BC Hall of Famer Chris Georgules: Distance Running Put His Life on Track

Chris-G-for-webHe wasn’t exactly Smith, the street-tough borstal boy of Alan Sillitoe’s “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.” But Chris Georgules’ story is strikingly similar. Like that fictional lad, Chris was an at-risk youth who found a purpose, an outlet, and a depth of excellence in himself when he took up distance running.

Chris first distinguished himself on the tracks and cross country trails at Saint John’s High in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He ended up at Boston College, where he became one of the best and most versatile distance runners in school history.

Like most elite athletes, Chris can tick off the names of many coaches and teammates whose influence and advice were indispensable to him along the way. But none of those track people would have even met him, were it not for Chris’ grandmother, Annie Culhane.

Annie raised Chris, his brother Stefan and his sister Audrey from the time Chris was seven. She sent him to Saint John’s and demanded that he not only study, but also take part in extracurricular activities. He’d been to four different grammar schools and was hanging out with a number of less-than stellar companions. He needed direction and discipline, and Annie told him to go find it.

Though he was lean and athletic, Chris hadn’t enjoyed much success at sport either. He’d been cut from all the teams he tried to make. Cross country was different. Anybody could take part, and there were no squad cuts. He joined up.

“I’d be nowhere without my grandmother. She forced me to do something extracurricular. I wasn’t going around with the greatest crowd and was a problem child until I got to Saint John’s. I think I had some anger issues from moving around so much. When I started running, I did pretty well right away. And I found a different set of friends,” he says.

Chris didn’t just start running. He started winning. He took two state championships in cross country and the indoor mile, and competed on the national level in cross country. More importantly, he learned the responsibilities that come with being a champion athlete. Cross country coach Raul Laborde and track coach Jerry Frew both boosted his confidence and self-esteem in a way that he’d never known. Frew also reminded Chris that younger athletes were now looking up to him, and that he had to behave in an adult-like, responsible way.

Julia, Chris, Ian, and Benjamin

Julia, Chris, Ian, and Benjamin

Lightly recruited despite his high school success, Chris accepted Randy Thomas’s offer of a partial scholarship to BC. By the time he got to college, Chris had made tremendous strides in personal maturity, but he was still a work in progress. He recalls an early cross country meet when he lost a race right at the wire, threw a temper tantrum, and flung his glasses away in frustration.

In stepped team captain Brian Murphy to give the young Mr. Georgules a stern warning that he’d better not that again – ever.

“He was two years older than me at the time, and he made me realize that maybe I wasn’t the best on the team, but that there was a certain attitude that was expected. There were other team members, — Jamalh Prince, Keith Yuen, Pete Hogan. I looked up to them all. They showed me how it could be done, and they also showed me how to relax and have fun. That was something I’d never done in high school either,” he said

“Once I found running, I found my niche. But it wasn’t a passion for me. I liked it and was good at it, but the best parts were the practices, the training runs, the travel, the bus rides. It was the camaraderie, spending time with my team mates. That’s what I valued most. As a runner, I had decent speed but I didn’t set the pace. I was a stick-in-the-pack guy, would stay in third or fourth place, and rely on my speed at the end.”

We’ll take his word that Chris was not a single-minded, triple-A personality competitor. But you’d never know that from the record he set at Boston College.

In cross country, he was the 1992 U.S. National Junior Champion. That same year he competed in the World Junior Championships and finished 55th. He was also the National Catholic Champion and led BC to the team title. In 1994 he was National Catholic Cross Country Champion and paced the Eagles to the team championship.

In indoor track, Chris was a two-time All-American in the 3,000m indoor event. He set BC’s all-time best record for that distance with a time of 7:59.27. He also ranked fourth all-time in the 5,000m indoor, the 5,000m outdoor, and 1,500m outdoor events.

He was 1994 New England champion in the 3,000m; in 1992 and 1993 he ran the mile leg as the Eagles won the IC4A and Big East Distance Medley Relay. In 1995 he was Big East 5000m champion with a time of 14:18.99. He was New England champion in both the 5,000, with a time of 14:29.38, and the 1,500, with a time of 3:47.22.

In outdoor track, he was 1994 New England Champion in the 5,000m with a time of 14:29.38, and 1995 New England Champion in the 1,500m with a time of 3:47.22.

All in all, not bad for a kid who never made another a sports team.

Chris has been teaching English at Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, California for 15 years. He and his wife of eight years, the former Julia Kilpatrick, are the parents of sons Ian, 4, and Benjamin, 2.

Before moving to California, where he also ran for the Stanford Farm Team and took up triathlons, Chris taught at St John’s in Worcester for five years. In the Golden State he reconnected with former BC teammates Ronan O’ Flaherty and E.J. Sarraille. Right after graduation, that trio had spent ten months touring the world – Europe, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and home by way of Fiji.

2 Responses to “BC Hall of Famer Chris Georgules: Distance Running Put His Life on Track”

  1. Cindy Says:

    Can I get access to the full article?

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