Blue Collar Runners: Chad Prichard

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It was on the trails of the Leadville 100 course that Chad Prichard found the sport of ultrarunning. He was at the Outward Bound aid station and paired up to pace a runner whose original pacer had fallen ill with altitude sickness. “The beauty of the mountains and attitudes of the runners and crew were the missing links. Trail running in the woods felt so freeing and I knew that this was the missing piece that I could never see before.” Chad ran 25 miles with his runner through that dark night, a feat he had never completed before. “That hooked me, and I decided two years later that I would run Leadville. I wanted to run 100 miles.”

Chad was born in Iowa, but his family moved to Kansas City, MO, following the death of his father. Growing up, he was a happy-go-lucky kid, who enjoyed playing football, baseball, and riding his skateboard or bike. “I am so thankful that I grew up before the internet. I was able to play outside and get dirty.”

Between his junior and senior year of high school, Chad entered the US Army boot camp. He went on to finish his senior year before later becoming a truck driver. His contract ended just before 9/11, and when that happened, he immediately re-enlisted as a US Army Civil Affairs Specialist that deployed with the 4th infantry division. Soon after, he joined the 10th group of special forces. “I only ran what I needed to run for my military physical fitness test.” Running was most certainly not high on Chad’s priority list, but it would soon become a welcome friend.

The Iraq War and a difficult divorce took a toll on Chad’s wellbeing. “I turned to the VA for help, but it took time to unwrap all the issues from combat. Sobriety, at first, was the hardest thing. I tell people that I had to learn how to do everything all over with a new set of eyes.”

In 2017, two years after he ran through the night as a pacer at Leadville, Chad’s running reached a whole new level. “I truly believe my most favorite and accomplished moment of my life was this year.” Chad ran and finished his first 100-miler at Rocky Raccoon in Texas. “The last lap was when I learned my most valuable lesson in ultrarunning. I was wishing I was at the finish and beginning to feel miserable about the fact that I wasn’t there. I then had an epiphany about relaxing the mind and enjoying the moment. I knew I could make it to the finish line and have all the things I was hoping for, but stressing was making me miss the most important part: the journey. Once I set my mind on enjoying the steps, time began to fly by, and I was able to finish with a smile.”

That same year, he went on to compete in the Leadville Leadman competition where he not only finished all the running races, but all the biking races in the series as well. “I completed the marathon, Silver Rush 50 Run and MTB, Leadville 100 MTB, 10k and the Leadville 100 run.” Chad placed 11th out of 100 participants. “Finishing that was so many emotions, both up and down. The Leadville 100-mile run was what I was really wanting to finish and it was the last obstacle in the Leadman competition. I was so thankful for the support of all my friends that came to crew and pace me.”

When Chad reflects on sobriety, running and life, he pauses, “I wouldn’t want it any other way. I call it, “life without crutches” and the ability to feel everything. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but the ability to see life in a new light is a gift. I have been able to attack the traumas in my life from combat and other areas, and face my demons. I can’t hide and take off the edge with a drink, so I have to use exercise and relaxation techniques to help with the pressure.”

Looking ahead, Chad has Badwater Salton Sea and Run Rabbit Run 100-mile race on the calendar. He is enrolled in the Denver College of Nursing and is looking forward to graduating this year. He has a deep faith which helps guide him, and enjoys yoga, watching movies and spending time with his family and friends. “It’s where I am able to just be me.”

Chad has learned so many invaluable lessons through running. “It has taught me discipline, both mentally and physically. It’s a time that I can process many of the days, thoughts or stresses, and come out with a peaceful mind. It’s a time that I can pray and have some very amazing one on one time with God… meditation on the move.”

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About Author

Guy and Krista Alderdice live in West Windsor, Vermont on a small farm, with their two teenage boys. In addition to being endurance junkies, they enjoy traveling and showing their kids the world. Between the two of them, they have finished 16 Vermont 100’s, eight on foot and eight on horseback. Through their love of ultarunning, they’ve made many connections with folks just like them. They founded Blue Collar Runners as a way to share the stories of everyday runners. These inspiring stories can be found at www.bluecollarrunners.com.

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