When Shane Curran found out the fall season had been canceled, he could have packed it in.
Instead, he packed on the miles.
Curran is a senior at Father Judge High School and is one of the top distance runners in the Catholic League. He had a long list of goals to accomplish in his final year as a Crusader, but a few weeks before it started, it ended when the league announced it would postpone the fall season because of the coronavirus.
“I was devastated, I couldn’t believe it,” said Curran, who lives on the border between Parkwood and Morrell Park. “I was so upset. I couldn’t believe that everything I wanted to do in my final year wasn’t going to happen. I just couldn’t believe it. It was terrible. They say we might play later, but we were ready for this year and then we found out it wasn’t going to happen.”
Curran was in the middle of training for the season when the word came down. The week it was announced, he was putting on about 65 miles a week in preparation for the start of the season.
Instead of giving up, he gave it everything he had.
Last week, Curran wrapped up an intense week of training that saw him run 72 miles. The goal was to hit 70, but he went an extra two for good measure. After he completed it, he was greeted with balloons and a small celebration in honor of the massive accomplishment.
But he doesn’t run for the accolades. He does it to get better.
“I’m in a running club with a lot of the guys from the team, and that’s what it’s all about,” Curran said. “We push each other. I knew getting 70 miles would be tough. I usually do double training. I’ll run once at 5 a.m. and then around 5 p.m.
“When I run by myself, I’ll usually run around the Northeast Philly Airport and by the soccer fields. When I run with the club, we’ll run through Pennypack Park. It’s great to run with a group. It’s a great group. We all want to get better.”
Curran now runs around soccer fields. Not that long ago, he was running on the field. He grew up playing soccer and when he got to Judge, he was a member of the freshman team. He signed up for cross country to get in better shape for soccer.
Once he got running, he loved it and gave up his first love.
“I didn’t want to quit soccer, but I knew if I was going to move up, it would be really hard to do cross country and soccer,” said Curran, who was Second-Team All-Catholic as a freshman and First-Team All-Catholic as a sophomore and junior. “I ran track in grade school, but I never did cross country. I did a 5K for prostate cancer because (my grandfather) died of prostate cancer, so I would run them with my dad. But I never did cross country.
“A lot of it was because of my coach (Kevin Schultz), he helped me get better. And as I got better, I started liking it more. I have fun running and pushing myself.”
Curran still has high hopes for his senior year.
The Catholic League has not closed the door on having a season. It said the season is postponed, so the hope is sometime in 2021, the fall athletes will get a chance to play. If that doesn’t pan out, it doesn’t mean Curran’s Crusader career is over.
He also competes on both the indoor and outdoor track teams, running the 1,600-meter and the 3,200-meter races. Assuming the coronavirus pandemic lets up, he’ll be able to participate in those sports.
“I just like running distance, and I think there’s a chance we can get cross country season in,” said Curran, who took 11th in the PCL championships last year and 12th in the District 12 championships. “Running is a different sport. There’s not a lot of physical contact, you can make sure you’re spaced out. Maybe we’ll have a way to have the season.
“I had a lot of goals for my senior year. I wanted to qualify for the state championship meet and improve on my times. I wanted to set a school record at Belmont Plateau, which is like our home course.”
Curran also has a goal of finding a school where he can continue his running career.
He shouldn’t have a problem. He has all the talent to be a runner at the college level, and he is ranked 21 in his senior class, academically. He’s hoping he gets a chance to get back on the course, but either way, he shouldn’t have a problem getting an opportunity. He just wants the right school.
“I want to run and I want to have a school that has my major,” said Curran, who hopes to study occupational therapy. “It’s a great job where you can make a difference. You take people who need help learning how to walk again or dress themselves. You can help them get their lives back.”
Now he’s just looking forward to getting back in school and hopefully back on the track with his team. Until then, he’ll just keep putting in the work.
“I’m really happy with how we’re doing things, my school, we’re going two days a week one week and three the next,” Curran said of the hybrid plan that also includes online learning. “I learn better in school, so I’m glad we’re going in.
“I hope all the work I’m putting in helps with our season. I’ve been working, I would be starting now with the season, but since that’s not happening, I’ll continue to run. I just hope I’m able to run again.”