By: Alina Zheng
As she crossed the finish line, Keira D’Amato cherished the feeling of surpassing her limits. She finally did it. Now with a winning mentality, D’Amato began to work harder than ever and went on to break records.
On Sunday, January 16th, 2022, 37-year-old Keira D’Amato broke the women’s marathon record, which had been standing since 2006. After fourteen years since a major injury, which forced her out of running, D’Amato completed the Houston Marathon with a time of 2 hours 19 minutes, and 12 seconds.
After she finished the race, she asserted to herself, “I could go faster.” With newly sparked determination, she began to conquer one goal at a time.
D’Amato became a four-time all-American at American University before she began to mainly focus on running. She joined a professional running team coached by Scott Raczko, who had mentored Alan Webb when he broke the men’s U.S. record for the fastest mile in 2007.
However, because two bones in D’Amato’s left foot were wrongly connected, she had to undergo surgery that her insurance didn’t cover, so she retired. She began working as a realtor and established a life beyond running competitively.
Eventually, in 2009, D’Amato had surgery. Though she didn’t expect herself to peak after the surgery, she didn’t give up on running.
In 2013, she participated in her first marathon, hoping to qualify for the Boston marathon.
D’Amato kept running as a hobby, and soon her marathon times dramatically decreased. In 2016, D’Amato ran a time of 3:14:54 in the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach while sleet and frozen rain battered down on her. In 2017, she crossed the finish line with a time of 2:47:00, which was only two minutes short of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic trials. Because D’Amato realized her potential in running, she turned to her former coach, Raczko.
In February 2020, she clocked a time of 2:34:24 at the Olympic trials. That same year, D’Amato beat the U.S. women-only 10-mile record by a minute with a time of 51:23, which led Raczko to think through D’Amato’s limits.
Not long after, D’Amato and Raczko established their goal to break the women’s marathon record.
After D’Amato accomplished her goal, she found that the belief in her abilities in addition to hard work has helped her overcome challenges and set new limits. They have also opened new opportunities for her to thrive.
On a June morning, D’Amato was placed as a substitute for Team USA. If one of the three U.S. runners decided to drop out, D’Amato would be able to accomplish her lifelong dream of representing the United States in the world track and field championships marathon in Eugene, Oregon.
Two weeks before the championships, she received a phone call from Team USA offering her a slot on the country’s national running team. She jumped at the opportunity and spent the next two weeks practicing as she prepared to go against the world’s greatest athletes.
D’Amato finished eighth in the marathon with a time of 2:23:34, showing that no matter the circumstances, one can always achieve their dreams.