Besides achieving a PR, what do you think would be the goal of most runners? Meeting awesome people? Traveling to cool places to run? Relieving stress? Probably each of these are true. When all is said and done though, it is likely that a long and (mostly) healthy running career would be a simple objective that every one of us would like to achieve. In our local running communities, those who have been in the game for a while are the ones we look to for advice, for a look into how to train and take care of yourself. We might give the “old-timers” a hard time, but truly, they inspire us. When it comes to competitive running, few in the state of Nebraska have been at it for as long as Craig Christians.
Having been present for multiple running booms, Craig started his competitive career at Wilmar High School in Minnesota in the late 1970s. From there his training shoes took him to Brookings, South Dakota, on to Ames, Iowa, and Jefferson City, Missouri. Finally settling in Bellevue, Nebraska, Craig has been a mainstay on the Nebraska running scene since 1989. He first shows up on the Lincoln Track Club results finishing the 1992 Statehood Day Run in 59:42. From there he has completed numerous Lincoln races ranging from 3k to the half marathon.
His role has not only been as a runner. He has spent numerous seasons coaching young, developing athletes. Starting as a volunteer at Bellevue West High School, moving into a paid assistant role, and then as a head coach. From there he spent some time at Platteview High School as an assistant. He is now the head distance coach at Bellevue University in Omaha. Add on to that his role as a race director and spreading the good word of running has been as much a part of Craig’s life as racing.
A trademark of Craig has been his consistency as a competitive runner over the years. His age-graded results have been outstanding, but he’s also shown true fire among his peers, even leading up to the present day. This past summer he returned to his college days in Ames for the USATF Masters Track and Field Championships. A third-place showing in the 5k was just the beginning. Craig represented Nebraska on the national stage with a title in the 3k steeplechase. Truly remarkable.
Speaking from personal experience, the lasting effect or impression of Craig on younger runners is that maybe the most important thing in running is to show up every day (or as often as possible) and get something in. Race with what you’ve got on that day and give your absolute best possible effort. If you can do that, you can have no regrets. The Lincoln Track Club is honored to recognize Craig Christians with a 2019 Distinguished Achievement Award.
Presented by Brian Wandzilak
Photos courtesy of Craig Christians