NAMPA, Idaho – When cumulative points over seven events trumps an outstanding individual effort in any one event, a guy like Duke’s Curtis Beach is in a weird place – even if he runs the fastest race in the world.
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The six personal records Beach set along the way would not mean a thing if he didn’t beat Wisconsin’s Japheth Cato by 21 seconds in the final event – and his specialty – the 1,000 meters. Beach did what Beach does. The junior from Albuquerque, N.M. won going away running a world record 2:23.63 and finished with 6,138 points to take the heptathlon title at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships Saturday.
“I’m just happy I gave 100 percent effort because that is what I came to do,” Beach said. “I went as hard as I could and got a huge PR in the 1,000. My previous world record was in the heptathlon and it was nice to have that record again and push it further.”
The run of a lifetime came from a lifetime of running. Beach has been doing distance events since he was seven. He relies on that heavily in his training since he spends the majority of his practice time on sprints and throws where the most points are. Having that middle distance background and being from New Mexico he said helped here.
“It’s just a physical thing,” said Beach. “Growing up at altitude and it being altitude here could not have been better. I think even mentally, knowing what it feels like to push yourself really hard helps. Just knowing how you can be really tired and still go really fast. A lot of lessons I learned through doing distance running back home and general conditioning carried over to today.”
The advantage he had of his best event being the last event cannot be overlooked. But Beach knows that in this competition, that doesn’t guarantee victory.
“That’s what makes the heptathlon awesome,” said Beach. “You can have totally different athletes, with extremely different marks from event to event and still end up with the same score at the end. Everybody has their events. I’m a great 1,000 guy and Cato is a great pole vault guy. The way it turned out we were just right there in the last event. I was just fortunate enough to have a great meet and come out on top.
“Even though I ran that time, I didn’t know if it would be enough to win. I didn’t know how fast the guys behind me were going to run. I run this great time, and it’s amazing, but I don’t know if I’ve won yet because the scores don’t come up until a minute after everyone is done. I was glad I gave my best.”
In Beach’s eyes, the effort given already made him a winner. He said had he done less and still won, it would not have been as gratifying as winning the title. For him it is the process and not necessarily the end results that matters more.
“It’s really nice to win, but I’m really proud of the fact that I gave 100 percent effort in every single event,” Beach said, who is a half a second off from the world record in the 1,500 meters in the decathlon with 3:59. So that’s something to shoot for.
“I came in with a great mentality and did the very best I could. I’m completely satisfied with that. I would rather me do my best and finish second than me win the whole thing and not do my best. To have the win, too, makes it extra special.”