As a first-year, I have only been on the women’s cross country team for a little over two months, but it didn’t take me any time at all to realize what a talented, strong group of women they are. Their stellar results will speak for themselves, but what they won’t show you is how much heart they have for running and each other.

A fellow teammate of mine, Tara Ellard ‘22, from Cape Cod, Mass., is currently in the midst of her first season as a collegiate runner. Tara has had a great season so far; she has consistently finished in the top seven for Bates. At the Pre-Nationals meet in Wisconsin, she placed seventh out of 328 in the open race!

I had the opportunity to speak with Tara about her high school running career and about her transition to college as both a runner and a student. This article has been edited for grammar and clarity.

Jenna Beagle (JB): How long have you been running and what inspired you to start?

Tara Ellard (TE): I started running my freshman year of high school. Actually, I ran track in middle school, but we only had a spring program. It was not the greatest, but I did technically do track in middle school. And then during my freshman year of high school, my sister had done indoor and outdoor track, so I kind of started running because of her. I actually didn’t start running cross country until my junior year of high school, because until then I was playing field hockey.

JB: At what point did you know you wanted to run in college?

TE: It was about the same time I decided to do cross country. It was after my sophomore year of outdoor track, and I really just loved the team and loved running, so I decided to focus on that year round and do cross country.

JB: What drew you to Bates?

TE: It was definitely my meeting with the coach and my overnight with one of the athletes. I just really liked the team atmosphere and the way that Coach Jay approached her coaching style.

JB: How has the transition been from high school to college running?

TE: It has been pretty similar, just a lot more mileage in college.

JB: You were recently named Bobcat of the week–congratulations! What does this honor mean to you?

TE: I would just say that it’s nice to know that all the effort I’m putting into practice is paying off!

JB: Which meet stands out to you and why?

TE: I really liked our meet at Pineland, because it was at our home course. It was also the first time that the whole team ran together in the same race, which was cool because at Colby the freshmen and juniors ran in one race and the sophomores and seniors ran in another.

JB: Do you have any academic interests stirring?

TE: I think right now I might want to major in religion; we’ll see. I came into Bates thinking I wanted to study environmental science, but I don’t think I want to do that anymore. But I’m thinking a major in religion, maybe something with music, and a GEC in film studies.

This Saturday, October 27, Tara and the other members of the women’s cross country team, will compete at the NESCAC Championship Race at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass. It should be an exciting race, so make sure to check it out!

Tara Ellard ‘22 sprints the final stretch of her first 6k for the Maine State meet at Bowdoin College. JAY BURNS/BATES COLLEGE