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Three-Time Winner Captures Pulse of Heart Run

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Although Chris Schallert’s winning time of 30 minutes, 53 seconds over the 10,000-meter course for The Heart Run in Woodland Hills on Sunday was not fast by his standards, it had special significance.

“I had never won the same race three times before,” said Schallert, who has run 29:34 for 10,000 meters on the road. “I had won some races twice, but I’ve never won the same race three times until Sunday. It felt good to do that.”

Schallert, a 1977 graduate of North Hollywood High who now resides in Santa Rosa, has won the Heart Run since its inception in 1986. He ran 30:52 that year and 31:08 in 1987.

His best race, however, is the marathon. He has a personal best of 2 hours, 16 minutes, 15 seconds for the 26-mile, 385-yard distance and placed eighth in the 1986 Los Angeles Marathon.

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He ran 2:19:08 to place fifth in the St. George Marathon in Utah last October to qualify for this year’s U. S. Olympic Trials.

“That’s what I’m gearing my season toward,” Schallert said of the trials, which will be held in New Jersey in April. “Everything else is secondary.”

Schallert, who placed third for Cal State Northridge in the 1982 NCAA Division II track championships at 10,000 meters, hopes to place in the top 50 at the trials and would be “ecstatic” should he finish among the top 30.

“Realistically, I don’t have a chance of making the team,” he admitted. “I just want to run well there.”

After the trials, Schallert, 28, will turn his attention toward the 10,000-meter and half-marathon distances, which require less training than the marathon.

“I’ll still run some marathons,” Schallert said. “But I won’t be as serious about them. My training will be geared toward the shorter races, which aren’t as intense. If I run a marathon, I won’t be as intense about it as I have been in the past.”

Schallert’s marathon training regimen of 80-100 miles a week has taken its toll on him, mentally and physically.

“Training for the marathon year-around just takes too much out of you,” said Schallert, who has finished 14 marathons, including 13 since 1983. “It’s my best distance, but it really beats you up physically. It’s very intense. It takes a lot out of you mentally, too.

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“I don’t look forward to the training like I once did. I’m not thrilled about running for two hours in training anymore.”

A family life also has changed his outlook toward training. He was married in December, 1985, and has a 16-month-old son named William with whom he wants to spend time.

“Running is still important to me, but it’s not the No. 1 thing in my life any more,” Schallert said. “It’s secondary to my family. Right now, I’m more worried about paying the bills and raising my little boy than running. I don’t want to be so caught up in my training that I don’t see him grow up.”

Schallert’s concern for his son’s welfare prompted his move from Canoga Park to Santa Rosa last year.

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“I didn’t want to raise my son in a big city. I didn’t want him growing up in the Los Angeles area,” Schallert said. “It’s too crowded. There’s too many people, and most importantly, it’s unsafe. I want him to grow up in a city where he can feel safe when he walks the streets at night.”

Though his priorities have changed, Schallert has no intention of retiring from competition. He would liked to run for at least four more years.

“I’d like to consistently run under 30 minutes on the road,” he said. “If I do that, I could win some prize money on a consistent basis.”

He also would like to make his son proud. “I’d like him to see me win some races,” he said. “I’d like him to be proud of his daddy.”

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