By Dave Dyer
---- — Corey Gobbi and distance running seem so incongruous.
At least, if you knew Gobbi’s background as a two-sport standout at Haverhill High, he wouldn’t seem like a good match as a rising road racer.
Yes, in addition to being a terrific football player, Gobbi ran track, but he was a sprinter with the 400 as a max distance, hitting a 49.5 as both a Hillie senior and a trackster at the University of Southern Maine, from where he graduated in 2011.
It turns out, however, that Gobbi always liked running longer distances and, as a grade schooler, would run in the 5-mile Garibaldi Run in Haverhill.
“I always enjoyed the longer races,” said Gobbi, who now lives in Salem, N.H., and currently works for the state. “I ran the quarter (mile) and sprints in high school more because it helped me for football.”
More than anything, however, Gobbi likes to compete, which is something that needed a new arena following graduation.
“I knew that there wasn’t much sprinting beyond college and I saw it (road races) as a way of staying competitive,” he said. “I wanted to see what I could do at longer distances.”
So far, Gobbi has done quite well indeed and he keeps getting better. He’s regularly among the leaders in local road races, finishing third in this year’s Baldi Run, and he’s been more than competitive at longer races.
Last year, at the Half (marathon) at Hampton, he finished third in a fine time of 1:18 and he followed that up by taking 25th at the BAA half-marathon in an even better 1:16. Now he’s planning to run his first marathon in the fall, either the Hartford Marathon or the Bay State Marathon.
“The longer the distance I’ve moved up to, the more I’ve enjoyed it,” said Gobbi. “I wish I had tried some longer races earlier.”
But Gobbi recognizes that the earlier track competition was helpful to his general speed and thus road racing prowess.
“In certain ways, it (sprinting) definitely helped me, with my running form and the way I run,” he said.
Haverhill track coach Mike Maguire isn’t surprised by Gobbi’s success on the roads.
“Corey had an outstanding work ethic in high school, he liked to work hard and it showed in in his running and football career at Haverhill High School,” said Maguire. “I can’t say that I’m surprised at the success he is having in road racing, it’s a transition that many make after competitively running track through high school and college.”
Despite his rise in the road racing ranks, Gobbi doesn’t have any concrete goals.
“Nothing major,” said Gobbi. “I just do it because I like to run in general, and compete,” he said. “I enjoy learning a lot about training and racing, and I like the atmosphere of races.
“Ultimately, I want to run a marathon and be competitive, but that’s about it.”