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Saved by BTTT, now advocating for mental health

Chris Paterson started running because he wanted to try triathlons. It was a logical choice since he had been a swimmer and played water polo in high school.

But then his world came crashing down. He lost his job as a golf professional and his family of five — including children who were ages 5, 9 and 13 at the time — were homeless for a couple of years.

“My world sort of collapsed, and my family and I lost everything,” he recalls. “It was devastating. I eventually found a job working for New Balance, and started running again and fell in love with it. It was the only time in my life when I could get my mind clear and focused.”

Still the demons inside raged.

“Eventually I became just overwhelmed with depression and tried to take my own life but luckily was saved by some friends and family,” Paterson says. “I continued to struggle though, again running was the one thing I had.”

Then he learned of Bigger Than The Trail (BTTT) from Rob Steger, the host of Training for Ultra podcast. BTTT is a nonprofit that advocates mental health awareness through trail running.

(I'm raising money for BTTT so that they can help improve the lives of those struggling with mental health. Please consider a donation to help BTTT create opportunities for education, support and treatment for mental health.)

“BTTT in many ways saved my life,” Paterson says. “I had reached a breaking point again, and almost gave up. Thanks to BTTT, I was able to get into therapy, and that has changed my life.”

It has also motivated him to inspire his children.

“The reason I run ultras is for my children,” he says. “I wanted to show them no matter how hard or bad things got for us we could accomplish amazing things!”

Now, back on the right track, he applied for and was accepted as a BTTT ambassador.

“It means everything to me, to be able to spread their message, and help others the way they helped me. I am always here to talk. I’m very thankful for what BTTT did for me. I will always be here for them in any way possible.”

Paterson doesn’t stop there. He’s inspired to help others however he can.

His advice to those struggling as has in the past: “Let others help you. You do not have to fight it alone. It is a fight you will lose if you go it alone.”

Speed drill

Name: Chris Paterson

Hometown: Arlington Heights, Ill. Number of years running: 15 How many miles a week do you typically run: 50 to 60 miles Point of pride: Just enjoying life again. Favorite race distance: 100 miles. Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: nuun Favorite piece of gear: Altra shoes Favorite or inspirational song to run to: Here comes a regular — The Replacements Where can other runners find you:

  • Facebook: Chris Paterson

  • Instagram: @tripatdad3

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