Super Runners Among Us: Bobby Niska

Posted on April 22, 2016

If you frequent the treadmills in the Wellness Center, chances are you may recognize B.R. Ryall YMCA member Bobby Niska. The 23-year-old makes running (at a very fast pace) look effortless, though he explains that it took a great deal of effort to get where he is today.

A member of the Y since his family joined when he was 8 years old, Bobby spent many years frequenting the Aquatic Center—from taking swim lessons to eventually teaching them and lifeguarding as a teen. It was during these years—as a freshman at Wheaton-Warrenville South High School—that he started running as well. Bobby remembers being slow and struggling. Running did not come easy, but he was committed and persevered to develop a true love for the sport and become successful—making the state team his senior year.

After running as a freshman at North Central College, Bobby decided he wanted less structure so that he could commit to training for and running marathons. He ran his first, the Illinois Marathon in Champaign, in 3 hours and 15 minutes in April 2012. Since then he has run 17 more, including Wisconsin, Chicago, Boston, Berlin, Indianapolis, Quad Cities, New York City, Kauai, Ft. Lauderdale and Naperville. And he has no plans of stopping any time soon; his goals are to run a marathon in every state, continue to improve his time (his personal best is 2:44), and get sponsored by a shoe company.

You can find Bobby in the Wellness Center almost any morning of the week, racking up between 8 and 15 miles on the treadmill during the week and as many as 20 miles on weekends. He has also taken advantage of the Y’s personal training program for guidance on strength training. Loyal to the Y, Bobby says he feels comfortable here and has developed many close, long-time friendships. He looks forward to running the Y Run 5K on May 21. After all, he feels prepared now that he squeezed in a good “practice” run at Boston Marathon.