Get to know Chris (Bernie) Gosselin, Heartbreaker, Boston College Alum ('01 with Coach Dan & Justin), & ambassador of goodwill to all. Captain Liz Higgins thought you should get to know Bernie a little better. Here's Liz:
"When thinking about the community that the Heartbreakers has cultivated, in my experience no one embodies this community better than Chris (Bernie) Gosselin. He’s the guy who will show up whether you need a running buddy or a drinking buddy- you’ll catch him handing out water along the marathon course in Newton, at Track Tuesday running with the Badass Blues, and at breweries around town drinking with the Heartbrewers. Bernie joined the Heartbreakers 3 years ago; he’s a beer enthusiast, Disney afficionado, a self-proclaimed recovering lawyer, and Dad-to-be! Learn more about him here:
So the people are dying to know… where did the name “Bernie” come from?!
Well, I joined an adult kickball league ten years ago and there was another Chris on the team so everyone started calling me “Other Chris.” After enduring this for the entire season I found out the other guy’s real name wasn’t even Chris, it was Bernard Christopher! I decided that if he could steal my name I could steal his, and I’ve been Bernie ever since. I can actually trace the roots of my friendship with everyone who calls me Bernie, including Heartbreakers, back to that kickball team.
How did you transition from kickball to the Heartbreakers?
I found Heartbreak through Dave Levy. We became friends while running Ragnar Cape Cods (along with Julie Mitchell, who was also a member of the aforementioned kickball team). Dave and Julie both joined Heartbreak early on, when the team was first getting together, and it took me a couple years to follow their lead. By the time I joined, kickball was fading out and I thought Heartbreak might offer the chance to meet a group of friends with similar interests who were also social and would be fun to hang out with. I was right.
Tell me about your favorite races to run.
Traditionally my favorite races are the Ragnar and Reach the Beach overnight relay races. My favorite part about races is not racing… it’s the people, the atmosphere, and the camaraderie, paired with some element of a physical challenge. It’s the best when that feeling gets spread out over 36 hours!
You are a big fan of a physical challenge… you’re Perfectly Dopey. Tell us about that.
Yes, the Disney Dopey Challenge spans 4 days with the race distance doubling each day. It starts with a 5k, then a 10k, Half Marathon, and finally a full Marathon. A “Perfect Dopey” is someone who has completed the challenge every year since the race began. This year the (virtual) race, which I plan to run here in Boston in early 2021, will be my 8th year, although the “perfect” count has been paused for the pandemic so it won’t technically count as year 8. That will happen in 2022.
Disney races are very well-run, though they’re not particularly competitive. The races begin at 5:00/5:30am so I set my alarm for 2:30 to give myself enough time to have a bit of food and coffee before catching the bus to the race start. It’s January in Florida, so I’ve stood around waiting for the race to start in 25 degree weather and 75 degree weather, sometimes in the same weekend, but no matter the temperature the energy is always great. There are so many people doing their very first race ever. They are so proud of themselves, and it’s amazing to watch them cross the finish line. For me, it’s about that on-course experience – as a Disney fan it doesn’t get any better than running up Main Street in the Magic Kingdom before dawn and seeing the castle frosted in white holiday lights. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to have a good friend track you down during the last half mile of the race, they might even hand you a beer so that you can cross the finish line with celebratory drink in hand.
How has running been for you during these quarantine times?
Honestly, my running hasn’t been as strong as I would like it to be, in part because even though running is an individual sport, with the Heartbreakers it feels like a community sport. With the pandemic, it’s much harder to enjoy the community in the same way as when we all show up to the track together on Tuesday morning. I like getting out for a run to clear my head though, and I notice a significant benefit when I am done. Even on a bad run, I am always happy that I’ve gotten out there.
What’s your favorite Heartbreak session or event?
Oh Mob Mile! It’s the best. There’s a big group of people, the weather is typically nice, and we get to party after which is always fun. I remember a moment from last year’s Mob Mile - I had already run and we were all standing around cheering, I had my shoes off and my toes in the grass and I remember feeling deep gratitude and sheer joy. What more could you ask for?
Any closing thoughts?
Listen, I love the Heartbreakers because of the people. I think it’s driven from the top down, with great leadership, but I also really think that it’s bubbled up organically. If Heartbreak was just a way to get a structured workout I might delete the emails even if they were free. On the other hand, if Heartbreak couldn’t send me workout emails but somehow keep me in the community, I would still pay. That’s why I like to show up even when I’m not running to work a water stop or to cheer. It’s the interpersonal connection that keeps me here.
And the gear. We have cool gear.