Chandler Goodwin looks to lead the Cougars back to national prominence this season. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Running. Diet Coke. Reading.
Randomness? Think again. For BYU cross country runner, Chandler Goodwin, running, Diet Coke and reading are essential elements of life.
Goodwin, from Pleasant Grove, started running competitively more than 10 years ago in junior high school.
"I picked up distance running because I used to race mountain bikes, and one winter it was too cold to train," said Goodwin, a six-foot-one senior on the men's cross country team. "So I put my mountain bike away, started running and decided to join the track team at my junior high school. I ended up selling my mountain bike to buy running shoes."
And a running star war born.
Along with natural talent, Goodwin has a family history of running. His grandfather coached track at Manti High School for several years, and his dad was a sprinter at Manti.
Goodwin's dad has influenced him in all aspects of his life.
"My dad puts his priorities in the right order," Goodwin said. "With my dad, it's always been the church, the temple and going on a mission. Religion and family have been the focal points; then school and then athletics. Life didn't revolve around what place you took at your race."
This focus on family and religion provided Goodwin with a firm foundation in his life. As a three-year letterman at Orem's Mountain View High School, Goodwin served as team captain for the Bruin Cross Country team. He was selected to the All-Region First Team. He made first-team all-state and was selected the 5A Runner of the Year.
Despite his success, Goodwin says he didn't always envision himself running cross country in college.
"When I was in high school, I didn't know what I was going to be doing when I was 20," Goodwin joked.
But after a teacher told his parents that he could get a running scholarship to college, Goodwin took running more seriously.
"By the time I was a senior, I knew I was going to run in college," Goodwin said.
He was recruited by BYU, Oregon, Iona and Southern Utah University. Goodwin decided to attend BYU for one main reason.
"Coach Eyestone was the number one reason," he said without hesitation. "I really like how he runs his team. I wanted free agency, and he doesn't micromanage. He's also been where you want to go as far as being one of the top distance runners in the country," Goodwin said.
BYU has been a good fit for Goodwin. Last season, he earned first-team All-Mountain West Conference honors, and he finished 21st at the NCAA Mountain Region meet with a time of 31:29.6. His most memorable moment of last year was receiving All-America honors in the steeplechase during the track and field season.
Goodwin inspires fellow runners with his determination and consistency.
"Chandler contributes a lot to the team," said teammate and long-time friend Dustin Bybee. "He's the one who doesn't have a bad day. He expects himself to be 100 percent every race. His consistency inspires the whole team."
Bybee and Goodwin started running together more than 10 years ago at Mountain View. Bybee's favorite memory of Goodwin is their senior year of high school.
"We were both really competitive, raced every race together and led the pack the whole year," Bybee said.
The two friends continue to motivate one another on the BYU cross country team.
"Racing with Chandler is great because of his consistency," Bybee observed. "But running with him is great too because you're never going to have a dull moment. Chandler always has a story of the day or something funny to say."
Along with running, Goodwin prepares for cross country races in other ways. A week prior to the race, he cuts back on training. He also tries to watch his diet more closely.
"Chandler is not your typical runner," Bybee said. "He doesn't have a typical runner's regimen. He can eat an hour before a race and have a fantastic performance."
Goodwin seconds that observation.
"I'm not known to eat very well," he admitted with a sheepish grin. "I live on a steady diet of junk food. But before the race, I really try to watch what I eat so I can get nutrients in my body. I try to hydrate with water, Diet Coke and glucose."
Goodwin claims that Diet Coke is an essential part of his life.
"I know that Diet Coke may not be a food," Goodwin confessed. "But I would die without it. I actually had a dream about Diet Coke last night."
Along with hydration, Goodwin likes to listen to music before a race.
"It's something to take me away from what's going on right there, in the moment," he explained.
Goodwin looks forward to the upcoming season on the cross country team. He says it's going to be interesting to see how the team gels without All-American Josh Rohatinsky, who graduated in April.
"Josh was the core of our team." Goodwin said. "So I'm excited to see how our team comes together. We have several new guys and returning runners that will make a great contribution."
Goodwin has two main goals for the 2007 season. First, he would like to receive All-America honors in cross country. Second, he would like the team to finish in the top 10 at the national cross country championships.
In addition to running, Goodwin aspires to succeed professionally. As a political science major, he would like to work for the government in Washington D.C. or in a foreign embassy in Eastern Europe.
Goodwin served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Czech Republic.
"I've always been interested in current affairs, things that are going on in the world," said Goodwin. "But my mission to the Czech Republic served as a catalyst to becoming even more interested in current affairs."
When Goodwin is not running, drinking Diet Coke or studying current affairs, he likes to read.
"I am a voracious reader," Goodwin said. "I go through a book a week."
One of his favorite books is The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz, a true story about seven men who escape a Soviet labor camp and trek thousands of miles from Siberia to India.
"I thought it was just an amazing story," Goodwin said. "I was totally blown away."
Goodwin also enjoys watching movies, especially ones with Bruce Willis.
"I love living someone else's life for two hours," Goodwin said. "It's great."
In the meantime, Goodwin has a pretty good life himself. As one of the top runners on the BYU men's cross country team, he has a future filled with endless opportunities for greatness. Perhaps the Olympics await him. Or maybe the Foreign Service. Regardless of the endeavor, Goodwin will achieve success with his determination and vitality.