The Chicagoland running community comes together for the CARA Runners’ Choice Circuit every year. Runners of all backgrounds and abilities are welcome. Run one Circuit race, five races or the entire Circuit! It’s up to you.
We have so many incredible runners participating this year and we want to highlight them throughout the season. We are introducing CARA Circuit Runner of the Month. Moving forward, each month we will highlight a specific standout Circuit runner and get their perspective on racing. To kick us off, we are featuring Chris Robertson.
Chris has won his last three Circuit races: the Good Life Race 5K, the Wintrust Lakefront 10 Miler, and the Ravenswood Run 5K. He is fast. We had some questions for him to get to know him better and share more of his experience with racing the Circuit:
Why do you enjoy participating on the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit?
There's an excellent mix of tough competition and community feel. The Chicago running community is top-notch and I'm fortunate to have met many incredible people through running.
What is for your favorite local race?
Shamrock Shuffle and the Chicago Marathon are the obvious choices, but I've been really loving the Lakefront 10 Mile the past few years. It starts right by where I live and run every day, so I feel like I have home court advantage. I also love finishing with a lap on the track!
You are a CARA member, and you also race for Fleet Feet Nike Racing Team. How does participating with a racing team help your experience?
Having a team atmosphere and community of like-minded people makes running so much more enjoyable, which in turn brings more success. I am also a part of DWRunning and coached by Dan Walters. Having him start as my coach in 2019 has been a game changer. He keeps me focused on what's important and gone are the days of second guessing myself when figuring out my own training plan. Between CARA, Fleet Feet, and DWRunning, I am really taking advantage of the best running resources Chicago has to offer and am grateful for the opportunities. .
What helps you balance competing at a high level, while also maintaining a full-time career?
This is a continuous learning process for me and something I try to improve upon all the time. It is definitely tough, especially since I work way more than the typical 40-hour work week. I think the main thing is understanding that sacrifices must be made in order to achieve big things. I don't play video games, I watch minimal TV, and I'm anxious when I'm not doing something productive that either adds to my fitness or my mental capacity. I try to remove all waste from my life and optimize my time.
Running also improves my ability to perform at my job. It is my form of meditation and many of my best ideas come to me while running. Running first thing every morning prepares me to take on the day.
How did you get started in running?
My Dad ran daily when I was growing up and competed at road races in the area almost every weekend. I started participating at the kid's races (100 yard dash, 1/4 mile run) before I was in kindergarten. I was more interested in soccer and basketball growing up, but always ran as well. In high school, I decided to drop soccer and basketball to just focus on cross country and track.
You have the unique distinction of holding the American Record for the Beer Mile at 4:46. For those that don't know, what is the beer mile? And what attracted you to pursue this record?
The beer mile involves chugging four beers and running a mile (four laps around the track) as fast you can, alternating beer, lap, beer, lap, beer, lap, beer, lap. The beer mile was something I kind of just fell into. I did a few in college with my running club teammates and would consistently run between 6:00 and 6:30, which was decent for no practicing but not nearly fast enough to compete at championship races. I remember watching the first Flotrack Beer Mile World Championship in 2014 on a live stream and telling myself that I wanted to be at that race in 2015. It took some practice getting the chugging technique down, but I ended up improving to 5:28 before the 2015 world championships and (barely) got in. From there, I just kept improving a little at a time and attending the beer mile world championships each year, which led me to the American Record. I'm hoping beat my time this year and have a great showing at the Beer Mile World Classic in August in Berlin.
What encouragement would you share with a runner just getting started in the sport?
Not every day will feel effortless, and some days running can feel more like a chore than something you look forward to. But, if you keep getting out the door you will improve drastically and be better for it. I've never finished a run wishing I hadn't done it, but I've always regretted skipping out on runs.
Also, to never get discouraged when going through a rough patch or injury. Fitness comes back quickly, especially when you start building up multiple years of consistent running.
What are your running goals for this year? Any long term goals?
I would like to focus on a fall marathon and take a shot at running 2:18 to qualify for the Olympic Trials 2020. Other than that, I just want to continue to set personal bests at every distance and win races.
Thanks Chris for taking the time to share with us. All of us at CARA are inspired by your commitment to your training and we are excited to cheer you on the rest of the year!
The CARA Runners’ Choice Circuit is a great way to experience the Chicagoland running community.
You can run as an individual, or race with your local club. Runners of all levels annually participate in CARA Circuit Races to complement their year-long training programs and to enjoy the camaraderie of the CARA running community. Runners can earn competitive awards for themselves and their clubs, as well as participation awards for completing Circuit races.
Here’s the remaining schedule for 2019:
May 11 Quarryman Challenge 10 Mile (Lemont)
May 25 Soldier Field 10 Mile (Chicago)
June 1 Cosley Zoo Run for the Animals 10K (Wheaton)
June 16 Race Against Hate 5K (Evanston)
July 04 Elmhurst 4 on the 4th 4 Mile (Elmhurst)
July 28 Randy Walker Memorial 5K (Evanston)
August 11 BTN Big 10K (Chicago)
September 07 Itasca Oktoberfast 5K (Itasca)
September 15 Alpine Races Half-Marathon (Lake Zurich)
October 13 Bank of America Chicago Marathon (Chicago)
October 26 Lake Bluff PTO Pumpkin Chase 5K (Lake Bluff)