Men's Cross Country
St. Thomas University’s Nathan Paton started running in the fifth grade and hasn’t stopped since.
“It’s funny, but I actually realized cross country was for me when I was running track,” he says. When a friend expressed doubt that Paton would be able to finish the 1500m race he’d signed up for, he took it as a challenge. In the end he’d not only proven his friend wrong, but found his niche: long distance running.
The Souris, PEI native continued running cross country through middle school before captaining his high school team for two years. When it came time to choosing a university, it was STU’s cross country team that sealed the deal for Paton.
These days, 20-year-old Paton continues to lead his Tommies teammates while earning an honours degree in English.
“Once I graduate from STU with my BA, I plan to enter the education program here as well,” he says. Then, “get my BEd and become a high school English teacher.”
On the course, Paton’s coach Scott Davis describes him as “gritty, hardworking, loves the mud, the messier the better,” and lists among his strengths, “his work ethic, his knack not to accept the status quo and push boundaries”.
Paton was sidelined with an injury this summer, but says he is looking forward to getting back to the trails. He hopes to be able to hit another personal best by the end of the season.
He has high hopes for his team this year which will include several new recruits. “My goal for this year is to take these new guys in, train hard, really make them a team, and give it all we’ve got.”
Getting to know Nathan Paton:
What has been your most memorable moment running for STU?
“It would have to be the 2011 Subway AUS Championship, hosted by UNB in Odell Park this year. It was a 10k race, and my toughest competition was my teammate Cody McKay. McKay had been on my tail all year and we were pretty much equal. If I was to miss a single step, he would be ahead of me, and he knew it. I held him off for that whole 10k, and I had never felt pressure like that before. To be able to run such a strong race against a competitor I respect so much is certainly my most memorable moment so far.”
Do you have an early memory of running or of learning to love it?
“I remember running cross country for the first time in Grade 5. I was terrible…I was the slowest guy out there. But for some reason, I loved it. Running is a special thing, because no one can tell you ‘you can’t run that far’. You can run as far as you want. I had a great coach in Grade 5 named Sara Deveau. She was always encouraging, and called me the “Steady Eddie” of the team. She always waited for me to finish, no matter how long it took. I really feel the support helped me to learn to love running.”
Coach Davis’ favourite memory of Nathan, on or off the course?
“Seeing Nathan’s expression when he was named the John Frederick Walls Memorial Award recipient at STU’s athletic banquet. It is presented to a male athlete of good character, with good academic standing, showing strong athletic ability and community service. Nathan is highly involved in giving to his community and he certainly deserved the recognition. However, the fact that it is typically awarded to an upper-year, even last-year, student-athlete makes his recognition stand out so much. His expression was priceless: a combination of shock, discomfort, happiness and general ‘wow’.” – STU head coach Scott Davis.