On February 25, a foursome from New Jersey New York Track Club walked in to the BU Last Chance Meet and ran out with a world record. Chris Giesting, Kyle Merber, Jesse Garn, and Joe McAsey ran the 4x800m faster than any group in recorded history, tallying a time of 7:11.30, besting the previous record by nearly 2 seconds.
We caught up with Chris Giesting, fresh off his world record, for a few questions about the event, his adjustment to the 800 from the 400, his small-town roots, and much more.
AthleteBiz (AB): You delivered a really strong 1:47 3rd leg. What was going through your head as Kyle handed off to you with a half stride lead and the world record still possible.
Chris Giesting (CG): My mind was on GO! When you’re attempting the WR you just have to push. There’s almost no time to think or worry, which is the way I like it anyway. I just needed to get out and run as hard as I could.
AB: The unbridled joy at the end of the race between you, Kyle, Jesse & Joe was awesome to see. How does this stack up among the highlights of your running career?
CG: I’ve had some very special moments in my career so far but the best ones for me are all from relays. Obviously winning the Gold at the World Indoor Champs in 2016 on our home turf with my parents present is going to be #1, but this experience is a close 2nd for me. What made this one so emotional is that I live and train with these guys, and at the end of the day being able to share in this accomplishment with my best friends is something I’ll remember forever. (SIDE NOTE: National Title in the DMR my freshman year at Notre Dame was a good time too! haha)
AB: Many people don’t realize that you already have an indoor World Championship relay gold medal at home. What is it about relays that seem to bring out the best in you?
CG: Going off of that last answer, I just love the team atmosphere a relay provides. There’s something about running with your friends and teammates that just amps me up. I swear, I would tell my coaches since high school that the baton gives me super powers. I know there’s plenty of athletes out there that feel the same way. Relays are the best part of this sport to me.
AB: Another little known fact about you is that you played point guard and were captain of your high school basketball team – while also running a 46 second 400m in track. If you could trade your World Record experience for playing in one NBA game would you do it?
CG: I love the NBA. Man let me tell you, I’m always watching or following the NBA and playing in fantasy team leagues. Actually right now I’m stressing on trying to win my weekly matchup! I wish I had the ability to play professional in the NBA, but I don’t think I’d trade this experience with the 4×8 for being able to play in a game. Maybe for 2 games though…jk!.
AB: We’re guessing that you are the first person ever from Batesville, Indiana to have “World Record Holder” in their bio. Describe how your small town upbringing and close knit family shaped who you are?
CG: Yeah I’d have to check the archives on that, but I love my small town. It’s great to have such a community behind you. The amount of texts I got from people back home after the race was amazing. I don’t even know how some of them found out about the record. Being from a small town like Batesville gives you a sense of pride when you’re on a world stage, and it’s something I try to embrace when I’m out there running. Even if I run like @&%! , I’ll always have support from back home, and that’s what really keeps me going. If anyone from Batesville reads this, I want to thank you right now for believing in me. It means more than you know.
AB: What word comes to mind to describe Coach Gags? How about Kyle Merber?
CG: So many words come to mind when I think of Gags, but if I had to pick one, I’d go with Softy! He’s tough on us, don’t get me wrong, but this man genuinely cares about our team and our lives. He gets as emotional as I do for my races, sometimes even more so, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. For Kyle, I’d have to say Bookworm. He’s always reading, and if you haven’t heard he started his own podcast/bookclub. So here’s a plug for that…The Book Club Track Club. Check it out.
AB: You made a huge decision a couple years ago to commit to becoming an 800m runner….after a fair amount of 400m success and a 45.53 PR. How tough is that transition?
CG: Transitioning to the 800 is frustrating. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s not something I’m quite used too yet and that’s what’s most difficult for me right now. I’m learning how to deal with the pain of racing and where to push my body when I’m tired. I had years of experience with that pain in the 400,but now I’m back at square one. But, I’m excited. I’m excited with where this 800 will take me and once I figure out how this event is run, I think I can be one of the best. I wouldn’t have switched events if I didn’t think that. Best part about the switch is knowing that on runs with my teammates, if an animal attacked, I could out sprint all of them to safety!
Trying to just hold my head up after yesterday's performance. Sometimes you just don't have it. Gonna take from this experience and learn from it. I'm so thankful for @hokaoneone for allowing me to keep chasing the dream! Onward and upward. . .@chuck_aragon . . #usatfchampionships #tracknation #trackandfield #running #grind
AB: We understand that you’re developing an expertise at having a relationship with another elite athlete while training for different events with different coaches in different states? How’s that going for you and Jade Barber?
CG: Jade and I are approaching our 5th year of being together! It’s been unbelievably great having someone that understands the track world and what we as athletes go through in this sport at your side through the ups and downs. On the other side of it, we train for completely different events in two very separate states. That’s been the most difficult part of this process of running professionally. We have different goals for ourselves but at the end of the day, we support each other and are each other’s biggest fans. She just finished up an amazing indoor season where she PR’d in the 60H and was able to run in places like Canada, France and Scotland. I’d be lying if I said it was easy making it all work with the training schedules, flying across the world, different time zones and hardly ever seeing each other, but we somehow find that common ground to make it all work out for the best. We’re very happy with where we’re at in our lives together and will hopefully be able to see more of each other soon, once I convince her to transition to the 800!
AB: Did your “The Geese” nickname start in childhood?
CG: My Dad actually had the nickname “the geese” in college, and since our last name is Giesting, which sounds like “geese-ting”, not “g-EYE-sting”, it was a natural name. My high school basketball coach would always yell out last names and he would yell mine as “geese” for short, and I kinda liked it, so I stuck with it. Whenever we run pass a flock of geese I don’t hesitate to remind my teammates their my fam.
AB: HOKA ONE ONE became a key partner to NJNYTC about 14 months ago. Tell us how their support has made in difference for you and the Club?
CG: HOKA ONE ONE has been incredible for our club. They’ve really helped us in becoming such a strong core of runners and one of the best track clubs in the country! We couldn’t be happier to be working alongside them. They’re a lot like our club in the sense that we aren’t the biggest club or brand in the game but we both have a down-to-earth personality about us that makes us each a special part of the running community.
AB: Speaking of HOKA, what’s your primary training shoe these days?
CG: Hoka has really up’d their game recently with their new Fly Collection out! I love their new Cavu shoe if you want to feel fast and light on your feet but if we’re talking hard mileage, I prefer the Clifton. I’ve gotten my friends and family to try the Clifton’s, and each one of them has come back saying they love them. I’m telling you, the hype is real!
AB: You’ve had a few days to digest this experience. How much of a mental lift does this give you as you head to the outdoor season?
CG: Coming off this World Record run has given me a new outlook. I was having a less than stellar indoor season and capped it off with a fat 1:52 at the US Championships the week prior. I was at a low point. Then the day we left for Boston I got a card in the mail from my Momma. It had an inspiring message written on it ending with a handwritten passage saying “I believe in you. Love Mom.” 48 Hours later I’m a World Record holder. My mindset has taken a total 180 and I’m excited for the outdoor season to come. Training is going to be great and I’m gonna approach this year with best attitude anyone has seen from me! Big things to come.