Meet Chris Polito!
1) What makes you a “Trail Gangsta?”
I go hard on the dirt! In all seriousness though, I just won’t give up. I have the type of relationship with the mountains and the trail that allows me to shred terrain while also maintaining respect for nature and what it gives back to me.
2) How and when did you get into trail running?
I ran a “Color Run” with my wife in early 2015 and she practically had to drag me there. I despised running and ended up feeling great and was instantly intrigued. I spent the next two years competing in Obstacle Racing until I ran my first trail race at the Javelina Jangover in September of 2017. Obstacle Racing lost its lore and I’ve been competing in trail races ever since. There is something special about only needing shoes, shorts and some water to hit the trails.The minimalist aspect of trail running appeals heavily to me.
3) Do you consider running to be your therapy? If so, what aspect is most therapeutic?
I absolutely consider running therapy but not only solo, also with groups. There are days when I just need to zone out by myself to clear my head and then there are days when that primal instinct to be surrounded by a group kicks in and I hit the trails with the local gangstas!
4) Can you tell us about bttt.run? What is their mission?
“Bigger Than The Trail” is an organization that uses trail running to address mental health. I think about the concept of struggles in my everyday life and the lives of the people around me every time I’m out on the trails alone in my head. I believe that through companies like this, we can help people deal with mental health in a positive and healthy way rather than treating them like they have a problem and making it a negative issue.
5) You have two kids that join you on the trails. Do they enjoy running? Could you see them running competitively in the future?
I’ve been taking my kids on the trail since they started walking. I think just being outside on the trail gives humans the opportunity to connect with nature and helps families connect with their kids while also teaching a healthy lifestyle. I can already tell that my son is a natural athlete in any activity he does. I also don’t want to push him to the point that he stops enjoying it. My daughter on the other hand, well for now, we bribe her sometimes!
6) In your opinion, how young is too young for a child to run an ultra marathon?
It’s hard to put a number on it, but there are certain developmental issues that do concern me with kids running ultras. What are underdeveloped kids doing to their bodies that could cause damage in the future? For now, my kids are young enough that I don’t need to worry about this but when the time comes, I’ll have to visit this again.
7) When you’re feeling uninspired to lace up your shoes, how do you motivate yourself to get out the door?
I used to have the mindset that it was ok if I skipped a run and that at the end of the day it didn’t matter. I now realize that there are thousands of people all over the world that have much bigger hurdles to conquer than my minor issue of making it out the door for a run. I feel extremely lucky that I am healthy enough to be able to spend time outside and see the towering mountains, and smell the air, and hear all of the sounds that nature has to offer. Some people will never know what that feels like. That is what I think about when I need motivation.
8) What makes the trail running community different from other communities that you’ve been a part of?
Trail runners are the perfect people for me. I never quite fit in anywhere as far back as I can remember. Trail runners are dedicated to their sport and the lifestyle but also don’t take things too seriously. That’s the perfect balance for me. Trail runners will crush a course and then spend the rest of the day around a fire drinking beers and laughing with like-minded people. Family Is important. It all goes back to the primal need for community.
9) What is your favorite trail to run?
This may be the hardest question of them all! Locally, I can’t deny any trail in the Superstition Mountains. The beauty of those mountains right in the middle of the desert is unmatched. If I’m headed up north, I may say Kendrick’s Peak.
10) What’s your next big race, adventure, etc.?
My next race is Black Canyon 100k which I DNF’d last year at mile 50! Then I have Whiskey Basin 88k, followed by Kendall Mountain/Silverton Alpine which all leads up to my “A Race” of the year: The Leadville 100!!