Superman doesn't fly without his red cape. Chris Lundstrom doesn't run without his red bandana.
by Bruce Leonard
"The whole bandana thing started last year before the New York City Marathon," says a bemused Lundstrom. "I had this really long hair and it started to flap down in my eyes. So, I put on the bandana to keep it out of my face and that went pretty well, I've been wearing it ever since."
BORN TO RUN
Fashion sense aside, the 26-year-old Minnesota native has become a rising star in the world of long distance running. His transition from marathon unknown to marathon somebody took place at the aforementioned New York City Marathon, the site of the 2001 U.S. Men's Marathon Championships.
Lundstrom proved to himself that he could compete with the top U.S. runners, crossing the finish line third among Americans and 16th overall in the personal best time of 2:18:08. Not world class just yet, but not bad for someone running in his second marathon. "The New York City Marathon was such a huge breakthrough for me," says Lundstrom. "I felt I was right on pace the whole time and everything was feeling so natural and easy. It's as close to a perfect race as I have run."
Perfection, that's pretty much how Lundstrom feels the union is between him and the sport he loves. He believes he was born to run. "When I first started running in 8th grade at Northfield, I immediately loved it and knew I would be good at it. Then I went to college at Stanford and helped the Cardinals win an NCAA cross country title. As I've gotten older, nothing's really changed. I love the training, the endless miles, and all the work that goes into preparing for a marathon."
Lundstrom's decision to return to his home state and train with Team USA Minnesota has fueled his ascension on the marathon map. Head Coach Dennis Barker says Lundstorm is making great strides. "Chris' biggest strength is his mental ability to stick with it for long distance races. The main thing that I'm working on is his consistency, and to help him cover the distance quicker. He was a good 5k and 10k runner in college, and now it's just extending that a little bit further."
That approach is working. Lundstrom has lowered all his times and considers himself to be a much more consistent runner and is in the best shape of his life. Still, he says, he hasn't had that race where he's felt on fire. "After New York, I expected every race to be a huge breakthrough, and when that didn't happen it was frustrating. But I've gotten faster and hopefully I'll have another breakthrough race at the Twin Cities Marathon, (this year's site for the U.S Men's Marathon Championships). It would be pretty incredible to do well with your home state cheering you on."
In the not too distant future, the Olympic Trials loom. While he would love to win a spot and run for the U.S. team at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece, Lundstrom doesn't obsess over it. "If I continue to train hard, and get my time down below 2:15, I'll have a shot at it and everything will take care of itself." says Lundstrom. "The main reason I run is for the enjoyment. If I don't run, I'm not a happy person. Running has always given me peace of mind."
And just maybe something gold, silver, or bronze to wear with that red bandana.