Meet 'Go Run Site Coordinator Chris!
Get To Know Your 'Go Run Site Coordinator...Chris Carson!
This month we chatted with the Warren Park site coordinator. He has been the site coordinator for Warren for the past few years and he has been doing a tremendous job. He is a big advocate of 'Go Run and volunteers with CARA in a variety of ways throughout the year. As a Chicago Public Schools teacher at George B. Armstrong Elementary, he is very detail-oriented and one of the hardest working people out there. We asked him a few questions so you can all get to know him a little better.
What sparked your interest in being a site coordinator for ‘Go Run?
Howard Kambara, a running friend from the ’80s, was the site director at Warren Park. He injured his shoulder and asked if I could help him with setting up the course until it healed. I realized that it was my time to give back to the running community, who had given me so much. Later, Howard went on to open a new ‘Go Run site, and I gladly took over Warren. It’s the neighborhood I grew up in and still live in.
Tell us about your running history?
I was a competitive swimmer and football player in grammar school and high school, but I never ran. But at age 25 I decided to try running to lose weight. I entered a lot of races, always trying to better my times. Three years later CARA sent me an invitation to their award dinner—I had finished 6th in their points circuit. I had no idea who CARA was, but I figured if I was sixth without deliberately entering their races, I could do better with targeted training and focusing on CARA. Next year, my fourth year of running (at 29 years old), I was overall winner at the Oak Park-River Forest 5k in 15:24.6; set a PR for 10K of 33:34; qualified for the Boston Marathon with a 2:50.05 at the Chicago Marathon; AND I was #1 in the CARA points circuit for 25-29 year-olds.
What do you think makes ‘Go Run special?
Holding these free events is an incentive to get yourself in shape. And because it is a free activity, it levels the playing field by allowing everyone to participate. Families of 4, 5 or 6 might not consider paying $40 each to enter a lakefront race, but they can join ‘Go Run as often as they want. And, if they want to improve, they have an incentive to do some mid-week training too. I especially love seeing young children at ‘Go Run, starting a healthy lifestyle.
What advice do you have for all the participants?
Have fun during your runs, and bring your friends! We have lots of groups that run together. Challenge yourself to be consistent with your training and your times will take care of themselves.
What makes Warren Park a unique place for ‘Go Run?
The history makes it unique. From 1911 – 1970 Warren Park was a private 18-hole golf club named Edgewater Golf Club. It was a “restricted” club, which meant that no minorities could be members, could not be guests, could not even caddy. I lived here, and I witnessed this injustice. Neighbors could only look through the 20 foot high fences to see what they were missing. But when the club moved in 1970, the State of Illinois bought the land to build a public park. Now thousands of people every week, from all countries, ethnicities, and religions, use this land for many purposes. The people finally have this land back to enjoy.
What is your favorite food?
I could eat Thai food every day and not get tired of it. Very flavorful, very healthy, and so many different dishes to try.