Wednesday, November 4, 2009

McDougall-ed

Over the last few days I've had the distinct privilege and honor to play host to Chris McDougall here at the University of New Hampshire. Chris is a former AP War Correspondent, a writer for Men's Health and a New York Times Best Selling author for his book "Born To Run." Chris and I had exchanged various e-mails with each other, as runners, just a few months ago and in conversation, I asked him to come to UNH to share his experiences with the community. I won't discuss the details in getting Chris up here beyond saying that, Beer is a magical tool of the trade.

Chris hoped on a 4-am flight yesterday morning then drove to UNH Durham, about an hour drive, at which point I ushered him immediately into a classroom filled with the UNH Freshmen in our Amped Up program here on campus. He spoke to them about his travels in working for the AP, Men's Health, Runnersworld and now as an author. His talk was both engaging and insightful serving his freshman audience well. He left ample time for the students to ask questions and engage him and I really feel that his sense of humor is what works best when Chris Speaks. In the end.. he was both humble, intelligent, well prepared and accommodating.

I wanted to get Chris out for a run yesterday, but an overdue assignment saw him locked up in his hotel room at The New England Center. Once I was done running instead and Chris done writing, we treated him to dinner at Holloway Commons, the universities flagship dining hall. Imagine that, here I was at UNH, walking a NY Times Best Selling author around campus and now having dinner with him.

After dinner we went over to the Memorial Union Building where we welcomed the folks from Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Manchester. (Chris is there signing books tonight!!) Chris then sat down in a chair at a table and patiently greeted every person who wanted to meet his acquaintance, he listened to them, engaged with them and signed their books, tickets or whatever. Then he spoke to an audience of 104 for about an hour before entertaining questions for another 45 minutes. His talk was amazing. Lots of laughter, an engaged audience, insightful questions... after the presentation Chris told me that UNH Provided him with one of the best audiences he had during his 6 month tour. We all had an amazing time which was again followed by Chris signing books until everyone in attendance had their chance.

I drove to campus this morning and picked Chris up at his hotel. We drove to A Lot, I put on my running gear while he bounced around in 30 degree air (he's not used to this kind of cold yet), and then we took off. We ran through campus and then into college woods. Chris was wearing a pair of vibram five fingers. He stubbed his toe hard a couple of times, each time causing him to have to catch his breath... but Chris kept his cool (literally), ran 6 miles with me before I had to bail and go to class.

I just really want to thank my friend Chris for coming to New Hampshire and providing all of us here at UNH and the surrounding communities the opportunity to meet him and hear him speak. His book is inspirational, insightful and in my opinion and important read. I also want to thank my advisors in the Kinesiology: Outdoor Education department for supporting and hosting the talk last night. I also want to thank all of those who came out to hear him last night, it was an amazing evening and one of those moments that helps get me right back out the door.

Here is to goals, dreams, aspirations... and checking dinner and a run with a NY Times Best Selling Author off of my Bucket List. THANKS CHRIS!

~SJ