Quick Questions with Craig Curley
Craig Curley (Tuscon, Ariz.) enters the .US National Road Racing Championships in 12th place in the men’s USARC standings. During the series, he finished in the top five in the 25k Road Championships while turning in top-10 finishes at both the 15k and Marathon Championships.
USATF: What does it mean to you to have USATF and .US put on a championship road racing event?
CURLEY: For me as an athlete, it feels good to have a support system like that, especially where you can go to a race and know there is the best competition possible on a national level.
USATF: What sticks out to you as a benefit to having elite athletes compete with running enthusiasts?
CURLEY: I got started running local races. In Tucson, there’s the Southern Road Runners; they put on local races throughout the year and it gives a home turf feel to any race. It’s also a good way for people who see us out there to connect with us and our performances, because we don’t really stand out (in uniform) like a basketball or football player, since we’re dressing like a normal runner.
USATF: How excited are you for the opportunity to start a new tradition with the .US Championships in Old Town Alexandria?
CURLEY: I’m definitely excited and it’s going to be my first time to go to Virginia, which is going to be quite the experience for me. The .US National Road Racing Championships are a really great thing because they’re stating that if you place in the top 10, that’s championship-caliber. I find that if you race in USARC, it’s tough to make the top 10. If you’re an elite athlete, you want to run against guys you’re going to see at the Olympic Trials. This is one of those events.
USATF: Tell me where you feel you are physically and mentally?
CURLEY: I took a break in July and started my base training again and just started running. I started with a half in California. For me, I know I can extend my season longer if I have more races to look forward to. After I ran my half, I competed in the Marathon Championship in St. Paul. For the .US Championships, I focused more on speedwork and tried to get my legs back.
USATF: What racing advice would you give to someone who may be competing for the first time this weekend?
CURLEY: I would say, if you’re used to running in a 5k and 10k, this race is going to feel very similar to that distance-wise. I wouldn’t go out as hard in the beginning and I would make sure that you’re really warmed up. At the end of the day, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’re out there to have fun and that’s part of what makes us better. If we fall short on our times, we can’t be too hard on ourselves. Runners have to realize that every race is just a building point so that maybe the next race can be better.
USATF: How did you transition from youth to collegiate/elite running?
CURLEY: I didn’t focus on time in high school; I was always focusing on the runner in front of me and trying to make the next spot. I was just chipping away. If you look at my Facebook, I always talk about hard work and discipline guiding me to a win. I put in the hard work and I’m disciplined and eventually, I’m going to win. It moves into different areas of my life. It sounds cliché but hard work does pay off.