Inspired runner has Jaluit link

Chris Zablocki (third from left standing) with Majuro and Jaluit runners and track officials in this 2010 file photo. Photo: Giff Johnson.
Chris Zablocki (third from left standing) with Majuro and Jaluit runners and track officials in this 2010 file photo. Photo: Giff Johnson.


The New York Times featured one of the fastest long distance runners alive: Chris Zablocki, a former Dartmouth volunteer at Jaluit High School (JHS) who shared a passion for running with his students back in his teaching days.

For Zablocki, working in the RMI was an exciting prospect, and being assigned to Jaluit made it a happy year. Between teaching and rainbow runner fishing, Zablocki managed to start the first marathon running group on the island, which eventually led to three of its members competing in the annual marathon race on Kwajalein in late 2010 — and beating more than half of the runners at the Army base.

Of the boys — Harrington Torelik, Peter Robert, and Casey Katlong — coach Zablocki expressed how proud he was of their having been good students and tough marathoners. A high schooler in the US who ran a marathon for his senior project told Zablocki how his boys’ time was a whole hour faster.

While he assumes his students ran mainly for the challenge and adventure, Zablocki is sure those are his reasons for running. For him racing is exciting, and during his training he would recount running on Jaluit. “It helped me get stronger. And seeing my Marshallese students race so tough at the marathon on Kwajalein also motivated me!” Zablocki said one of the three Jaluit students lost the nails on both his big toes but completed the race strong anyway.

Time in the Marshalls has given Zablocki “a sunny, relaxed outlook,” he told the Journal. “I don’t worry so much about the worst that can happen” — which could benefit him well mentally in his soon-to-begin career as a doctor, as he’s just recently completed his residency (medical experience). Being a full-time doctor will mean he may need to cut back on racing, but he has no regrets. “I am glad I pushed it to the limit while there was the opportunity because athletics are one of the things you are only best at while young,” he said.

His chosen field of medicine is something that he believes that gives him the ability to be directly beneficial to people. “It was a good way to serve my country, and maybe even serve other patients abroad,” Zablocki said, and added that he would be happy to work now or in the future at Majuro hospital.

To other Dartmouth students, Zablocki highly recommends teaching in the RMI. “You will be able to do something unique that makes a difference,” he said.

Read more about this in the June 22, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.