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(29-May) — Even elite athletes have bucket list races, and for former USA marathon record holder Keira D’Amato the Delightful Run For Women (formerly the Freihofer’s Run for Women) has been high on her list.  The 39 year-old D’Amato has wanted to do that classic all-women’s 5-K in Albany, N.Y., for years, and this Saturday she’ll be on the starting line for the first time.  It will be the 46th edition of the race which was founded in 1979.

“I am so excited,” D’Amato told Race Results Weekly in a telephone interview from her home in Virginia.  “I’ve had this race on my radar for years.”  She continued: “I’ve always wanted to do it and it finally worked out this year.”

D’Amato, who dropped out of the 2024 USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon last February after 20 miles, is using the Delightful Run as part of her preparations for the USA Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field next month in Eugene, Ore., where she’ll run the 10,000m.  She and coach Scott Raczko had already planned for her to do a fast three miles this weekend, and D’Amato thought that doing it in a race would provide her with an extra level of motivation.

“I was going to have to do, like, a quick three miles this weekend,” D’Amato explained.  “So, it’s really easy to substitute that for a race because that would have mirrored what I would have simulated in training.  To me, it’s much more fun to do it in a race.”  She added: “Training has been going well, workouts have been going well.  I feel like my speed has been coming back.”


Moreover, D’Amato would love to get a win.  She hasn’t won a race since last October when she won the Abbott Chicago 5-K –held the weekend of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon– in 15:51.

“This year I don’t have a lot of wins under my belt,” D’Amato observed.  “My coach and I were like, Keira, you’re having the most fun when you’re racing.  I think going to a race and just competing, and getting back to the core of what I love about running, I think that would be really good for the season.”

D’Amato is coming off a DNF at the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs in London 11 days ago.  She had hoped to hit the Olympic Games qualifying standard of 30:40.00, or at least run well enough to raise her ranking in the World Athletics points system.  However, the conditions weren’t to her liking, and about three quarters of the way through the race she decided to step off the track.

“It was warm and it was humid and I realized about four miles in that I wasn’t going to hit the time I was going for, and it wouldn’t help my ranking,” D’Amato said.  “To be really honest, track is a lot harder on my body than the roads.  It takes me a lot longer to recover from a track race than a road race.  When I realized I wasn’t hitting the time I wasn’t going to risk something going wrong with my body.  I really thought I was in shape to hit the Olympic standard.”

The Delightful Run for Women should also help D’Amato sharpen up for the Mastercard New York Mini 10-K which takes place in New York City a week later.  D’Amato will face a loaded field there, including the 2024 USA Olympic Marathon team of Fiona O’Keeffe, Emily Sisson and Dakotah Lindwurm.

“Before a fast 10-K next week, hopefully running something a little bit faster this weekend will just help my body get ready to go out hard in that 10-K,” she said.

Looking ahead to the race in Albany –where her top competitors will be Anne-Marie Blaney, Jessie Cardin, and Amy Davis-Green of the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project– D’Amato has studied the fast, out-and-back course.  The overall event record is 15:12 by Kenya’s Emily Chebet set in 2010, and the fastest time ever by an American is 15:25 by Marla Runyan in 2003.  The race had served as the USATF 5-K Championships for women from 1993 through 2004.

“I’ve seen that you kind of climb a hill, run around a lake, and climb back down,” said D’Amato, who delivered that line like a stand-up comic.  “It seems like a course where experience running it will be helpful.  I’ll go around Friday and run it just to make sure I know what I’m doing.”


PHOTO: Keira D’Amato finishing fifth at the 2023 Mastercard New York Mini 10-K in 31:23 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)