Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the July/August 2012 Issue of Level Renner magazine. We are re-issuing it here to celebrate Chris Magill’s 2nd place finish in the masters division at the Falmouth Road Race held on August 11, 2013. Magill ran 37:58 (5:21 pace) for the famous 7 mile course and finished just ahead of another local runner, Joe Navas (38:29 for 3rd). Kevin Castille won the division in a scorching 34:01 (4:47 pace).
By Kevin Gray
Magill at the Amherst 10 Miler in 2012. Photo by Krissy Kozlosky.
Chris Magill, a native of Rhode Island, has been a fixture on the New England running scene for the good part of twenty years. A former Kinney Finalist (pre-cursor to Foot Locker and Nike Cross Nationals) while at St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Chris went on to have a successful career at Iona College and has run post collegiately for the BAA for the past 14 years. After being in a self-described “rut” for the last year, and now 39 years old (and father to three boys), I caught up with Magill as he recently returned to form with a 15:26 at the BAA 5k.
Q: Can you bring us through a brief history of your career, maybe touch on your proudest accomplishments?
A: In high school, it would have to be the 1989 Penn Relays, where St. Ray’s won the DMR championship of America, beating out the favored Jamaicans in front of 20,000 people. The Victory Lap was awesome. Besides that, it would have to have been placing 2nd in the 1990 New England Cross Country Championships and qualifying for the Kinney Championships in San Diego. Other accomplishments, while at Iona, would be making the IC4A finals in the 3,000 meters indoors in 1993 (I believe I placed 5th) and making the IC4A finals in the 1,500 meters outdoors. While running for the BAA, I am proud to say I won two road race Grand Prix titles and helped the team win Grand Prix team titles. If you look at the list of winners, I am proud to even be mentioned with them.
Q: After a brief stint at Old Dominion, you transferred to Iona College and ran for Mick Bryne. How was your experience at Iona?
A: My experience at Iona was great. Mick Byrne is a great coach and certainly helped me establish the PR’s that I have today. My transition from being the number one runner on the cross country team (at Old Dominion) to battling to be in the top five certainly helped me become a better collegiate runner. Qualifying as a team to the 1993 NCAA cross country meet (back when there were only 22 teams invited) was a highlight while at Iona. Also, I established friendships and had some good times on North Avenue with guys such as Martin McCarthy (13:42 for 5k), Mark Churchill (former Foot Locker Finalist from Vermont), Billy Myers (former Rhode Island standout) and Jermaine Hall. After I finished my undergrad, Mick brought me on to be the graduate assistant coach. This was a great experience as I recruited some top athletes including current Gaels coach Ricardo Santos.
Q: You also have been a fixture of the New England racing scene post collegiately for a good while now. You must have had some good battles with some of the Providence College guys; any races really stick out in your mind?
A: I have had some great battles with many athletes. In terms of battling against some Friars, I do remember the leadoff leg of the Championship of America 4×1500 where I battled David Healy (Providence) and Jason Bunston (Arkansas) for the lead. I ended up with a 3:47 split with Healy just ahead of me and Bunston may have had a second or so on me. I did compete with Keith Kelly on the track at a Northeastern Twilight meet for a lap or two. I ran 14:16 and I believe he ended up closer to 14 flat (I think he was only a freshmen). Also, at another Northeastern twilight meet I tried staying with Mark Carroll for as long as I could and ended up running 8:12. I believe he was near 8 flat. Other battles I have had included battling David Hinga on the track at the end of the Ro-Jack’s 8k to win the overall Grand Prix road race series.
Q: As time has progressed, I imagine you have had to change your training and racing a bit now that you are married and the father of three young boys. How do you balance a very demanding job along with all the responsibilities at home?
A: A typical training week for me includes a long run of 16 to 18 miles on Sunday with guys like Chris Lawrence, Kevin O’Neil, James Dandeneau, Matt Pelletier, and Pat Moulton. My job requires a lot of travel, so my most recent week was Monday: 8-9 mile run on the canal in Phoenix, AZ, Tuesday: 8-9 mile trail run in Portland, and then back to Cumberland for a track workout on Wednesday. I would end my week with 10 miles a day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on the roads of Rhode Island. As far a homelife balance, I have great support from my wife and kids and they understand that running is still an important part of my life.
Q: What kind of mileage are you hitting? How many workouts a week? Do you double?
A: I am all over the place with my mileage, but I try to look at monthly mileage as it is tough to get good mileage when I travel for work. To answer your question it ranges from 60 if it is a tough travel week up to high 70’s if there is no travel. I like to workout once a week and put in a tempo run during my Sunday long run. Long run is typically with 5 to 8 miles at 5:30 pace. I do not double.
Q: Favorite workout?
A: I am olde school, so I like the classic latter track workouts such as 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400.
Q: Do you wear a GPS every day? At what pace do you typically train?
A: I wear a Garmin that my wife bought me. I did not think I would like it as much as I do. I wear it everyday except for track workouts. I think it is especially helpful during long runs and tempo runs. Other than track workouts and long runs most of my runs are slightly under 7 minutes per mile.
Q: What are your goals for when you hit 40?
A: I have been thinking about getting back on the track to try and run a solid mile. I also have been thinking about running some National Masters Races such as the Master Cross Country Championship and some road championships (5k, Half Marathon). In terms of the mile, I would like to run the New Balance Master’s Mile at Reggie Lewis. I really have to sit down with Coach Pieroni to make sure I am focused on specific goals for 2013.
Q: Have you had any major injuries over the course of your career?
A: Yes, I had a stress fracture in high school and a torn meniscus a few years ago. Other than that I have had some hamstring issues which I deal with on occasion.
Q: How is your diet? Are you strict about what you eat, any beer or ice cream?
A: I am not strict about what I eat, but my wife is trying to get me on a healthier diet. She believes I can run faster if I eat healthier. I only drink beer in some social occasions. My favorite snack is Italian meats and cheeses. Believe it or not I am half Italian.
Q: What is your favorite race in New England?
A: There are many great races in New England such as the Mayor’s Cup Cross Country Championships and the BAA 5k, but I have to go with the Arnold Mills 4th of July Road Race in my hometown of Cumberland, RI. It is one mile from my house. Everyone in the community either runs the race or is there to watch the race (there is a parade after). If you win the race you are an instant local celebrity no matter how slow or fast you run.
Magill and training partner Chris Lawrence at the 2012 Norwood Turkey Trot. Photo by @kevbalance.
Q: How many more years do you think you will be able to beat CJ in a 5k? He is coming on fast and you’re getting old.
A: CJ , who will be 9 in June, is begging me to run 5k’s but I will not let him yet. He did run under 7 minutes for mile so it may not be long before he beats me. My other boys, Connor (6 years old) and Cooper (one year old) are also looking to knock me off the medal stand.