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Published: July 03, 2009 10:38 pm     

RUNNING: GI's Carter leads new age

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

Chris Carter has a need for speed. Whether it’s his motorcycle, Subaru speedster or the plain dirt road, Carter prefers to be going fast.

Look no further than the Buffalo Runner of the Year standings for evidence. Nearly halfway through the prestigious series, the 19-year old Grand Island resident sits on top, already boasting several wins this season.

“I like to be at the front of the pack no matter what I’m doing,” Carter said recently.

The 2008 Grand Island High School graduate is also a hit with his fashion. He’s become famous for his ever-growing bandana collection, many of which are inscribed with his name and the letters FTW — For The Win. He also runs every race with his hair spiked up to form a mohawk.

“I’m kind of the punk of running,” Carter joked. “I’m bringing in the new era of the sport.”

While Carter laughs, his assessment has a lot of merit to it.

Carter was a solid runner at GI before breaking out his senior year. He helped the Vikings to the Niagara Frontier League cross country and track and field titles and earned a spot on the team at Division II Edinboro (Pa.) University last fall. Carter redshirted this past year, but made incredible strides each and every day.

“My body wasn’t ready when I went to Edinboro because I was still maturing — I still am actually — but I feel like I can take much more mentally and physically now,” he said. “The training intensified by 100 times. Our coach’s motto was ‘hurt, pain and agony.’”

Carter lived by those words and more. He upped his training regimen to the point where he now runs twice a day and nearly 90 miles per week and pays close attention to what he’s putting into his body. He’s also focused on injury prevention.

The results have been truly staggering. Carter has dropped more than a minute off his 5K time. And just this past weekend he was invited to the prestigious Niagara Association USA Track & Field 5K Championships in suburban Rochester, where as the youngest runner in the field he came home with a fourth-place finish.

“This whole season has been huge for me,” Carter said. “Just to be thought of as one of the area’s top runners is exciting.”

Today at the annual Dick Bessell Independence Day 5K on Grand Island, Carter is set to race against one his best friends, recent GI graduate and two-time Niagara Gazette Cross Country Runner of the Year Evan Tsembelis.

“I opted out of the Buffalo Runner of the Year race in Depew because the Dick Bessell race is kind of being built up as a showdown between Evan and I,” Carter said with a smile. “We train together and push each other, so we want to test each other in our hometown.”

In Carter’s eyes, he’s the better distance runner, while Tsembelis excels with shorter sprints. Nonetheless, he knows race strategy will play a big factor in who might earn the crown as the Island’s best runner.

“It should be a lot of fun,” Carter said.

In the long run, though, Carter is focused on claiming the Buffalo Runner of the Year title. He plans to return for the series’ next event later this month and continue to compete through the Buffalo Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, normally a week or so after the end of the collegiate season.

“I’m looking for this to be a breakout college season for me… and the Buffalo Runner title would be even more awesome, especially since I’m so young yet,” he said.