CONCORD, N.C. – Monday at the Boston Marathon, Jimmie Johnson wasn’t the only Hendrick Motorsports teammate who crossed the finish line.
Chris Moroch, who works in the engine department, also tackled the prestigious event for the first time alongside the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
“Coincidentally, out of 33,000 runners, we were actually in the same corral and same wave,” Moroch said of Johnson. “So, I had seen him on the start line, kind of looked across and he was about 40 feet down. Never saw him throughout the whole race, but we literally ran within minutes of one another the whole duration.”
Moroch completed the marathon in 3:07:41.
Johnson ran a 3:09:07.
After 26.2 miles, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates finished fewer than 90 seconds apart.
“It’s crazy. What are the chances?” Moroch said. “I think throughout the entire course we were probably no more than 40 or 50 feet from one another even though we didn’t see each other the entire time because there were just so many people.”
But when the race was over, the two managed to connect in all the chaos.
Shortly after Moroch crossed the finish line, he heard an announcement over the loudspeaker that seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was set to complete the race within the next minute.
So, he stuck around and watched his teammate’s triumphant finish.
“I went over to him after the race and chatted with him for a bit and just congratulated him,” he said. “I think it was a good experience for both of us.”
It was Moroch’s first Boston Marathon, but far from his first endurance race. Not only has he run several other marathons, he has also competed in a variety of ultra-marathons, races that span 100 miles or more.
With races of that distance, it’s the mental fortitude that Moroch enjoys the most – the ability to perhaps bypass runners in better physical condition simply through sheer will and mental toughness.
He's run races in extreme cold temperatures and extreme hot temperatures, persevering his way to the finish.
Though a 150-mile race might make the Boston Marathon’s 26.2 miles seem meager in comparison, Moroch said the iconic course makes for quite a challenge.
“It kind of reminds me, it’s like the Darlington of marathon-running,” he said. “You attack it too aggressively and don’t respect it, it will come out and get you.”
He pointed to the hills that begin right around mile 17, coincidentally where No. 48 team partner Ally set up its cheering “pit crew” to encourage Johnson and his fellow runners down the home stretch.
And the cheering didn’t go unnoticed by Moroch.
“It’s hard to fathom that for a course of 26.2 miles from point to point that literally almost that entire way you have both sides of people just screaming,” he shared. “They’ve done studies before to where the human cheering, crowd element is worth up to like 10 percent in performance. I totally believe it. Running Boston is just an experience like no other. How loud it is, it’s just unbelievable. That many fans to come out and cheer, it’s a remarkable experience. There’s definitely some motivation coming from that. How can you not run your tail off with a million people screaming?”
Just as it was for Johnson, the experience was a special one for Moroch, who grew up in Connecticut.
Running the Boston Marathon has always been a goal of his, and he was proud to have been able to complete it alongside his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.
“What’s cool about Boston is that it’s such an iconic race that the average person can participate in with a given amount of work,” he explained. “Unlike the World Series or the Super Bowl where you have to be a professional athlete, the Boston Marathon is recognized in that realm, but yet it’s something that the average person with dedication and patience and effort can make it in and be a part of the big show.”