Chris Bowie is a senior distance runner for Bethesda Chevy Chase High School. Not only has Bowie made a name for himself as one of the top distance runners in the county, he is also the top returning runner in the state 3A classification and recently earned All-American status by finishing 2nd in the 5k at the USATF Junior Olympics in a time of 15:49.89. Despite the success that he had in his junior year, he is still motivated to achieve all that he can in his senior year, knowing full-well the obstacles that lie ahead. Here he describes some of his best races, explains how he uses summer track to help prepare for cross country season, and sets the record straight about him and that other B-CC superstar.
MoCoRunning: This past year you really emerged as an elite distance runner, especially in cross country! When and why did you first pick up the wonderful sport of distance running?
Bowie: Before I tell this small story, I'm going to surprise the running world by confessing that I never had intended distance running to be my sporting career in high school. I had planned to play football, basketball, and lacrosse in high school. It was my dad who convinced me to use cross country as training for basketball to keep me in shape. He was a sprinter in college, and he thought I would be a sprinter for outdoor track. Well, it turns out I made varsity as number three on our time trials in my freshman year. I decided I could get better, so I dropped basketball and lacrosse to do indoor and outdoor track to help in training for better times in the next cross country season.
MoCoRunning: Obviously your success this past year has a good deal to do with the training you put in over the summer. How do you approach summer training and what type of work does it entail?
Bowie: I approach summer training by working on what I need to improve, and every year to me, it's my kick. I usually try to practice twice a day. In the morning I train with my B-CC teammates Elias, Alex, and Dylan so I can keep my base up. In the evening I train with my Hummingbird Track Club teammates doing mostly speed workouts to help get a faster kick and more speed during a race.
MoCoRunning: Just a couple weeks ago you competed in the Junior Olympics and ran a fantastic time of 15:49 for the 5000m on the track, finishing second. Congratulations!!! How does summer track either help or hinder your summer training?
Bowie: I must say it helps a lot, because without the summer workouts I wouldn't progress as fast as I wanted with my times over each season. It can be tiring sometimes running track three times a year, but I just think of it as a way to improve my distance running ability.
MoCoRunning: Last cross country season, Linganore's Kyle Ryan dominated the 3A West Regional race, running by himself with you a distant second. Most people expected a similar scenario at the state championship a week later, but you surprised everyone by sticking with him for most of the race, letting him slip away at the end. What were you thinking and what did you do to prepare yourself for that race in the week leading up to the state championship.
Bowie: After Ryan's dominating performance, I thought that states would have the same results, with the rest of the field behind Tousley, Ryan, and me. I went into the two weeks before states with the mindset that I could possibly challenge Ryan and fly under the radar to take the title from him. After week one, I still had no idea what I was going to do to beat him and I needed to get pumped for states, so I decided to run an annual neighborhood 5k and won with some of the same dominant force that Kyle Ryan had. I took practice lightly during the next week and finally the day of states came. Once I was up to the line, I had in my mind that I was going to go out fast and try to leave Ryan to a catch up game. This strategy might have lost me the state title, but I came away with the fastest time in MOCO and was able to give Ryan a challenging race.
MoCoRunning: You are the top returnee for the 3A State championship and people have listed your team as a possible contender for the team title. What goals have you set for yourself individually and for your team this upcoming season?
Bowie: The goals that I have set for myself are winning the counties, regionals, and, most important, states. I've wanted redemption on the counties course since my slip that cost me third. In states, though, I will be the top returnee. I know I still need to look out for Elias, Allera (Wilde Lake), and the rest of the field that will be up for the challenge. Team-wise, we're looking to contend for the county title since it's a tougher field than regions and states will be. If we can come away with the team title at the counties, we feel it will give us great momentum going into the regionals and states where we can bring it home to B-CC.
MoCoRunning: As a 3A runner, if there was one aspect you could change about the Maryland post season competetions, what would it be and why?
Bowie: The one aspect that I would probably change about the competitions would be the events that are run. I think there should be something other than running on a track since we race so much during the year. There should be duathalons or a soccer tournament...just to throw some ideas out there.
MoCoRunning: You and Elias Tousley are quite possibly the best 1-2 (or 2-1) punch in the entire state of Maryland. How does having a teammate of his ability effect you positively (or negatively) and do you ever feel overshadowed by his presence?
Bowie: Wow, if there's a negative to having a teammate like Elias, then I sure haven't found it yet. We are like MJ and Pippen, Superman and Batman, Ricky Bobby and Carl Johnson "Shake&Bake baby, Shake&Bake." Seriously, Elias challenges me whether we're running during a workout or in a race. I will be lucky if I can find another teammate like him in college that I can train and run with.
MoCoRunning: You have had some pretty incredible races up to this point in your career. What is the one feat you are most proud of accomplishing?
Bowie: There are many races that I could include as my favorite, but since I can only talk about one I'm going to go with my most recent 5K at the Junior National Olympics at Morgan State University. This was the nationals, one of the biggest stages one can achieve to run in and I was able to come away as an All-American with my 2nd place finish. This was one of my toughest races as I lead the second pack for the majority of the race and for the first time in my running career I had to bend over to catch my breath at the end of the race.
MoCoRunning: With all the infinite wisdom you have gained from running, what is one piece of advice you would like to pass on to your fellow runners?
Bowie: Run every race like it's your last. Those are the most important words I've gained from running. I want to know by the end of a race that I gave it my all even if I didn't finish in first.
MoCoRunning: Who are two people (one runner and one every day person) that you look up to as role models and why?
Bowie: Jesse Owens, though a sprinter, is who I think of as a role model because of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin where the Germans were expected to dominate. Owens single handedly dismantled the onslaught of German athletes in each of his events.
An every day person that I look up to is my Dad; he has been to every race or other sporting event since I was a kid. Watching me run is where he gets the most joy because it brings him back to his high school and college years. It's going to be a challenge for him to watch all my races in college depending on where I go, but I hope he can make some of them.
MoCoRunning: Besides running, what do you do to pass your time? Do you have a summer job or any unique hobbies?
Bowie: Most of the time you can find me as a lifeguard at Bethesda Pool saving lives. It's ironic since I hate swimming, but I like money and the pool is down the street from my house. So it's convenient and works well with my running schedule. The night life is where I usually spend time with friends watching movies, going to parties, playing video games, and all that other fun stuff.
MoCoRunning: Back in March, we did an interview with your teammate Elais Tousley and he had some pretty harsh words to say about you. Here is your chance to fire back! What's the real deal with that Elias kid?
Bowie: The Alaskan Fury is still a big mystery to the team with the tricks he has up his sleeve. He's a sneaky guy with a deadly kick to help his cause of total distance running domination. He has become a beast that can't be contained anymore. He is like the calm before a storm before the race starts, but once he gets to the line he is a force to be reckoned with. This year, I plan to stop him when I unleash my cunning plans to take him out of the upcoming races. Maybe his spikes will be missing or he might have a little fall when my foot "accidentally" steps in his path. Unfortunately, I won't be able to put my plans in motion since I need him to complete the dynamic duo which is apart of the fantastic five of the magnificent seven who will win the 3A Maryland State Championship.