This is a brutal sport, and perhaps no event is more unforgiving than the marathon. But that’s why it makes for such compelling narratives. Each elite race can be an Oscar-worthy drama with a 2:00-2:20 run time (although all movies should be 90-minutes long), and if well presented, should include plenty of engrossing backstory.
If there is one person that fans would have loved to see return to the world stage this summer in Eugene, it’s Molly Seidel. That bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics catapulted her name into the global conversation, but Molly’s popularity into a whole new stratosphere as well, thanks to her candid interviews and inspiring journey, that felt remarkably relatable and yet otherworldly.
Unfortunately for those hoping for another installment in the MCU (Molly Cinematic Universe), Seidel shared this week that due to a tough build-up, which has included a sacral stress reaction and navigating the arduous TUE process for ADHD medication, the World Championships are no longer on her schedule.
Enter Keira D’Amato.
Swapping out qualified athletes for alternates happens on occasion, but the way things have played out here offers a quick glimpse into the challenges of the marathon selection procedure. The original team was offered their spots after the New York City Marathon on November 7th, 2021 — the actual race is July 18th, 2022. On the track, the athletes are already in peak form and only have to maintain it for a few more weeks before representing the US. On the roads, eight months and thousands of miles might as well be a lifetime.
That said, if you need to tap in your alternate, there is hardly a better person than the American record holder in the event. With only two weeks’ notice, there might be some concern that a late entry doesn’t have enough time to find fitness, but that just won’t be an issue for Keira. In May, D’Amato finished second at the USATF 25k Championships, then finished third at the Mini 10k as the top American in a stacked field. And just over a week ago, she won the BAA 10k — she is ready to go, at least for the shorter stuff.
But as anyone who’s run one will tell you — probably loudly, and repeatedly — the difference between racing a 10k and a marathon is 20 miles. So to gear up D’Amato canceled her plans to race at the Peachtree Road Race and opted instead for a 22-mile long run at 5:55 pace, which included 10 miles of tempo work at 5:12 pace. I have praised Keira’s old-school approach before, and that’s not because she is 37 years old. Under the guidance of coach Scott Raczko, she has never been afraid to race any distance, anytime or anywhere — fitness is fitness.
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