Holtamania Is Here!

Empire Elite Track Club athlete Eric Holt

Empire Elite Track Club’s Eric Holt (26) is having a season-long main character moment, and we don’t see it ending any time soon.

The SUNY Binghamton alumnus ran an Trial Qualifying (OTQ) time at the Stumptown Twilight meet in Portland, Oregon on June 3, clocking in at 3:36.62 in the men’s 1500m. But his lightning-fast times aren’t the only reason you should keep an eye on Holt this summer.

Whether you’ve been following him through Trials of Miles racing’s Qualifier Series this spring, or are just jumping on the Holtamania train, Holt’s story, and performance, are worth investing in.

The unsponsored runner has been training with Empire Elite since its inception in 2021 alongside stand-out teammates like Colby Alexander, Johnny Gregorek and Isaac Updike. However, it’s his non-traditional journey into professional running that sets him apart.

As a collegiate athlete at SUNY Binghamton, Holt was a six time American East Conference Champion. Following graduation, Holt took a few months off from running, only to come back to it with a reignited passion and focus.

“It wasn’t that I wanted to be a professional runner, it was that I wanted to reach goals for myself. One day, I was talking with someone about breaking four minutes in the mile and some guy told me, ‘Oh, you could never break four minutes,’ not knowing I was an ex-college runner. The next day I felt inspired and my goal was to break four,” says Holt.

And that’s exactly what he did. At the time, Holt was working full-time as a Mental Health Worker in Katonah, New York. Upon finishing his 13-hour shifts at the hospital, Holt took to the track to chase his dreams.

“I would get home at 10pm and my goal was always to finish the workout by midnight. But sometimes I wouldn’t, I’d finish the workout at 1 am and go to sleep and go to work the next day,” says Holt.

Sounds about like your average Wednesday night.

Eric Holt runs with Empire Elite teammates

Holt quickly made friends with mental and physical exhaustion, but this is what gives him his edge. He found that training alone was not only tough, but invigorating.

“By training like that, I became unbelievably mentally tough. I would show up to workouts all by myself, at the track in the pitch dark, sleep-deprived and exhausted. I didn’t want to run at all, but I felt like I had to,” says Holt.

This grit powered Holt to a sub-four mile, and garnered the attention of Empire Elite coach Tom Nohilly.

Training with Empire Elite Track Club came as a welcome switch-up to late-night, solo track sessions. But it didn’t come without its challenges.

Stepping up to training with the men of Empire Elite was no easy feat, but the team and coach dynamic combined with his mental fortitude helped him open up to peak performance.

“Training with Empire Elite was tough in the beginning,” says Holt. “I was doing every workout with Gregorek, Colby and Isaac, guys who run unbelievably fast. I wanted to show my coach and teammates that I’m not showing up to fool around, I’m showing up to stay with Gregorek every single rep, no matter how hard I had to train, I was going to achieve that.”

It’s clear to see Holt’s training with Empire Elite is already paying off. Between his performances at the Trials of Miles Qualifiers meets and his recent qualifying 1500m in the Stumptown Twilight meet, Holt has demonstrated that he’s ready for the big leagues.

Holt placed fourth in a field that included the undefeated Josh Kerr, Rob Napolitano, and teammate Colby Alexander. But his mind wasn’t on a qualifying time, Holt was just focused on racing in the moment.

“I did not think I was running fast at all, but I saw Colby and told myself, ‘Just stick with Colby and try your best’,” says Holt. “I finished the race thinking I ran really slow. I thought I ran like 3:42. I was so upset with myself, thinking I had my worst race, and then someone was like ‘no you ran 3:36’. I was so surprised.”

As an unsponsored athlete, Holt faces the challenge of financing his racing, travels and lodgings himself. While he does work full-time, the expenses of competing at the elite level can be overbearing.

After Holt’s qualifying race on June 3, CITIUS MAG began a campaign to fund Holt’s professional journey. Since then, CITIUS MAG has sold over 218 shirts and raised $1,457.45, all of which will be donated directly to Holt for his trip to Eugene.

Holt credits his coaches and teammates for providing him not only the training, but the support he needed to run his best.

Holt tells us that compared to his team dynamics at SUNY Binghamton and at the high school level, his season with Empire Elite is the first where he has felt fully supported.

“This season was so special for me because these guys gave me a ton of confidence I never really had before. This was the first season ever when I had teammates and coaches telling me how good I am. I’m honestly so honored and humbled to have this opportunity and it’s been a blast,” says Holt.

If anything, Eric Holt’s story tells us the importance of confidence and a strong support system when pursuing any goal:

“I was always told I didn’t have talent. And now, I’m told that I am great and I have talent and I am a good runner. I’ve never been called those things, or been in this position. I’ve always been that one guy that's just not good. I’m honored to have teammates and coaches that are willing to train with me and support me, and now I’m finally becoming the runner I always dreamed of being,” says Holt.

Now, Holt gears up for the trials at Eugene, Oregon later this month, and feels ready to take his performance to the next level.

“I’m going to have to beat guys who are better than me, but the good news is that I know I’m only getting better. I haven’t even peaked yet, in a couple weeks I’ll be better than I was at Portland, so I’m very confident that I have what it takes to make it to finals,” says Holt.

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