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A 37-year-old mum retrained as a runner and just set a new American women’s marathon record


By Sarah Finnan
18th Jan 2022
A 37-year-old mum retrained as a runner and just set a new American women’s marathon record

History was made over in the US this past weekend where not one, but two women’s distance running records were broken.

There was huge cause for celebration over in Houston this Sunday after two new women’s distance running records were set – one by half marathoner Sara Hall, the other by American runner Keira D’Amato. 

The half marathon came to an end first with Hall crossing the finish line in second place after just over one hour and seven minutes… managing to shave a full 10 seconds off the previous record set by Molly Huddle at the 2018 Houston Half Marathon. Coincidentally, Hall’s husband, Ryan, set the American men’s half marathon record in the same place 15 years earlier – a record he still holds. 

“It’s taken a decade and a half of grinding, persevering, overcoming to have the same moment I watched Ryan experience effortlessly 15 years ago,” she wrote on Instagram. “I wanted to have those moments too – but instead there was so much disappointment. Times of not understanding why I felt in my spirit that I was supposed to keep doing it at the professional level. Seasons where few understood or supported me in it. The struggle of figuring out how to do it at the level I was capable of while still being a present parent. Picking myself back up over and over— as recent as last Fall,” she continued.

“I hope that whatever the thing is you know you’re called to build and create – even if it doesn’t make sense, even if others don’t understand – seeing this helps you believe you can do it too.”

About an hour later, D’Amato was declared the overall winner of the women’s marathon, setting a new American record for the women’s marathon running in the process. Smashing an almost two-decade-long record with her time, D’Amato finished the course in two hours, 19 minutes, and 12 seconds; 24 seconds faster than the 16-year-old record set by Deena Kastor at the London Marathon back in 2006. 

“I can’t believe this,” D’Amato said in a post-race interview. “I’m really, really happy.” Coming to the race with a personal best of 2:22:56 from her last competitive marathon run in December 2020, the Virginia native said that she felt much fitter this time around and fully intended to go after Kastor’s record. 

What makes her result even more impressive is the fact that she took almost seven years off in the middle of her career. A standout athlete back in her college days, D’Amato quit running competitively soon after due to a foot injury, only coming back to it in 2017. Signing her husband up for a marathon as a joke, she agreed to help him train before deciding to join him and run the race too. A couple of years later and the 37-year-old mum of two is a US record holder. 

“Part of me just can’t believe this is happening, and the other part is like, this is happening because you’ve worked your tail off, Keira,” D’Amato said on the ABC 13 broadcast. “You’ve worked so hard to get here, but like what?! I just feel like dreams come true, you know?” Embraced by her family upon crossing the finish line, their presence was really special to D’Amato who said that they’ve been a big part of her road to victory. “I mean, they see me day in and day out, leave for a run and come back like an hour or two later. So, they’ve been part of this journey and part of the sacrifice. And when I crossed the line and they were there, oh man. It’s just one of the happiest moments of my life.”

Celebrating her win over on Instagram, D’Amato shared a selection of photos from the race, admitting that she’s been on a “roller coaster of emotions for days”. “The thought I keep coming back to is how proud I am that I found the courage to give running a shot again and attempt to tackle all this ‘unfinished business’. Goals, similar to marathons, can be scary as crap… but again, with a little help from my friends, we had the courage to try… Is this real life?!?”