On a late August morning in 2015, Diego Chavez,35, left his house in the heart of Mexico City, to cheer on his cousin who was running the marathon. He got to the intersection of Insurgentes and saw thousands of people screaming and cheering on the runners. “It gave me an incredible amount of emotion,“ he recalls. “I want to be one of those guys running, I thought.”
Three years later, Diego is two days away from running the TCS New York City Marathon, his sixth marathon and his third in the last three months. He is also preparing for the Boston Marathon next year, a qualification-only race for the most elite runners.
Diego, who works at an advertising firm and Mexico City and as a writer for a travel magazine, is continually pushing himself to face more significant challenges. “With many other sports I’ve done I always felt like I got to a point where I had nothing more to accomplish, and I got bored,” he said running his hand through his curly black hair. “But in running there is no limit. It keeps me going.”
A year after watching the Mexico City marathon, he was running it. “I felt like a badass,” he said. After finishing, he was obsessed with the runner’s high and became determined to qualify to the Boston Marathon. To qualify, he needed a time of 3 hours and 5 minutes, which only about 10 percent of marathons runners accomplish, according to Runner’s World Magazine,
However, 2017 was not his year. He was hoping to qualify in Chicago, but a couple of weeks before the marathon he had a foot injury which restricted his training. He rested up for the race and tried everything to cure his injury. Midway through the race, the pain violently came back. He could only see this ETA and hopes ticking away. “I cried from there to the finish line.” He was so disappointed with his 3:27 time that he quit his running group, forgot about Boston and focused his energy on his jobs and girlfriend.
That is until this February when he broke up. “I became co-dependent in my relationship,” he admits, “and in that codependence, I forgot what I really wanted.” He promised himself he would qualify this year and signed up for three marathons, Mexico City (August 26), Toronto (October 21) and New York (November 4). In Mexico City humidity was higher than usual and he got dehydrated and got cramps in both his legs. “I wanted to cry,” he said. “I didn’t want to see my watch and was too embarrassed to look at the people cheering me on.” However, a few miles before finishing, he saw his family screaming, giving him an extra boost of energy and he saw that he could still make it. His final time 3 hours and 4 minutes, under the wire by a minute.
In Toronto, he beat his personal best and finished below three hours and, because of the race calendar, qualified to Boston in 2020. Now, two days before the TCS NYC marathon, the is dealing with another ankle injury. His doctor and trainer have advised him to take it slow. “I just want to enjoy the race, it the biggest one in the world and I’m just excited to run with so many people.” He said in a not-quite-believable tone. Sure enough, he ran steadfast with an unofficial time of 3:04, reassuring his place in Boston. “It was incredible,” he said. ” I enjoyed it from the first moment.”
Up next for Diego, Boston 2019 and 2020, among others he’s eyeing in-between like London and Tokyo. First though, a half Iron Man triathlon in December, consisting of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.
His passion for running is simultaneously terrifying and contagious. “A therapist once told me that runners hate running that they just like the feeling of achievement at the end of the race. But not me. I love the nerves that don’t let me sleep before the race, I love the anxiety of waiting in the start line, and I love running.”