Rudy Chapa

Rudy Chapa
Personal information
Nationality American
Born (1957-11-07) November 7, 1957
Hammond, Indiana
Sport Track, long-distance running
Event(s) mile, 5000 meters, 10,000 meters, marathon
College team Oregon
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 1500 meters: 3:38.7[1]
Mile: 3:57.04[1]
3000 meters: 7:37.70[1]
5000 meters: 13:19.22[1]
10,000 meters: 28:32.7[1]
Marathon: 2:11:13[1]

Rodolfo ("Rudy") Chapa (born November 7, 1957, in Hammond, Indiana) is an American businessman who had a successful career as a runner. He set the US high school national record for the 10,000 meters when he ran 28:32 in 1976. Chapa was one of the most versatile distance runners, with a remarkable competitive range from the 1500 meters to the marathon. He is the son of Mexican immigrants. His father Rodolfo Sr. came to the U.S. as a mechanic through the Bracero program.[2]

Running career

High school

While attending Hammond High School in Hammond, Indiana, Rudy Chapa won the cross-country state championship twice in a row. The first time was in 1974, tying for 1st place in a time of 11:59.8 (2.5 miles) with fellow schoolmate Carey Pinkowski. The second came in 1975 with a time of 11:46.3 (2.5 miles). It was during his high school years that he formed part of a trio of runners from his school that all broke 9:00 minutes in the two-mile run, which he, Carey Pinkowski, and Tim Keough did in 1975. This feat has only been repeated by the boys of Northport high school of New York where 3 boys each broke 9 minutes for the 2 mile run in the same race at the New Balance outdoor national meet, although 2 of its 3 runners were twin brothers. In 1976, Chapa first gained fame as one of the U.S.A.'s great high school distance runners, setting the still-standing national high school record in the 10,000 meters, in 28:321. That same year he also won the Indiana state mile in 4:04.20, a time that held the state meet record until 2011, when it was broken by Center Grove's Austin Mudd, who was competing in the race against Carroll High School's Jonathan Harper.


After high school graduation he went out west to run for Bill Dellinger's famous University of Oregon track and field team at Hayward Field. He went on to earn All American status six times in cross country and track and was a member of Oregon's 1977 national champion cross country team. In 1978 he won the NCAA championship in 5,000 meters while running in front of his home crowd in Oregon. The next year he broke the American Record (AR) in the 3,000 meters at Hayward Field as well, running a time of 7:37.7 to break Steve Prefontaine's AR by five seconds. On May 28, 1981, Chapa joined the sub 4:00 mile club when he ran a 3:57.04 mile in Eugene. While at Oregon he became friends with future marathon world record holder, Alberto Salazar, another Hispanic American distance runner.


After graduating from Oregon, Chapa attended Indiana Law School. While he won some local road races (such as the Sports Med 10K in 29:21 and the Double Eagle 10-Miler in 48:08 in October 1983) Chapa's only performance of note after leaving Oregon came in the 1983 New York City Marathon when he ran a time of 2:11:13 (for 7th place), the second fastest American marathon debut at the time (behind Salazar's 2:09:41 at New York in 1980). In 1999 he was inducted into the University of Oregon athletics Hall of Fame² and was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

After his athletic career, Chapa first served as the global director of sports marketing at Nike, Inc. He then left NIKE in 1999 in order to pursue his own entrepreneurial vision, which manifests itself today as SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, Quickness), a sports equipment and media company.

Awards and accolades



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 All-Athletics. "Profile of Rudy CHAPA".
  2. Oregon Hall of Fame
  3. "Rodolfo (Rudy) Chapa". University of Oregon. Retrieved 10 April 2014.

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Kenya Henry Rono
Men's 3.000m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Republic of Ireland Eamonn Coghlan

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