Former 'Nova star taking the next step

Bobby Curtis will make his marathon debut in New York.
Bobby Curtis will make his marathon debut in New York.
Posted: August 10, 2011

Bobby Curtis already has established himself as one of the best distance runners in the United States, having won the 2008 NCAA championship at 5,000 meters while competing for Villanova and clocking the best time by an American this year in the 10,000.

So the natural temptation would be to take the next step and tackle the 26.2-mile marathon. That's exactly what Curtis will do Nov. 6, when he makes his debut at the epic distance in the ING New York City Marathon.

"I guess all distance runners at some point in their life want to see what they can accomplish in a marathon," Curtis said Tuesday. "So I want to see if I have the talent to go the marathon distance. I'm 26 now and I feel like this is the time."

Curtis, who is from Louisville, Ky., but also lives in Wayne, will be one of four runners introduced Wednesday as part of the New York Road Runners "Class of 2011" making their marathon debuts.

Curtis made headlines on May 1 at Stanford's Payton Jordan Invitational when he ran the 10,000 in 27 minutes, 24.67 seconds. It was the best time run in 2011 by an American and seventh-fastest all-time.

However, in June he fell two seconds short of qualifying for the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in South Korea. His time of 28:42.50 at the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., put him fourth, two seconds off the third and final qualifying spot.

"It was disappointing, but it's better that it happens in a world championship year than have it happen in an Olympic year," he said. "I will take that experience and learn from it and make sure it does not happen in an Olympic year" next year.

Curtis conceded that he "may have peaked a little too early" in the 10,000, but added that he was very pleased with the year.

Curtis has overcome problems with insomnia that started affecting him during his Villanova career. He tried everything to find a normal sleep pattern but nothing worked until he stopped stressing about the lack of sleep that triggered the insomnia.

"I don't know if I've outgrown it or what," he said. "For the last year and a half, it hasn't been a problem."

Curtis said his only competition before his marathon debut will be Sept. 18 in the Philadelphia Half-Marathon. Then he will train at altitude in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., to prepare for New York.

As for his expectations, Curtis believes he'll be all right if he can stay with the lead pack.

"I'm going to be cautious, especially if some guys in the pack come up with a ridiculous move that I can't stay with," he said. "But I'd like to run a good time. I'm going to try to be cautious and aggressive at the same time."

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or

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