Running has been a life-long love for Val Curtis.
“In middle school when we had to run the mile and everyone hated it,” she said. “I really liked it.”
Her first marathon back in 2011 was something she thought she’d do to cross off her bucket list.. but instead, she wanted to do more.
She said, “I love working towards something and improving and achieving goals.”
By her next marathon, she’d take 20 minutes off her time, and a dozen marathons later, she’s reached the race of a lifetime.
“I will get to line up with the best of the best in the country and push myself and see how I end up.”
It’s a dream she wasn’t sure she should chase, even keeping it a secret until she felt confident enough to openly work for it.
“I didnt tell anyone that I wanted to qualify, Curtis said. “I told my husband and he was super supportive but I feel like he would support any wild dream I told him about because he’s my biggest cheerleader and he always believes in me.”
Four years after she set her sights on the Olympic Trials, Val Curtis is one of just two women who qualified after winning the 2019 Fargo Marathon.
She recalled, “When I got to the finish line, it was all of a sudden like, ‘oh my gosh I just won!'”
Curtis will head to Atlanta for the Olympic Team Trials on February 29th.
Although it’s just her two feet that hit the ground running, she says it’s the support of many others that got her this far.
“I feel like on the weeks that are hard or the days that are hard to keep the motivation up, being surrounded by positivity really does help.”
And the days do get hard. The winter elements in North Dakota don’t make it any easier, but overcoming that obstacle also makes Curtis a fierce competitor.
“I don’t know, it’s almost like it proves that I want it more,” said Curtis. “Because I don’t know how many people can stay motivated and deal with it winter after winter and still accomplish their goals.”
And who knows what’s next? If not a race, there will be many more dreams for her to chase.
Curtis said she has 20 of her friends and family members traveling to Atlanta to cheer her on, but the U.S. Olympic Team trials will be broadcast live on Saturday, February 29 on NBC so we can all cheer her on.
The top 3 finishers of the race will then move on to the Olympics in Tokyo.