U instructor runs for Olympic glory

Chris Lunsford is a ‘U’ graduate and now teaches a track coaching class.

Mike Rose

It’s a long way from Minneapolis to Beijing, but University kinesiology instructor Chris Lundstrom attempted to run all the way there – sort of.

Lundstrom, who received a master’s in kinesiology at the University and now teaches part time, competed in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Saturday in New York, hoping to compete in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

The trial featured 133 racers competing for one of three spots on the 2008 Olympic team. Lundstrom finished in 37th place with a time of 2:19:21.

“It was not a great day for me; my legs never felt that good,” he said. “But I felt like I did the best that I could.”

Lundstrom said he started conservatively but picked up steam in the second half of the race. He said he was able to pass a lot of runners near the end.

“It felt good just coming home and finishing strong,” Lundstrom said.

The 31-year-old said he has been running long distance for 20 years. After being on the track and field team at Northfield High School, Lundstrom headed off to run for Stanford University.

After getting married in 2005, Lundstrom went back home when his wife, Taj, began her residency at the University’s medical school.

Deciding he wanted to further a career in track coaching, Lundstrom enrolled in the kinesiology master’s program at the University.

“Doing the program, I definitely learned some stuff that has helped me in my training,” he said.

From there, Lundstrom began to teach track coaching at the University. Currently, he teaches track and field coaching theory and skill development through the kinesiology department. He also coaches track at Como Park High School in St. Paul.

Mechanical engineering junior David Vande Walle took the course with Lundstrom last spring.

“He was very hands-on,” Vande Walle said. “It was like a mini track practice twice a week.”

Before the first day of class, Vande Walle said he didn’t know who Lundstrom was. He decided to research Lundstrom and found that he had done well in various marathons across the country. Learning that Lundstrom was vying for an Olympic bid was icing on the cake.

“That’s just awesome,” Vande Walle said. “It’s cool to know a guy from here who’s done well.”

He also said Lundstrom’s enthusiasm rubbed off on the students.

“The guy just really likes what he does,” Vande Walle said. “He enjoyed being here and it was a really fun class.”

After finishing this marathon – his third of the year – Lundstrom said a break was in order.

“I promised myself when I finished this race I would not think about what I’m going to do for the next few weeks,” he said. “I’m going to get myself good and recovered.”

Phil Lundin, head coach for the University men’s track and field team, said long distance running requires a high amount of discipline.

“It’s a lifestyle,” he said. “You have less margin of error.”

Serious marathon runners might run 100-hour weeks in training, Lundin said. On top of that, he said a regular sleep schedule and a healthy diet are a must.

“I have a lot of respect for those people,” Lundin said.

When his break is over, Lundstrom said he could foresee himself competing in more marathons.

“Nothing is going to stop me,” he said with a chuckle.

Lundstrom might also be spending more time on campus in the coming years.

“I really enjoy (teaching) a lot,” Lundstrom said. “I definitely would like to do some more teaching, for sure.”