NAME: Chris Northrup
RESIDENCE: Winchester, VA
AGE: 51
FAMILY: Spouse: Robin, Kids: Chris, Jr. (23), Thomas (20), James (17), Patrick (14)
OCCUPATION: Director Hi-Five Sports Camp

Intro: Chris and I have been battling it out on the local race courses for a couple years. We seem to go back and forth beating each other and have formed a friendly rivalry. I know it has made me a stronger runner. I decided to find out what makes Chris tick. Maybe learn some of his tricks so I can get a competitive edge.

How long have you been running?
Competitively since 8th grade

What are your proudest running accomplishments?

  • 1:53 – 800 meters at Kenyon College, 1985
  • 15:42 – 3 mile Turkey Trot, 1989
  • 3:01 – New York City Marathon, 1992
  • 36:56 – Apple Blossom 10K when I was 50, 2013
  • 2:11 – 800 meters age 50, 2013
Running Dad Chris Northrup

Running Dad Chris Northrup

What drives you to continue running?
The combination of being able to compete, run with friends or alone, in order to feel good and enjoy friendships while moving, is wonderful. It is also for mental health as much as physical health. When I was 44, I had major reconstructive knee surgery and was told I would never run again. I feel very fortunate that rehabilitation exercises have enabled me to come back.

How often do you run?
3 or 4 days a week. I am a cross trainer with cycling, swimming, and weight lifting. My knee can’t take the pounding on a consistent basis.

What are your future running goals?
I hope to run in Winston Salem, NC this winter in the Indoor USATF National Championships. If I can get in great shape, I have a shot at winning the 800 in the 50-54 age group. Going to Nice, France for the World Championships in track would be wonderful, but the cost is out of my budget right now.

Does the rest of your family run?
Robin does jazzercise and strength training. Chris, Jr. runs and is training for a marathon. Thomas was a swimmer in high school and does Yoga and bikes. James plays football and basketball. Patrick is the biggest runner. He has won the Shenandoah Valley Runners Winter Series the last two years for his age group and two Apple Blossom kid miles.

What running accomplishments of your kids are you most proud of?
I’m just happy they have all run and seem committed to good health habits even if it isn’t directly related to running.

Do you struggle to find time to run and balance family and career?
I make exercise a priority. It helps my productivity and my relationships in all areas. I can’t imagine not doing it.

What is the biggest challenge of being a runner?
I have always run overweight. I was as heavy as 210 but now 175. I still think dropping 10 more pounds would help me be faster. I just like to eat more than lose the weight. I do eat more fruit than I used to and count calories and use some Weight Watcher diet tips.

Any advice for other running dads or moms?
Make a commitment that you can manage and run slower than you think you need to. I am not sure why people stop running, but I believe they think they have to run faster than they need to. I run many of miles around 10 minutes a mile. My speed comes from intervals, cycling, and weight training. I find it easier to run with someone most of the time, but I like running by myself, as well. The baby jogger came out about 1990 when my oldest son was born — the timing couldn’t have been better. I had both a single and double jogger. Everyone was happy; I got my run, my kids enjoyed the ride, and my wife got a break. In those days, I was one of the first people to race with them when there was no rule against it. I prefer running in the woods or on country roads. The fewer the cars and people, the better. We are fortunate to have both in this area; it was one motivating factor for me to move out here from Washington. If running isn’t your thing, then find another means to get exercise.