A New Look and the 2014 Chicago Marathon

When I decided to leave Athens back in 2011 these things were all true:

  • • I would be quitting a job that I liked, forfeiting the salary and benefits that came with it.
  • • I was moving to Eugene, but I didn’t have a job or a place to live.
  • • I wanted to be a “professional” runner but had no contract or any real viable way to make a living at this new career choice.

    For all of the reasons above, plus countless others, you can probably understand why when I called my parents to tell them my grand plan I was greeted with a silence that would make a noiseless church congregation seem like a Metallica concert. I mean, crickets…

    Through the silence coming from the other end of the phone, I could hear the deafening sound of my Mom’s questions and concerns screaming aloud in her head. I took a huge risk, which is why bringing life to this project I’ve been working on for the past few months gives me such happiness and pride. Maybe more than any actual race. You see, this new website represents so much more than just a new look; it symbolizes the evolution of a dream into a career. It’s one of those entrepreneurial “I made it moments!” and it feels awesome!

    I truly believe that I have the two best jobs in the world: professional runner and industry outreach coordinator for the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. For the better part of the past year, I’ve been immersed around people who have a passion for sport business, sport marketing, and the power of branding. In addition to working with and learning from two of the best professional mentors anyone could ask for – Paul Swangard and Whitney Wagoner – another perk of my job is having the opportunity to listen to top industry execs speak to our MBA students.

    Much of this redesigned website is a byproduct of my day job. I’ve spent countless hours thinking about how professional runners – the collective we – need to do a better job running our businesses (no pun intended). Connecting with fans. Adding value to sponsors and races. Being ambassadors for running and a healthy lifestyle. Building a brand. All of these elements are all vitally important to professionalizing our sport in today’s business world. Running fast simply doesn’t move the needle.

    Pulling this together in time of Sunday's race kind of feels like Christmas morning - thanks, Boise!

    Pulling this all together in time of Sunday’s race kind of feels like Christmas morning – thanks, Boise!

    None of this would be possible without the person behind everything you see here today. To my friend, Jenny Ryan: thank you for making this thing a reality, and for teaching me how to write a little code – nerd alert! As I learned, building a website and then transitioning all of the old material to a new site is a task of marathon proportions. She did yeoman’s work making the launch of this thing prior to the Chicago possible! There’s no doubt she’s tired of getting emails and texts from me. We hope you like it!

    Speaking of Chicago, there’s a little race happening this Sunday. I guess you probably want some info on this weekend’s long run/workout: 26.2 miles @ marathon effort…

    Sunday's forecast

    Sunday’s forecast

    If you’ve followed some of my previous posts, then you know that everything has gone according to plan with my training these past few months. The goal of any training block is to make it to the start line healthy and fit. Well…mission accomplished. But all of that work can be for not if the weather doesn’t cooperate on race day. What’s the forecast for Sunday? Cloudy, temps in the upper 40s, and light winds. You couldn’t draw it up any better.

    I’m fortunate to be healthy and fit, the weather is shaping up to be ideal, and there will be a slew of guys to run with. Not to take anything away from any of the other fall marathons, but the Chicago Marathon race staff has put together the best, and deepest, field of American marathoners competing this fall. The race will also probably end up as the last time a field of US runners this good square off prior to the 2016 Olympic Trials in February. With everything coming together as such, I feel like I’m walking into a casino to play some blackjack with house money! There will be no excuses.

    How to follow along on Sunday:

    Start time is set for 7:30 a.m. (CST)

    Everyone’s favorite race day quipster, Aadam Soorma, will once again be providing live updates from the streets of Chicago through my Twitter account (@cleonrun) on Sunday morning. This is all entirely contingent on him surviving Homecoming in Athens on Friday and Saturday night – Go Bobcats!

    You can sign up for free athlete tracking here. I’ll be bib #19.

    If you’d like to watch the race, NBC 5 Chicago will provide complete live online coverage of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on race day from 7 – 11 a.m. More coverage here: nbcchicago.com


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    Comments (5)

    • Avatar

      Big T


      It’s been a pleasure to watch you go from basketball tournaments in the driveway to professional runner! And you and I both know that this is where momentum pays off. Keep up the good work because the only place to go is up! Hope Chicago is your best yet! And, with a nod to your mom, Beeee focused, beee fast, beee a winner!!!


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      so excited for race day craig and for the record I have always thought you were a BIG deal…even when we couldn’t find a killer bee uniform small enough to fit you:)


    • Avatar

      Tom Reitmann


      Go get ‘em Craig !!


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      Fritz Pier


      All your family is behind you. Go out and do your BEST…


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      Congratulations on the amazing performance on Sunday. I wish I could have seen more of the race but I was busy tearing down the start line. If you could find the time I would love to catch up and hear about how life is in Oregon. My email is noah.howkins[at]gmail[dot]com.


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