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Running With Passion – An Interview With Chris Tokarz

chris-tokarz-RR09-awardI was fortunate enough to be able to get in contact and interview fellow Texas resident Chris Tokarz, the female winner of the 2009 Rockledge Rumble 50 km trail run.

Chris is a fairly newcomer to the trail and road racing scene but she is not letting her inexperience stop her from running past nearly everyone within her sights, especially on the dirt.

To put it simply, Chris loves to run.

Enjoy the interview.

Rockledge Rumble

[EB] Congratulations on a great day at the Rockledge Rumble 50km. First female and third overall is impressive. How would you describe the day? Any big highs or lows?

This was my first race at Rockledge, and my first time at Grapevine Lake during the Day (the only other race was the night prediction run in August).

It was perfect running weather, and super motivating to begin the morning with the tribute to America’s Veterans.

The race itself was harder than I anticipated, perhaps it was the extra miles at the end.  The Aid Stations volunteers definitely kept me motivated…updating me on my time and the location of other runners.  I felt very well supported.

[EB] I noticed you didn’t carry any water with you during the race. Did that ever become an issue for you with aid-stations sometimes four miles apart?

In general, I start taking aid after mile 10, then something at each station thereafter. I memorize the course logistics so I can fully anticipate and prepare my “plan” for the run accordingly. I also pay close attention to WHAT is at the Aid stations, I am a big fan of HEED, which is what the race provided, so there was no need to carry.

[EB] You were also wearing an iPod. What music were you listening to?

Podrunner downloads…they are free and have an hour of a nice steady beat…I have seven hours of 175-180 beats per minute…no words, so there is minimal distraction (just enough to keep me from being lonely!).


chris-tokarz-rockledge-rumb[EB] What is your athletic background and what inspired you to start running on both the road and trail?

I come from a family of wrestlers and soccer players…we didn’t even have cross country or track at the schools I went to!  I played Division 1 soccer in College, and upon graduation I realized it is really hard to play soccer by yourself, so I started running.

I have only been entering “races” in the past two years.  At first road races, now I run both trails and roads.   My first marathon was September 2008, since then I have run 7 marathons and 5 50K’s.


[EB] What does a typical training week look like for you? What type of running volume do you average (under 50, 50-70, 70+)?

I average about 70-90 miles a week (especially when you tack on a weekend 50k!). Plus I teach Spinning class at the local gym. I also try to do strength training three times a week (step machine, free weights, ab work).

[EB] How would you describe your nutritional lifestyle? What are some of your favorite foods?

I am a vegetarian (because I can not cook, not for moral reasons!), and I tend to stick to basic fruits and veggies.  I try to eat a lot of egg whites for protein, Special K Protein Plus Cereal, and dried fruit.

Actually my diet is very boring!


[EB] Your times have significantly gotten faster across distances in the last couple years. What are your thoughts as to why?

The support I get from my friends, both my road running and trail running friends. They encourage me, and help me keep focus. WE all travel together and it makes the races a lot of fun.

[EB] What is your current favorite race distance and running surface? Why?

I like running trails, and because I seem to do well at “outlasting” other runners, the 50K seems to be where I perform the best.

[EB] It appears you like to race a lot on both the road and trail. Athlinks displayed 25 races for the year so far. Do you focus on a particular race? What kind of approach to recovery do you follow to be ready again to race in a fairly short amount of time?

I listen to my body as much as possible and cross train all the time.  I keep running clothes in the car and try to run in a different location every day.

Between races I rarely count the miles and don’t pay much attention to my pace.  Just get time on my feet.  I also run with hand weights, which helps teach my body to use more of my core muscles and distribute the “work load” of running.

[EB] Earlier this year you participated in the Tampa Bay Gasparilla 15km, 5km, and marathon. You ran all three! This is true ultra runner decision. Please share with us your thoughts on this weekend experience.

That was a true challenge! My Grandmother asked me to come for a visit, so I just combined it with this great running opportunity!  My parents even flew in from New York, and my Mom ran the 5K with me!  It was a special weekend, and I was thrilled to place second overall in the Three Race Challenge.

That is when I realized that I could push myself beyond the marathon distance.  Running is as much mental as physical.  You have to DECIDE that you can do it, then train accordingly.  There are no magic potions or pills, just hard work, dedication, and always PASSION!


chris-tokarz-RR09-2[EB] What have been some of the fondest memories for the year?

  • My Mom and I finishing the 5K in Boston (pre-marathon race).
  • Winning the Taturs Run, man that was hard!
  • Meeting the NTTR folks, and realizing that I am not WEIRD!
  • The gunshot to finish the hardway 6 hour trail race.

Lessons Learned:

[EB] Have there been any lessons learned along the way in your personal running and ultrarunning journey?

  • You will have bad races, your not ALWAYS going to feel awesome…and that just makes the good ones even sweeter!
  • Find a knowledgeable doctor who understands endurance athletes.


[EB] Do you have any sponsors that have supported you in your running journey?

Adrenaline Bike Shop, Denison Texas, a great place that unfortunately closed last year!

Going Forward:

[EB] Have you looked at your 2010 season? Any new races or challenges planned?

Of Course!

Plus random Dallas Running Club and Thruston and Run On! Races…

The Athens Big Fork I heard was very challenging and the Cross Timbers 50 mile are the biggest challenges I have planned thus far.  Considering a 100 miles later in the year..but no solid plans yet.

[EB] Did I mention Chris likes to run? Wow, what a schedule!

I would like to give a special thanks to Chris for this interview and I hope you all enjoyed hearing from an athlete within our region.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

(Photos: Courtesy of Mike Potter)

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

One Response to “Running With Passion – An Interview With Chris Tokarz”

  1. […] Chris Tokarz was the female winner of the 2009 Rockledge Rumble 50 km trail run and is interviewed about her training and ultra marathon race strategy […]