Many triathletes and runners wish for an opportunity to chase down a crook who is fleeing from the law, but for Chad Welford this became a reality last week. Welford is the Circuit Clerk in Lucedale, Mississippi and he was at the right place when it mattered. John Samuel Bond who apparently got permission from the judge to kiss his wife before being taken into custody, used the opportunity to flee the courtroom. And then came Chad.
Slowtwitch: Chad I am glad we get to chat.
Chad Welford: Thank you for taking time to hear my story.
ST: Did you get a workout in before you went work on Thursday, and if so what was it?
Chad: No, with Circuit Court taking place I like to get to work early. So, I moved my 5-mile run to that evening.
ST: And what exactly do you do?
Chad: I was elected Circuit Clerk in 2007 and took office January 2008. My office handles all Circuit Court records including attending all court hearings. We maintain judgment rolls, voter registration, absentee voting, issue marriage licenses and assist the Election Commissioners in conducting elections.
ST: Where in the courtroom do you sit, and is it always the same spot?
Chad: Yes, I stand directly to the left of the judge’s bench.
ST: Previously, what is the most exciting thing that has happened to you at work?
Chad: We deal with a lot of people. So you never know what to expect.
ST: When John Samuel Bond escaped, how quickly did you jump up to go after him?
Chad: I had turned around facing the judge and did not know he was escaping until my Deputy Clerk said he just ran. I would guess it was 3-5 seconds. I took the backdoor which leads down a steep set of stairs directly across from the main courtroom stairs.
ST: What kind of shoes were you wearing in that chase?
Chad: I wear boots 99% of the time. However, on this day I had my black suit on and decide to wear a pair of black dress shoes.
ST: Will you try them out during your next proper run?
Chad: No, but I have thought about wearing my shoes and suit the next time I enter a costume 5k race.
ST: Was there anyone else chasing after him?
Chad: Yes, we had one deputy and the warden who happened to be in the courtroom give chase and a bailiff down stairs that tackled him as he was leaving the courthouse. However, he managed to get free. This gave me time to see which way he was running.
ST: How long did it take you to catch him and what were his first words?
Chad: I would guess it took me about 1 minute to catch up to him, and then I followed him for about 2 more minutes before he “ran out of gas” and tried to hide in the shrubs. I was wearing a suit and tie. It was extremely hot with high humidity. His first words were “I can’t breathe. I’m going to throw up”. Once he was in custody I walked back to court and continued with my normal duties.
ST: After work did you get to chat with various local newspapers and TV stations about your adventure?
Chad: After lunch on Thursday the Sun Herald called me asking about the chase. Then on Friday Rip Daniels with WIZD 94.5 “It’s a New Day “called me, and we did a live radio interview.
ST: You have apparently been running for about 3 years now, and that includes a recent Disney Half. What did you do before?
Chad: I have been lifting weights for 10 years very consistently. I had a total spinal fusion at the age of 14 due to scoliosis. I have found that exercise has reduced the amount of lower back pain I encounter on a regular basis. I completed several local 5k races over the last 8 years. A friend that I work with was always talking about running 10k races and Disney Marathons. This got me more interested in running, and he encouraged me to complete my first half marathon.
ST: Was the Disney one your first Half Marathon and how did it go?
Chad: Yes, I had prepared for Disney 2017, but the night before the race a storm was coming through, and Disney had to cancel the race. I immediately decided to register for Disney 2018 and was determined to complete what I had started. I had set my goal of running a sub 2-hour half marathon. I started out with a 9 min pace and was able to maintain that pace for the entire race. I finished with a 1:57 time. I was very excited about my accomplishment but was more proud that my wife was able to complete her first half marathon with me.
ST: How much running are you doing now?
Chad: I have just started my 13 week training plan for Ironman Augusta 70.3. I am running about 12 miles per week and cycling about 50-80 miles per week.
ST: What about swimming?
Chad: My biggest problem is being able to control my breathing. I joined West Mobile Banditoads Triathlon Club a few weeks ago and have a couple friends that are working with me on my swimming and other segments of the race. I try to work on my breathing and other techniques in my pool most afternoons.
ST: The 2017 Hub City Hustle was apparently your first triathlon. What made you sign up in the first place?
Chad: A couple of my running buddies talked me into doing my first triathlon with them. I was able to complete the race 5 minutes under my goal. I have been hooked ever since.
ST: On a used bike you bought?
Chad: Yes, I bought a used Trek 1.2 on Facebook. I’m in the process of buying a 2012 Specialized Shiv.
ST: I believe you also rode your first 100-mile ride in 2017.
Chad: Yes, I have now completed the Southern Magnolia 2017 and the Hattie 100 in 2018 on the same used Trek 1.2.
ST: Are you excited or nervous about 70.3 Augusta?
Chad: I am very excited about 70.3 Augusta. I love setting new goals [for myself] and working to accomplish them. I will spend the next 12 weeks training as hard as I can to accomplish the goal of completing my first Half Ironman.
ST: Are any friends of yours doing this event with you?
Chad: Yes, Jason Bowie has signed up too. Jason has completed several 70.3 races and decided to do 70.3 Augusta just to help me complete my first one. His advice and experience will help me be prepared and successful.
ST: Which segment of the race do you think suits you best and which one needs the most work?
Chad: Cycling by far is my best segment. Swimming needs lots of work.
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Chad: I just want to thank the men and women of George County Sheriff Department and Lucedale Police Department. Our Law enforcement officers do this on a daily basis and this one time I was able to help them catch the suspect. We should be grateful to the men and women that risk their lives everyday so we can do the things we love.
ST: Fully agreed here.