According to the criteria for induction into the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club Hall of Fame, a candidate should be someone who has earned extraordinary distinction as a member of HMRRC as well as a recognized leader of the local running community in performance and/or service. Further guidelines include (but are not limited to) noteworthy performance as a competitive runner at the local, regional, national, or international level; service to the club as an officer, staff writer, volunteer or race director; and service to the running community as a mentor, coach or officer in other running organizations. It is an absolute and unarguable fact that Chris Rush has not only met, but surpassed these exacting standards in their entirety during his long and distinguished running career. He, therefore, is being honored as one of this year’s inductees into the HMRRC Hall of Fame along with his longtime friend and fellow illustrious club member, Ed Thomas.
Having grown up in the St. Louis, MO area, Chris’ running venture was launched in high school after switching over from baseball to the track team. He excelled as a sprinter, and then went on to compete successfully at the collegiate level. Shying away from the longer distances, his feeling was that anything longer than 220 yds was “obscene,” even after he was recruited to run on a Missouri state championship mile relay team. Upon graduating from the University of St. Louis with a degree in history, he set off to pursue occupational and family obligations. Running and training were put on an indefinite hiatus. It was approximately twenty years later when Chris strapped on a pair of Sears sneakers (not even running shoes) and resumed his running career. Abandoning his earlier aversion to the longer distances, he got caught up in the running boom of the 70s and began setting some impressive personal records in distances from the 5K to the marathon. In fact, after turning fifty, he found that he was frequently winning his age group in local road races. But it was at about the same time that he rekindled his love for the track and began focusing on the shorter distances once again, “Where the pain is intense, but short-lived,” as Chris puts it. The results were impressive. Now at age 69, he has amassed a remarkable record of national age group performances to augment his more than 40 Empire State Games medals, several NY Senior Games awards, and various victories in the Indoor Dartmouth Relays and Indoor Brown Invitational. A glance at some of his national level performances includes a stellar 2:26.1 fourth place finish (60-64) in the 800m at the ’97 National Senior Games as well as the following efforts as a regular competitor at the USATF Masters Championships:
During 2005 he did not compete at either the indoor or outdoor Nationals. Instead, he traveled to the World Masters Championships in San Sebastian, Spain running 70. 83 in the 400, 2:40.78 in the 800 and 5:42.81 in the 1500. Over the years Chris has consistently been granted All-American Honors by USATF & National Masters based on age-graded performance standards. He has attained this status in distances from 400m to the mile, with his highest ranking coming in 2001 when he was ranked 9th in the world at the indoor 800m.
While his individual athletic performances are certainly impressive, it is his service to the HMRRC and running community as a whole that has had the most profound impact upon his fellow runners. Since becoming a member of HMRRC over 25 years ago, he has served in all the major offices including secretary, vice-president, and president. He has also participated in the club’s Scholarship Committee, headed up the Race Committee as its chair, designed the popular Labor Day 5K course in Central Park, written a variety of articles for the Pace Setter, organized club bus trips, directed a plethora of club races, and has been a perennial volunteer at a host of club running events over the years. In recognition of his lengthy and dedicated service, one of the honors bestowed upon him that he most values was being chosen as the recipient of the HMRRC’s 1990 Distinguished Service Award.
Probably one of his most challenging and high-profile efforts was that of race director of the Stockade-athon from 1992-97. Building on the foundation of his predecessors and the reputation of the race, Chris was directly instrumental in bringing the National Masters 15K Championship to this event in 1993 and 1994, enabling it to benefit from national exposure and introducing many runners over the age of forty to the distance for the first time. He also had the vision to introduce the Age-graded Division to the Stockade-athon, and was responsible for the current race logo being designed by the company where his daughter was employed. To this day, he continues to be heavily involved in the event. As Vince Juliano, the current Stockade-athon director puts it, “Chris has always been my mentor and someone I rely on in a time of need. He has race knowledge and experience that I value. Most of all, Chris is balanced and understands the sport of running from many points of view. Whether it be as a track athlete, a road race director, a competitor, a team member, a USATF official, or a club member...Chris finds a way to offer sensible advice and sound judgment to further the sport of running.”
Aside from his HMRRC duties, he is also the founder of the current Tendonitis Track Club, one of this area’s first USATF Masters Track and Field organizations. In addition, he serves as a consultant to those who are interested in putting on new running events and is an annual volunteer at the Freihofer’s Run for Women. Another aspect of Chris’ involvement in the running community is as a certified NYS High School and USATF official. He can, therefore, be found on any given day officiating at one of the area’s many track, road, and cross-country events. He has been and continues to be extremely active in the local Adirondack Association of USA Track and Field. Serving as secretary of the organization for the past two years, he has just moved up to the presidency, taking over the reins from the inimitable George Regan.
Lest one views Chris’ active participation in the running world as relegating him to being a one dimensional person, a deeper look into this individual is in order. As is true of many active and vibrant people, his interests are quite varied. For twenty years he has been a member of the Schenectady-based choral group called the Octavo Singers, putting on concerts and performances around the area. He also, over the past several years, has been part of a small group of bikers who have planned and implemented an annual bicycle trek over various parts of the USA. These trips average about 500 miles each with the longest being 700 miles, and incorporate a variety of terrain and American culture. Recently retired from the NYS Department of Health as Director of the Bureau of Intergovernmental Affairs, his hope is to pursue his passion for these and other healthy pursuits, along with his wife, Patricia and their two grown children.
Upon reflection of his past and present accomplishments, it seems totally appropriate that Chris Rush be inducted into the prestigious HMRRC Hall of Fame. He is one of a small group of unique persons who have distinguished themselves as both an outstanding competitor and yet an extremely service-oriented athlete. His personal running achievements, along with his high level of contribution to the running community render him truly worthy of this very special honor. Congratulations, Chris!