Chris Walters had it all figured out in early November.
“We were going to go for a run one morning before the Bob Ivory race,” Vasilis Kariolis said. “He said to me, ‘I looked at the numbers, and I have to win the Bob Ivory and the Turkey Trot to beat you for Runner of the Year. A first and a second is a tie.’ ”
Walters was trailing Kariolis by 21 points in The News’ annual series, with only those two races left. First place is worth 12 points and second is worth nine.
Kariolis skipped the Bob Ivory Run, which was won by Walters. That cut the lead to nine, when fate intervened. Kariolis went to see the rest of his family in the Hudson Valley before Thanksgiving, but had some plans to come back for the Turkey Trot.
“Weirdly, the storm kept me at home,” he said. “My little sister got delayed. I wouldn’t have seen her if I had left then, so I waited it out. I just enjoyed the holiday.”
Jacob Krolick won the Trot, but Walters held on to finish second by 14 seconds. That was good enough to give him that seemingly predestined tie, only the second such deadlock in the 26-year history of the series.
As you’d expect, both runners enjoyed good 2013 seasons. Walters only took part in one race in the series until mid-June. Then he displayed the form that allowed him to win the title in 2012, finishing first in three races and coming in second in two others.
“It was a very good year. I had no complaints,” Walters said.
The Fredonia grad had a lot to squeeze into his life these days. After all, his twin children, Matthew and Jacob, are more than two years old now.
“They have come to quite a few races,” Walters said. “They’ve come to the last two Turkey Trots, down at the finish line. They’ve even been to the Fleet Feet 15K; my wife brought them to the 5-mile mark.
“They’re excited to see daddy. Soon enough, they’ll understand what’s going on, but they do get a kick out of it even though they don’t really know why they are there.”
Walters reports the kids do quite a bit of running around in the park in the summer. He hopes that’s a sign of talent.
When Walters does go out for a morning run, he’s often joined by Kariolis and David Keenan, another top area runner.
“Chris is a year older than me,” Kariolis said. “I ran the St. Greg’s race when I was in college at Canisius. He was so far ahead of me. I was new to the road running circuit. I always knew who he was. One day, we crossed paths in the park, and I stopped and said ‘hi.’ We started to run together.”
If you thought that the News’ competition might spark some good-natured kidding between the two, you’d be wrong.
“Trash talking is neither of our fortes,” Walters said.
“That’s exactly right,” Kariolis added.
The two runners will continue their joint workouts. They have taken different goals, with very different challenges, into the coming year.
“I’d like to run the Y-10 in Lockport,” Walters said. “The closest thing I had to an injury last year was a hamstring, and I didn’t want to chance it.”
“I always wanted to do the Boston Marathon at some point, and it seemed like a good time to do it,” Kariolis said. “Coupled with the nonsense last spring, that makes it that much more memorable. Hopefully I’ll put in a good effort in Boston, and then try to do some quicker stuff – some track races.”