Chicago Marathon: Keira D’Amato is no longer an outsider


Her husband was at the finish line, speechless. “I crossed the finish line and just waved two fingers at him,” D’Amato said. “I was two minutes from Olympic qualifying time. I didn’t think I would take a three hour break that day. The fact that I was two minutes away from this standard? That’s when it all came back.

She went back to see a trainer, Scott Raczko, who she had worked with after college, to see how far she could go.

D’Amato was in good company: among more than 450 women who qualified for the Olympic trials marathon in February 2020 in a display of the deep amateur talent of American long-distance runners. They included an aeronautical engineer, a first lieutenant in the air force, a teacher, an occupational therapist and an educational advisor. She was also once again racing against professional athletes like Des Linden and Molly Huddle, runners she had faced in college days.

D’Amato finished in 15th place – with a time of 2:34:24. She didn’t make the Olympic team, but it was possible again.

“I never thought these would be my goals again,” she said. “In 2016, when I was pregnant with Quin, a friend asked me if I had ever thought that I would run competitively again. I was eight months pregnant, felt the fittest I’ve ever had, and laughed and said, “No, no, I can guarantee you that I will never compete again. . “

Over the next several months, she exceeded her 5-kilometer varsity time by one minute, set an American record of 10 miles, and cut her marathon time by over 11 minutes, finishing the Marathon Project in Chandler, Ariz., At second place behind Sara Hall with a 2:22:56.

As her times dwindled and her profile became the most recent underdog on the podium, she was supported by runners like Molly Seidel and Emma Bates, who she said had helped her through what she described as the impostor syndrome.

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