Skip to content Skip to footer

How Citius Mag founder Chris Chavez built an online running community

If people ran 20 minutes a day, the world would be a better place. Feeling blood cells pump through the body while carrying oxygen – that is life.  Panting for breath and feeling breathless in search of new air – that is life. Contracting and expanding the muscles of one’s body with each stride – that is life. That is running culture.

Within running culture a certain mindset exists. There’s an understanding that there are trials and tribulations, pain and agony,  doubt and injury, all for the reward of completing an incredible race. In other words, “putting in that work!”

Along with the culture, comes prominent names that every household knows and loves. There’s Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, Steve Prefontaine, Eliud Kipchoge… they’re at the pinnacle of our culture. They’re legends on and off the track.

For the common folk, there are everyday legends within communities that personify the same feeling. One individual, in particular, is Chris Chavez, the founder of Citius Mag., and a writer and runner born and raised in Queens, NY.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by chris chavez (@chris_j_chavez) on

The Writer

Chris Chavez had dreams that every New York City baseball-loving kid had while growing up in the 90s and 2000s. He dreamed of playing for New York City’s team: the Yankees.  He grew up playing baseball and idolized Yankees legend, Derek Jeter. He wanted to be the heir to the throne.

Unfortunately, the crown does not fit all.

His dream came to a screeching halt when he was cut from the baseball team during his freshman year tryout in high school. He didn’t have that athletic development during crucial summer years from fifth to eighth grade.

During those summers, he attended REACH, a summer program that was geared more towards classwork and philosophy as opposed to sports.   By the time he got to high school, he found himself behind everyone else and didn’t make the baseball team. He thought, what’s one way to stay close to the sport? Sportswriting and media was the answer.

Chris decided to start writing for the school newspaper and worked his way up the ranks. He started as a writer, then a sports editor and eventually found himself as editor-in-chief by his junior year. His goal was clear: “I want to be a professional sportswriter someday.”

In addition to writing for the school newspaper, he was researching and writing for other websites. He wrote for NYHoops covering high school basketball. As a sophomore, he wrote for Bleacher Report. By the time Chris enrolled in college, he had quite the resume as a sports journalist.

The next stop on his journalism journey took Chris to Milwaukee, where he enrolled at Marquette University. Here, he pursued a degree in journalism and became a sportswriter for the Marquette Wire.

During his freshman year, he covered any and all Golden Eagle sports. By his sophomore year, he was the men’s basketball beat writer (shout out to D-Wade and Jimmy Butler). He had a firm foothold in the sportswriting world, however, his true passion wasn’t realized yet.

At some point in 2012, he stayed in on a Friday night and didn’t go out with his friends. He came across a live stream link on Twitter to a FloTrack meet that was broadcast out in California. He watched it and saw all these people running super fast,

“I had just started running in college to avoid the Freshman 15. I knew that I could run a 20-minute 5K, but to see someone running a 13-minute 5K was wild to me. It opened my eyes that there’s more to the Olympics and track than just watching Usain Bolt run for 10 or 20 seconds.”

He wanted to know more about these other athletes and these other people in the sport. So he went back, watched old races, and read everything he could about the sport so that when he watched the London 2012 Olympics he knew more than household names.

That lit this little fire of following the sport and becoming a fan of it. From there, he volunteered at a track meet for FloTrack that summer at New York City’s Icahn Stadium, where all professional athletes competed.

Unfazed by the star power these athletes carried, Chris conducted interview after interview. FloTrack quickly realized Chris’ passion and promptly offered him a chance to cover more races. His repeated success at meets gave way to more opportunities to cover track meets across the country.

From Florida to California to the European circuit, Chris started to build up his experience covering track and field. Even though he was still a college student with a full course load, he managed his time wisely. In his own words, he described his experience as such,

“I sacrificed the college weekends to go and be able to watch people run in circles and ask them a couple of questions afterward, and it was really putting into practice what I was studying.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by chris chavez (@chris_j_chavez) on

His hard work eventually paid off when he landed an internship with ESPN covering major sports. His gig with a notable sports media outlet bolstered his resume and gave his writing a spotlight on the national scene.

After graduating from Marquette University, Chavez took a writing position at Sports Illustrated in May of 2015. His goal was to find a way to get to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.

For a year, Chris worked relentlessly, pushing out robust content. Sports Illustrated returned the favor to Chris by sending him on assignment to the 2016 Olympic Games.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by chris chavez (@chris_j_chavez) on

In the fall and the Summer Olympic Games behind him, Chris needed to recalibrate himself and work towards a new career goal. With the next games being four years away, he was looking to find a way to fill the gap. Since he worked for Sports Illustrated, he was able to indulge in other sports projects, but the passion for running still remained.

To keep his fire fueled, Chris teamed up with a couple of friends in the running world and launched Citius Mag in February 2017.

Citius Mag is an outlet by runners for runners where contributors give commentary, analysis, and humor in the world of running. Featuring takes from elite level athletes to your everyday runner, Citius Mag provides a one-stop-shop for all your running content.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by chris chavez (@chris_j_chavez) on

Chris and his partners at Citus Mag evolved their written content into snackable audio segments through their podcast shows. One of their more popular podcasts, Runners of NYC, is hosted by Chris Chavez and Brooklyn Track Club captain Leigh Anne Sharek, where they share untold stories behind luminaries and legends of New York City’s running culture.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by chris chavez (@chris_j_chavez) on

The Runner

When a young athlete is cut from their school team, a variety of factors come into play as to why. Some are apparent, some not so much. When Chris Chavez was cut from the baseball team in his freshman year of high school, it was a blessing in disguise.

Chris joined the track and field team as a sprinter and lived between the 200-meter and 400-meter distance. His personal bests did not warrant any college offers, but it did ignite the spark that would lead him towards his passion for running.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by chris chavez (@chris_j_chavez) on

Once in college, to avoid the notorious “freshman 15”, Chris took it upon himself to run a few 5Ks for charity. He built up his level of fitness and in return, his confidence in running long distances grew.

His gaze for running eventually fell upon the marathon distance. His goal was to run the New York City Marathon. To increase his running economy, Chris needed to acclimate himself to longer distance runs. He started training for, and running half-marathons as a build-up towards running the full thing.

In 2013, Chris ran and completed the Chicago Marathon, one of the six World Marathon Major courses. Usually, one marathon is enough for people, but not if the running bug bites. And for Chris, it bit hard.

Not only did Chris want to run the remaining five World Marathon Major courses, but he also wanted to break the three-hour barrier while doing so. At this point, his competitive juices were flowing and he wanted to be as accomplished of a runner as he could be. What else could be expected of someone who grew up hustling in NYC?

Being a native New Yorker, Chris is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of running in NYC. He describes his experience as such,

“It’s gritty. I think everyone acknowledges that there are challenges to running every day in New York City, but somehow we find a way to make it work. Whether it’s not having soft surface all the time or the nicest trails, or even just like the time to do it, people still find a way to cram it in. Whether it’s after work or really early in the morning, or taking a drive up somewhere to get on a trail or even Central Park.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by chris chavez (@chris_j_chavez) on

Running in New York City is the gift that keeps on giving. People are out here constantly getting their steps in. There’s no other city where the competitiveness some runners had in high school and college can continue on. And for some, that discovery of a love for running comes in their late 20s or early 30s. It’s really a gift that this city has for the community.

By March 2019, Chris had completed his sixth World Marathon Major course as his strides carried him to the finish line of the Tokyo Marathon. He has lowered his marathon personal best down to 3:06 with his recent completion of the Berlin Marathon.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by chris chavez (@chris_j_chavez) on

Chris is currently training for the Chicago Marathon this fall. Life comes full circle as he is preparing to break the 3-hour barrier on the course where he started his marathon journey.

Months of training all for a single moment. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Runners in Quarantine

In the age of COVID-19, people have been forced indoors, literally and figuratively trapping them in a box. For creatives, these times are tough. We here at Kulture Hub decided to reach out to our community for advice on staying productive and creative.

I asked Chris how he’s dealing with isolation and he seems to be doing pretty well. He is continuing his training program and grinding out ideas and content. He reasoned with me saying,

“People want a little bit of an escape from the news. It’s great to stay informed and keep up with everything that’s happening. But at the same time, it’s like, what else can you think about there are no sports on. You can watch Netflix for only so long so it’s finding a way to entertain people.”

He further detailed his plans for writing about running.

“It’s definitely a challenge, but you have to get creative and there are many different ways, whether it’s podcasts, interviewing people about how they’re coping,  or revisiting some things in the past. There’s a lot of history within the sport of track and field.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by chris chavez (@chris_j_chavez) on