute) to qualify that year after being injured in the fall and being the first person to miss qualifying for indoor nationals in the 5k. I felt so bad for her when she missed out on qualifying that I found her email on her school directory and reached out.
So the night before the 10k, at the banquet I saw her and gave her a hug and she told me that she was there to receive her regional athlete award, but she was injured. And then she told me that she wanted me to win for her. I took her words very seriously, and in that last 100m, I remembered what she had said, and was just repeating her name in my head because I knew that if I made it that far and didn’t try, I’d be sad that I had let her down again after a really hard year. I think that’s where god gear truly came from – when you do something for someone else, it pulls out so much more than you could possibly do for yourself alone.

Thanks for joining us again, as always feel free to leave a rating or review of the podcast wherever you’re listening, and if you really want to be a hero, introduce the show to a friend. We’ll be back with more episodes every other Tuesday – until then, here’s to the glory days.

Esther on social media: @erbyatkins
D3 Glory Days Strava: https://www.strava.com/clubs/d3glorydays
D3 Glory Days Twitter
D3 Glory Days Instagram

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