Running with a purpose

Craig Bachrodt is taking on a 100-mile run in the Colorado Rockies to honor mothers and raise money for charities.

Craig Bachrodt remembers his first run with a specific sentimental clarity. “My earliest and fondest memory of running was with my mom when I was 14. It was a snowy night in my hometown of Rockford, Illinois,” Bachrodt, 54, says with a smile. “The night was nearly silent other than our feet making gently crunching sounds over the three inches of snow as we ran straight down the middle of Inverness Drive. Just my mom and me. I still remember it like it was yesterday.”

Already an all-around athlete, that snowy-night

run led Bachrodt to add running to the long list of sports he competed in as a youth.

“My mom, who ran and was always a fit woman, believed children needed to get outside to run, play and be active. She drove me to baseball, swimming, golf, tennis, football, soccer, snow and waterskiing practices and competitions. Soccer was my favorite,” shares Bachrodt, whose mother, Sarah Bachrodt, was an internationally known abstract artist. “But now I added a love of running, both track and cross-country. I would take the bus from my middle school and be dropped off at the high school to practice with the varsity track team. I enjoyed a successful freshman track season before we moved to Boca Raton in 1981. I continued to run on the cross-country team through high school and did well.”

Sarah Bachrodt
Craig Bachrodt with his mom, Sarah.

Bachrodt’s running became recreational when he attended the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication. He kept running as he began his professional business management career, adding road and mountain biking to his workouts.

“My mother was very successful in molding me into someone who believed in lifelong fitness,” he says with a grin. “I just can’t imagine not being a physically active person, no matter how busy my life gets. It is part of who I am.”

In addition to an active lifestyle, the other constant in Bachrodt’s life has been the family business of owning car dealerships.

“My grandfather owned car dealerships and my father, Lou Bachrodt III, continued on in that business. My father currently owns car dealerships in Pompano Beach and Coconut Creek here in Florida,” explains Bachrodt, who is involved in the management of his father’s dealerships. “I guess it was only a matter of time before I owned a car dealership. In 2001, I bought Palm Chevrolet and moved to Ocala.”

Finding the Greenway and Love
Shortly after moving to Ocala, Bachrodt was introduced to the Cross Florida Greenway trails system by local mountain bikers.

Craig Bachrodt running at the Land Bridge Trailhead in Ocala.

“I was absolutely amazed by the Greenway and what a gift it is to have it right here in Ocala,” he notes. “While I was still running, I began to spend more and more time on the mountain bike trails.”

Not only did Bachrodt fall in love with the Greenway, he also fell in love with Anna Redgate, an art teacher at The Cornerstone School. Redgate, whose 9-monthold daughter Grace was killed by a drunk driver in 2000, was also the founder and CEO of YouImpact, an online program that supports the court and probation systems by offering an alternative to traditional victim impact panels for convicted drunk drivers.

“Anna quickly became the love of my life,” says Bachrodt, his eyes brightening. “I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.”

Anna and Sarah

In fact, Redgate played a large role in Bachrodt’s first participation in a Leadville Trail Series race. In 2015, he took on the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, which is the mountain bike race of the series.

“Anna and my trainer Beau Chavez, from the Institute of Athletic Performance in Ocala, were the best support crew for that mountain bike race that anyone could ask for,” says Bachrodt, who finished the event in 10:13.54; the 10 being 10 hours. “It was a great experience and I started thinking then about coming back for the Leadville Trail 100 Run.”

With that in mind, and having accomplished the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Bachrodt refocused his attention on running. His increasingly long runs were with his friend Chester Weber around the Weber family’s expansive Live Oak Stud property and on the Greenway trails.

“The great thing about trail running is that you can run on the same trail every day and it’s always different,” Bachrodt points out. “Nature is never stagnant and surprises you on every run with a different experience.”

Craig with Anna
Redgate

Seeking Solace
On April 15th, 2017, Bachrodt lost the love of his life when Redgate died at 48.

“After Anna passed away, my runs on the Greenway trails gave me time to be with my thoughts and memories,” shares Bachrodt.

Over time, he dealt with his grief through running. “People would always tell me that I looked like a marathon runner,’’ says Bachrodt, who has been a vegetarian since 1997. “But I hadn’t run any marathons, so I started thinking maybe that I was something I should do.”

In 2019, Bachrodt ran two marathons three weeks apart. First came the Lake Tahoe Marathon on October 14th-16th, where he finished the 26.2 mile-distance in 4:01.35. That was followed by the New York City Marathon on November 3rd, which he finished in 3:49.21.

“I loved running those marathons and decided I definitely wanted to do more,” he says. “And then COVID-19 shut down everything, including marathons, in 2020.”

Not to be deterred, Bachrodt ran solo marathons, 16 of them in 12 months, on his own just for, well, because he loved the training process and the experience of completing the goal. He also began extending his miles beyond the marathon distance. For his 53rd birthday in 2020, Bachrodt did a 53-mile run in the Greenway.

“I found that I really liked long-distance running. Road runners run in miles while trail runners run in hours,” notes Bachrodt, who kept challenging himself. “In the summer of 2021, my friend Rami Ghandour and I ran across Yosemite National Park with Aspire Adventure Running. We ran 99 miles in four days, and it was fantastic.”

Throughout his running evolution, Bachrodt says his mother was his biggest fan.

“My mother was always excited to hear about my adventures,” he shares. “After she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2021, she moved in with me. And she ended up being the reason that I finally decided to do the Leadville Trail 100 Run.”

While Bachrodt had been considering returning to Leadville, this time for the 100-mile run, he says, “I never had a big enough ‘Why?’—the reason one needs to get through those long miles.”

On October 26th, 2021, Bachrodt had a phone call with his running coach Jason Koop, a wellknown accomplished ultrarunner, coach and author. The subject of Leadville again came up during the conversation.

“As soon as I got off the phone with Jason, I asked my mom if she thought it was a good idea for me to run the Leadville 100,” says Bachrodt, who used his cellphone to video tape the moment. “She replied ‘Yes.’ Then I asked her again and, with a big smile and a giggle, she enthusiastically replied, ‘Absolutely!’ So I had my answer.”

Three days later, sometime after going to sleep, Sarah Bachrodt suffered a massive stroke. She passed away in the early morning of November 5th, 2021, at 78.

“During my mom’s last few days, and with that video for inspiration, I knew I would run the Leadville Trail 100 in her honor,” says Bachrodt. “I finally had my ‘Why.’”

Expanding the Why
While running on the Greenway trails shortly after his mother passed away, Bachrodt was thinking of her and of the major role she played in shaping his life. And he thought about how many people felt the same way about their mothers as he did about his. In but a few strides, he had an epiphany.

“I decided to run Leadville not just for my mom, but for other moms and for charity. So, I created run100formom.com,” explains Bachrodt. “Through that website, anyone can donate any amount in the name of their mom, or their grandmother or aunt, any woman who nurtured them and encouraged them to get outside and be active. People can designate a charity if they want to and I want them to post their stories on the website to share with others.”

Bachrodt, who has long donated to charities such as PACE Center for Girls – Marion, Save The Children, Smile Train and GO Campaign, is hoping to raise $100,000 and will match that with another $100,000 for several charities.

“We should hold in reverence our mothers and the other women in our lives who play such a big role in making us who we turn out to be,” Bachrodt offers.

With the Leadville Trail 100 Run on August 20th in his sights, Bachrodt has been steadily increasing his weekly running time from an average of seven to nine hours a week and will progress to 20 hours. The record time for the Leadville Trail 100 Run is 15:42:59, set by Matt Carpenter in 2005. In addition to the distance, the race in the Colorado Rockies features elevations of 9,200 feet to 12,000 feet.

“I’m going to do a self-supported training camp in Leadville the first weekend of June,” notes Bachrodt, who also has his weekly coaching phone sessions with Koop. “And then I’ll run the Leadville Silver Rush 50 Run on July 9th. That run starts at 10,000 feet and reaches 12,000 feet on four separate occasions.”

Craig stretching before a run at the Land Bridge Trailhead in Ocala.

Bachrodt is savoring the training process and anticipating the experience of the Leadville Trail 100 Run.

“I’m a very coachable, goal-oriented person and I love to run,” he says, adding, “But running for run100formom.com is going to make it even more of a great experience.”  OS

To learn more and support Bachrodt’s run for charities, go to run100formom.com

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