Track and Field: Running mates

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April 24, 2009

2:10 AM

Seniors Ian Fitzgerald and Christo Landry are two of the top runners in College of William and Mary history. Both have won All-American honors, both were members of Head Coach Alex Gibby’s first recruiting class, and both are looking to end their careers on a high note in the upcoming IC4A and NCAA Championships.

The pair is so prominently linked in the Tribe program, that in order to better know one, you should start by asking the other.

“I’d have to say Chris is one of the tougher runners I’ve seen,” Fitzgerald said. “He likes to go stick his nose in it a little more. Especially in cross country, he’ll get up there in the front and try to stick up there all the day.”

Landry made a name for himself in cross country, winning a CAA Athlete of the Year award in 2007. He became the second member of the Tribe to earn three-time All-American honors in cross country and has twice qualified for the NCAA Championships in track and field.

All this gives him a unique perspective on his running mate as well.

“[Fitzgerald] has a pretty good kick, so he doesn’t get out fast,” Landry said. “He slides into the back of the pack and works his way up to make his kick by the end of the race.”

Fitzgerald has found success in track and field, earning his first All-American honor this season in the mile run at the NCAA Indoor Championships. He has qualified for the IC4As in each of his four seasons at the College, finished second in the Conference this past season in the 5,000-m run and was named the CAA Athlete of the Year in cross country in 2005.

It was that 2005 season, at the regional cross country championships, that Landry says Fitzgerald ran the best race he’s ever seen him run.

“Fitz sat back until about 2-k left in the race, when he just took off,” Landry said. “There was this little hill, maybe the only hill in this race, and he just charged up the hill because that’s how he deals with hills. And when he got to the top, he was like ‘I’m making my move.’ And when he made his move, no one was able to catch him.”

Despite comparable success, Fitzgerald and Landry have taken different career paths at the College.
Landry started off quickly, making All-American in cross country and qualifying for the NCAAs in the 5,000-m in track and field before a bicycle crash his sophomore year prematurely ended his cross country campaign.

After their sophomore seasons, Landry returned to cross country and Fitzgerald became one of the top 5,000-m runners in the region in track and field. And although the two continue to race against each other, neither of them feels that they are competing against the other.

“We’ve talked about this in the past. If one of us beats the other, we look at is as good because that means we’re running our best,” Fitzgerald says.

Landry agreed.

“If I finished 13th in the nation and he beats me, that means that’s a hell of a job done by both of us,” he said.

The two of them have held that attitude since they first met as freshman.

“The first time I remember him was on a workout we were doing on a country road,” Fitzgerald said. “I was just amazed that he had come in doing short mileage and done faster PR’s than me.”

Since that first meeting, the two have been together constantly. They are roommates, teammates and the cornerstones of Gibby’s track program, the first standout recruits Gibby brought to the College.

“We have a good relationship [with Gibby],” Fitzgerald said. “We understand what each of us wants from workouts, training and meets.”

Both Fitzgerald and Landry will have a big say in the Tribe’s success in the rest of the season. Fitzgerald looks to challenge in the 1,500-m and the 5,000-m, while Landry looks to get back on the track after finishing his first race since the 2007 NCAA cross country championships at the Conference meet last weekend.

Landry, for one, expects big things from his All-American housemate.

“Fitz is going to All-American again, and it’s not going to be ninth place this time,” Landry said. “It’s going to be top-five, in either the 5k or the mile.”

Regardless of the final outcome, both runners know their careers are coming to a close. Yet neither want their careers — or their friendship — to come to an end.

“I’ve contemplated trying to find some way to run at this level, obviously not collegiate but the same type of training,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ll allow everything to fall where it may at the end.”

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