LOS ANGELES – As the 80-degree heat took its toll on many of the runners in Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, the names of the competitors forced to pack it in along the route made their way, one by one, back to the media room. While following the action at the front of the men’s race, I had my live results tracking one other runner farther back from the soon-to-be Olympians—Chris Chavez.
He did not drop out and finished 42nd in 2:26:10. Part of me felt proud.
Thanks to my namesake, others within the running community have sometimes believed my personal bests in distance running to be much faster than they actually are. His 2:17 personal best for the marathon is two hours faster than my 4:17.
His family and friends occasionally will compliment him on some of my stories. The first time he became aware of me was when his aunt emailed him an article of mine and asked why he had never told her that he also wrote about running.
“There are probably people that don’t reach out to you that give you credit for something I do, the same way that people give me credit for stuff you do.” he told me on Saturday.
The other Chris Chavez is older—29 to my 22. He’s Christopher Daniel Chavez and I’m Christopher Jonathan Chavez. There’s more muscle on his 135 pounds than on my somewhat thinner build, but not a whole lot since we’re both runners. I have the slight advantage in height as I stand at 5'11" and he measures up at 5'9".
He is from San Francisco and works as an investment analyst at UBS. He wakes up at 4:25 every morning to run before work and then does it again sometimes after he comes home to his wife, Jordan, and four-month-old daughter Cassidy.
Before he committed to running cross-country and track at Santa Monica High School, Chris was just the fast kid on the his soccer and basketball teams. I became a sprinter at Xavier High School after being cut from tryouts for my freshman baseball team. After high school, he ran at Cal-Berkley and I moved up to distance running to stave off the “freshman 15” at Marquette University. He has been running post-collegiately and I’m trucking along at seven-minute pace for my own training runs.
Californian Chris Chavez was the seventh-fastest American at the Boston Marathon last year. In two months, New Yorker Chris Chavez will be somewhere in the 20,000s if all goes well.
Baby Cassidy started crying and the elite Chris Chavez had a post-race celebration to get to with family. The U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials are sometimes the competitive swan song for runners who had hoped to give their Olympic dreams one more chance, so I asked him whether he had any plans of stopping anytime soon.
“I love running for running,” he says. “Whether it’s because of the community, fitness or training. I hope I run until the day I die.”
That's one more thing we have in common, and in the niche running community, I’m sure we’ll cross paths again.