This is a big year of long-distance racing for Chris Maxwell.
A member of the Bowerman Track Club Elite team in Portland, Oregon, Maxwell will be looking to attain a personal record when he runs as an elite-level entrant in the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Half Marathon on Sunday, March 3.
The 13.1-mile race starts at 7 a.m. on the Silverado Trail in St. Helena, near Conn Creek Winery, and follows the same course that the full Napa Valley Marathon uses, to reach the finish line area at Vintage High School.
Six weeks later, Maxwell will be in the Boston Marathon. The 26.2-mile-race, now in its 123rd year, is on April 15, Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts. Boston is “The marathon that all other marathons are measured by. This isn’t only the world’s oldest, but regarded as one of the world’s most challenging races,” according to the event’s website, baa.org.
Maxwell said his training and preparation over the last two months, with mileage of over 80 miles per week and speed workouts on the track, have gone well.
“I think that will translate well to the half marathon,” Maxwell said in a telephone interview Monday. “Coming from not having a strong track background, it’s something that I’m continuing to develop. I feel super excited about the race. I’m feeling great. And I’m excited that I get to open it up and see where I am at six weeks before Boston.”
The Napa Valley Half Marathon, a brand new race which was announced last year by event officials, has a sold-out field of 2,000 runners. It’s one of three races on March 3, joining the 41st annual Napa Valley Marathon and the Kiwanis Club of Greater Napa 5K (3.1 miles). The same finish-line chute, located in the front parking lot of Vintage, will be used for all three races.
Maxwell’s fastest half-marathon time is 1 hour, 12 minutes, 21 seconds – a split-time that he achieved at the California International Marathon, a point-to-point race that is put on by the Sacramento Running Association, this past December. He placed 140th in the race in a time of 2:28:05.
“That was the first half of the race,” said Maxwell, 25. “I know that doing a half, just by itself, and not having the second half within the marathon itself, I think I can definitely run faster than that.”
Maxwell and his coach, Mario Fraioli, have identified a time of 1:09 to 1:10 for the Napa race.
“I think that’s what my fitness is indicating right now,” said Maxwell, a 2012 graduate of Branson High School-Ross in Marin County who ran cross country for the Bulls. “The Napa Valley half will be a great tune-up, just to kind of see where I’m at, six weeks out from the race for Boston. I know it’s a relatively flat, fast course. I’m looking forward to just racing it and putting my fitness to a test. It will be fun. I’m looking forward to going into that distance.
“I’ve been looking to get my half PR down over the past year or so.”
Maxwell qualified for Boston by finishing 30th overall at the Chevron Houston Marathon in a time of 2:27:57 last year. He was second in the men’s 20-24 age division.
Maxwell attended Boston College, but he did not run for the Eagles. He joined the Greater Boston Track Club.
“I took a bit of a circuitous route to competitive running,” he said. “I grew up being surrounded by runners. Both my parents are runners. We come from a big running family. But I wasn’t super serious about it. I was really just passionate about being out on the trails and just enjoying being out in nature, not so much the competitive aspect.
“Once I got to college, I started to take it a little bit more serious about training,” said Maxwell, who graduated in 2016 with a degree in marketing finance. “I just progressively got a little bit more competitive with more structured training.”
He works in the product management division at NIKE, Inc., in Beaverton, Ore., and makes his home in Portland.
The Portland-based Bowerman TC Elite program that he is a member of is a group of post-collegiate runners looking to compete on a national level. Bowerman TC Elite athletes compete in a wide range of events, including track and road races from 1,500 meters to the marathon, according to bowermantc.com.
The program is named after Bill Bowerman, a coach at the University of Oregon for 24 years.
“We take running competitively and we take it seriously, but it’s not our full-time job,” said Maxwell. “We often have a lot of other things going on in our lives. We’re a group that trains together, races together. We’re all friends. It’s a great atmosphere.”
For more information, visit napavalleymarathon.org.