Chas Webb Brings New Energy To Chattanooga Track Club

Former CTC President Still Involved In CTC Success

Thursday, August 7, 2014 - by John Hunt

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 winters.”

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,” he said.

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 exists.

“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 nomarathonmoose@comcast.net) 


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