This time of year it's always nice to branch out a little and interview people that mix it up a little more when it comes to aerobic activities. This issue of Running Minnesota takes us back across the border and into Wisconsin again. This time we venture to Hayward, home of the American Birkebeiner (Birkie) and the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. Given that those are Scott Chapin's two favorite races, it no surprise that the 38-year-old River Falls native moved there after college. With the success that Scott has achieved running, biking and skiing, triathletes all over the Midwest are thankful that he "swims like granite".
First, for the Minnesotans that may not be familiar with your name, what are some of your running, biking, and skiing accolades?
18th place Twin Cities Marathon, 3rd or 4th Place Grandma’s Half, 16th place at Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival (2008), 28th Place American Birkebeiner...I have done hundreds of races.
Rank the following; swimming, biking, running, and skiing. Why?
Biking, Skiing, Running, Swimming. I used to be a “pure” runner, but I started skiing and biking for cross training about 14 years ago. I still enjoy doing running races, but mountain biking and skiing are more enjoyable due to the speeds. I swim like granite.
Which activity did you take up first and when did you get involved with the others?
I started running in 9th grade and ran in college at UW-Eau Claire. I started skiing and biking my senior year in college. I did the Birkie when I was just finishing up college and became hooked. Mountain biking was something I was “dabbling” in. I did a few races in my early 20’s and then started really getting into it in my early 30’s.
With so many different aerobic activities how do you choose and what kind of training plan do you follow?
I use the same general format for each sport. I try to peak for about a month for each sport, when my most important/biggest races are. It's a pretty simple plan that includes a long base building period with weekly hard efforts. The harder efforts become more of a focus towards the peak period. Then, I will cut my mileage and really concentrate on the hard speed/strength day. We do weekly time trials in the summer on the mountain bike, which really helps with strength, fitness, and bike handling skills. Same deal in the winter with skiing.
What are your goals for 2009?
Just try to be as fast as last year. I'm 38 years old now, and that is all I can hope for.
Will we see you at any Minnesota races?
Yes, City of Lakes Loppet, Pepsi Challenge, Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, a few running events in Duluth. And probably one or two mountain bike MN Series races and a couple duathlons,
What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
My strengths are longer races. I am not much of a sprinter and have trouble with races that go out too quickly.
What are your running PRs?
5K - 14:48 (long time ago)
10K - 31:00 (long time ago)
Half - 1:09
Marathon - 2:25
What is your fondest athletic memory?
Probably my first marathon, which was Twin Cities. I was 23 years old. It was also the Master’s World Championships. I was running with a Mexican, Polish, and Russian master’s runner. The announcer said as I was finishing “here comes the top unseeded runner.” I didn’t know they were talking about me until my college coach told me. 18th overall, 9th American. I really couldn’t believe it.
Do you have a favorite event and what makes it so special?
Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. It is a fun atmosphere from start to finish. You have to experience it to totally understand what makes it so special.
Do you have any advice for someone that may be thinking about taking up skiing?
Get some lessons right away! It is much easier to learn the correct techniques, than it is trying to change your habits later.
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running, biking and/or skiing?
I wish I knew how to control my asthma symptoms and that “carbo loading” can actually harm performances. I did not know how to “eat” for marathon distance races.