For those of you who don’t know him, Chas Webb is just one
more wild and crazy guy.
He first moved to Chattanooga in 2005 to go to school at UTC
where he earned his degree in civil engineering in 2010. He’s now gainfully employed by Hamilton
County as a project designer for the sewer system.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the 27-year-old
fellow, who came here from New Canaan, Connecticut “to escape some long, cold
This guy’s also a pretty good runner and he’s gotten totally
involved in the Chattanooga Track Club as he was the president last year, but
the start of his running career wasn’t something very spectacular.
“Golf was my only sport at the time, but my Dad basically
forced me to start running. He told me I
was a pretty skinny kid and thought I might make a pretty good runner. I went out for cross country as a freshman in
high school. I was really slow at first
as couldn’t even run a mile without walking.
I got better and had a PR of 18:18 for 5K as a senior,” Webb said
Wednesday afternoon while relaxing in the lobby of the downtown YMCA.
He’s been running ever since.
“I won the Runner of the Year for my age group in 2008 and
earned a cash prize of 50 dollars. At
the time, the club was looking for a race director for the Chattanooga
Chase. As a way of saying thank you to
the club, I agreed to do it, now knowing what was involved in being a race
director,” he said with a smile.
He’s been the race director for that popular 8K event that’s
held every May in Riverview. The first
year was quite a test as he was faced with a major dilemma shortly before the
race was to start.
Most of you who have run this race know that you have to
climb Minnekahda, probably the most famous hill in Chattanooga at the midpoint
in the race. As you start down the other side, there’s a gate across the road
to keep out strange cars as this really isn’t a public thoroughfare.
The gate was closed that first day Webb was in charge.
“The police called to tell me it was closed, but we were
able to get it reopened, although it delayed the start by about 15
minutes. Now we have a gatekeeper to
make sure it stays open on race day. I
ran that race in 2008, but I’m kind of glad I don’t have to run it now that I’m
the race director,” he laughed.
“It’s been a great experience. I try to add something new every year to make
it better,” he nodded.
There has been an incredible amount of growth in the
Chattanooga Track Club in recent years and some amazing things have evolved in
that time. Webb was right in the middle
of it all.
“Sherilyn Johnson asked me if I’d run for president and I
agreed to do so. She’s really good at
getting people to do things, but I took over midway through 2012 as Bill Moran
had been the president for 18 months.
That was one of the best years of my life. We made the decision to hire Stacey Malecky
as our club manager and seeing that whole process evolve was rewarding. Helping Chattanooga earn the designation of a
“Runner Friendly Community” was also quite an experience.
“The press conference for that announcement was the day
before the club’s award banquet, so I was on cloud nine that weekend,” he
smiled at the memory.
Now that his term as president has passed, he’s still really
active as the Vice President of Membership.
He’s doing something right as club membership has grown 46 percent and
is now over 800. He hopes and plans to
have that number over 1,000 by the end of the year.
“It’s nice to take a more laidback approach to club
activity, but I never wanted to settle for second in anything,” he explained.
Chas has assumed another role at CTC races, one that really
plays into his most intense passion.
“Sherilyn knew I was into music and asked if I would play
some at the triathlon volunteer party.
We were able to buy a mixer and a scratcher, so I play music at most of
our events now. Most people like to hear
good music, so it’s the best of both worlds for me as I love music and running,”
Webb also dresses the part as he puts on a wig that he used
as part of a Halloween costume. That
just enhances his role as musical entertainer.
“I’m an 80s rocker and a big Journey fan. That wig just adds some flair and it helps
people laugh when they see it. I’ve had
some folks who thought it was my real hair,” he continued.
Webb used to run about 30 races a year, but has developed Achilles
tendonitis. He’s been to four different
physical therapists and has had continuous treatment, but the problem still
“Nobody seems to have an answer, but I don’t do nearly as
many races and I only run about 20 miles a week now,” he explained.
One of his favorite races is the Signal Mountain Pie Run, a
prediction 10K run that goes out along the brow and offers some of the best
scenery of any race on the track club schedule.
“First of all, the course is beautiful and you get a fresh
apple pie at the end. That’s pretty
cool. I run that race every year and I
won it in 2007 when I barely beat Joey Howe with a 36:57. That was a big moment for me, but that race
holds a special place in my heart,” he added.
Webb is also a marathoner with six of those long runs under
his belt. He’s completed four at
Chickamauga and two at Boston with a personal best of three hours, 19 seconds
at Chickamauga. His slowest time of 3:28
came at Boston on a day when he got dehydrated and collapsed at mile 21.
“The medical people gave me an IV and helped me feel
better. They were wanting me to go to
the medical tent, but I told them if I could walk, I was going to finish the
race. That stop delayed me at least 20
minutes,” he said.
While the Pie Run was his first win, he’s also been the
overall winner in two other races, including the Komen Race for the Cure 5K in
2009 with a time of 17:46 and the Gateway Bank 5K in 2007 with a 17:53.
“I signed up for the Chickamauga Marathon this morning, but
I haven’t told my physical therapist yet.
Chickamauga Park has always been one of my favorite places to run as I
love the battlefield. I’ve been able to
see both sides of running as an officer and as a participant. I now know that races don’t just happen
overnight,” he said with a serious tone.
While Webb is totally involved in his job and his work with
the track club, he also has another major event just around the corner.
“I’m getting married in October. My fiancée is Cristi Garner. We met in the track club and I asked her to
volunteer for the banquet committee. We
went to the RRCA National Convention at Spokane in May and that’s where I
proposed to her. She’s also a runner and
just a wonderful person,” Chas smiled.
He also has plans to go back to school where he wants to
complete his master’s degree. Golf still
gets some of his time as he used to have a 10 handicap.
“It was seven years ago today that I got my only hole in one
at a tournament in Albany, New York. It
was about 200 yards, so I still play every chance I get.
“We would also like to do some exploring out West and I’ve
always wanted to play at an open mike. I
play keyboard and even record some stuff, but I have my own recording studio at
home and I can get a little bit funky,” he concluded.
Chas Webb is really an interesting fellow with a lot of
diverse talent, including running. He’s
really been a positive influence with the Chattanooga Track Club and he’s
hoping to stay involved in the future.
So the next time you’re at a track club race and you see the
guy by the sound board with the goofy looking wig, go introduce yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
(This is the 24th in a series of features on
runners in the Chattanooga area. If you
know of someone who might make an interesting story, email John Hunt at