Chris Price pushes through mile 38 at Cloudburst Summit. Photo by Jonathan Stewart
When Chris Price was dared three years ago to enter a half-marathon, he never thought he would consider running as anything more than just a leisure pursuit. Now three years later, Price has raced in several competitions and just recently placed first in the intense Angel’s Crest 100-Mile Endurance Race. It is safe to say that running has transformed from merely a hobby into a way of life for Price.
In 2009 a friend convinced Price to run the Fresno half-marathon with him. “At first I didn’t want to, but he kind of talked me into it,” noted Price. “At that point I thought, ‘Wow. That’s such a long hard race.’”
Once Price finished the half-marathon, he decided to try a whole marathon and entered into one at Big Sur. The results were disappointing. His father Mike Price, longtime teacher at Quincy High School, had previously run a marathon in less time than it took Chris. Walking away from the marathon with injured pride, Chris decided to continue training until he beat his father’s time.
Within a year he raced in another marathon and beat his father’s time. From there he was hooked. More marathons came along, followed by a couple 50-mile races, and eventually his first 100-mile race. Last year Chris raced the Diego 100, a 100-mile race in the mountains around San Diego. “That was definitely a learning experience,” Chris recalled. “I was hurting a lot more at that one. My body and brain just weren’t really prepared. I didn’t know what was really in store.”
Chris decided he would be prepared for the Angel’s Crest race, and intensely trained for eight months in advance. One peculiar training exercise Chris undertook was turning the heater in his car all the way up with the windows up while driving. This allowed him to prepare for extreme heat and he eventually trained his body not to sweat as much.
On July 21, Chris ran the Angel’s Crest 100-Mile Endurance Race. The race, which took place in Southern California, started from Wrightwood at an elevation of 6,000 feet. The course eventually climbed up to 9,000 feet at the peak of Mount Baden Powell. The race ended in Pasadena’s Johnson’s Field. The course consisted of 40 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, 50 miles of different forest trails, eight miles of dirt roads and two miles of pavement.
Contestants were allowed 33 hours to finish the race. Out of 125 people participating, only 75 completed the course. Chris came in first, completing the race in only 19 hours, 46 minutes. The second place winner was nearly an hour and a half behind him at 21:12. Between his time of completion and the second-place runner arriving, Chris had time to shower, have dinner and take a nap.
When asked what mindset he takes on while running, Chris said, “You really have to be patient and also persistent. I also try to not think too much and just enjoy being out on the mountains and on the trail; seeing deer hop by; see the sun come up. I think there’s something that really draws me to these ultra races that involves enjoying the outdoors. You get real inspiration from being outdoors that kind of fuels your run. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Chris also often thinks about the people in his life while running. His wife was present to cheer him along and provide him with water, but his mind also wandered to his parents, some co-workers and his friends. During the Angel’s Crest run, there was one particular person Chris kept thinking of.
Quincy’s Mary Dovi, a much-beloved teacher and a close family friend of Chris’, had recently passed on, and her memorial was held in Quincy the same day as the race. Though Chris was unable to make the memorial service, his memories of Ms. Dovi were present throughout the run.
“I remember how she used to always say ‘DYB’: ‘Do Your Best,’” Chris recalled. “I just thought of her a lot. I thought of all those fun times with her; skiing, playing soccer and up at Bucks Lake just hanging out. It was really motivating. I was thinking to myself that if I won, it would be for her.”
Through memories of loved ones and a healthy competitive spirit, Chris was able to envelop the mindset and endurance needed to win the race. Though physically and mentally exhausting, Chris carried on to the finish line with his head held high.