MEMBER: Chris Hatler
Name: Chris Hatler
Hometown: Branchville, NJ
High School: Pope John XXIII
College: University of Pennsylvania
Occupation: Wellness Guide at Philadelphia Runner, Writer and Musician
Favorite Place to Run in Philly: Wissahickon Valley Park
800m - 1:48.88
1500m - 3:39.08
Mile - 3:59.21
8k - 24:08
2016 Penn Relays 4xMile Champion
2016 Ivy League Cross Country Team Champions
2017 Ivy League Champion - Indoor Mile
By: Kevin Brandon (10/22/18)
Chris, thanks for taking some time to speak with us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in Philadelphia and running with PRTC?
Happy to do it! 18-year-old me stumbled onto Penn's campus in the fall of 2013 and ever since I've been in love with the city and decided to call it home. Shout out to the Bodega boys Alec and Kieran for recruiting me to PRTC, it's been a blast.
When did you first become a runner? Did a specific event compel you to take on the sport?
My dad forced me to do spring track my freshman year of high school. I'm pretty competitive so I took a liking to the absurdly black-and-white form of winning and losing based on your individual ability. Then I was cut from the JV soccer team my sophomore year for being quite awful so I resigned myself to running XC. The rest is history I guess.
Once you began running, how did your career develop? Take us through day one to today.
My career is outlined by big breakthroughs followed by slow incremental improvement. I ran 4:12 my junior year of high school, a full 13 seconds faster than the year prior. Then for the next 3 or so years I only shaved off another 4 seconds. The second breakthrough came at the end of sophomore year at Penn where I ran 3:44 in the 1500, and since then it's been steady but solid drops in time from year to year and heightened competitiveness in championship meets. I credit it much of it to the growth of my aerobic ability thanks to the guidance of my college coach Steve Dolan.
You joined the club as one of several Penn alumni. What was it like to race as a Quaker?
Racing for Penn has been the highlight of my life thus far. Being surrounded by a group of guys and girls who are all pushing each other to be the best version of themselves was a special opportunity that I'm thankful for every day. Not only did I gain lifelong friends, but I was taught the lesson that with focus, hard work, and dedication, no goal is too lofty.
We usually ask about a favorite running moment or accomplishment, but I'm thinking a certain achievement of yours is well-known. How did it feel to break 4-minutes in the mile? When did you realize this was possible for you and how did the race play out?
Breaking 4 was certainly a special moment. More than anything it was validation that all the time and effort I put in during my career was worth it, just to be one of the 500 Americans to ever Do It. It's funny though, I'm sure many runners can relate to this: When I ran that race, no part of it felt like I was putting in the superhuman effort I thought it would require. My brain and body were on autopilot and then next thing I knew the race was over. I suppose that's a testament to the confidence that comes with knowing you're in shape and going through every motion just the way you practiced it hundreds of times before, like a basketball player making a buzzer beater winning shot. It's never luck or magic, it's simply preparation and muscle memory under pressure.
I'm sure along the way you've had some not-so-great moments. Do any stick out?
My worst low was finishing last on my team (and nearly last in the race) at the Ivy League XC Champs my junior year. We lost the team title by a few points, and at the time I couldn't help but find some of the blame in myself. In hindsight, it was a growing moment to realize that there were some things I needed to change about the way I approached XC, but at the time it felt like a career ending race. Fortunately I stuck to it and had a really good track season that year.
Before PRTC, you spent time with District Track Club in Washington D.C. How was it to train with a professional running group?
It was pretty intense. It was a learning experience, but a tough one. It was a hard u-turn from the conference-focused and team-oriented training environment in college to a very loose season structure and extremely cutthroat competitiveness. None of this was because of the club itself, but because of the atmosphere of professional running in general. Tons of runners are duking it out for a diminishing amount of shoe sponsorships, many of them forgoing comfortable living to "chase the dream." I was lucky enough to receive housing and monetary support from District Track Club and got to train alongside Olympic gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz Jr. every once and awhile, so despite it being difficult, I gained valuable experience and built many strong bonds with those I met during my stint.
Regarding your running future, what are your near and long-term goals?
I haven't thought too far ahead yet. At this moment in time I'm just trying to enjoy training again. We'll see what the future has in store.
Aside from running, you also have talent and passion for music. Can you explain Dipking to us? Where can we listen to your music?
Dipking is a moniker I donned to be able to put my music out semi-anonymously. It's actually a humorous dichotomy of a menacing sounding name with a silly meaning, as Dipking literally refers to being the King of Dip such as Skoal or Copenhagen, something that I tried once in high school that made me throw up a lot. The authoritative sounding name hiding an actually vulnerable meaning is supposed to convey the truth of how every dude who makes music wants to be seen as cool and edgy when really we're mostly just a buncha sappy white guys that make emo rock who shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. You can hear my sad songs about first world problems on dipking.bandcamp.com, and you might see me around at an open mic sometime.
Any non-running related hobbies, hidden skills, or talents we may enjoy hearing of?
I invented and patented the One-Hand Clap. Ask Nick Tuck to give a demonstration sometime.