By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(24-Nov) -- Keira' D'Amato's magical year of running continued this morning when she smashed the American record for 10 miles in an all-women's competition at the specially-arranged Up Dawg Ten Miler in Washington, D.C. Running on a multi-loop, certified course in Anacostia Park and against a backdrop of still-vibrant fall foliage, D'Amato soloed to a 51:23 finish time, smashing Janet Bawcom's record of 52:12 set at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile in April, 2014.
"I didn't really have anything prepared to say," said a tearful D'Amato to the small crowd of officials, volunteers, family members and media gathered at the race finish line. She continued: "Thank you to all the volunteers and everyone for coming out and helping. I actually really don't know what else to say."
D'Amato, 36, attacked the record from the start. She needed to average 5:13 per mile, and hit the first mile in 5:10. She had already separated herself from the four other women who were competing, including 2020 USA Olympic Trials Marathon runner-up Molly Seidel. She held a level pace through 4 miles (20:40), but picked it up with a 5:05 fifth mile.
Although the weather was clear and windless for the 8:00 a.m. start, temperatures were cold (the limited group of officials and spectators wore winter clothes). Nonetheless, D'Amato threw off her headband in the fifth mile, and her arm warmers in the seventh reflecting how hard she was working. She clocked 5:03 for mile six and 5:07 for mile seven, building a good cushion on the record.
About 48 minutes into the race, D'Amato got a stitch on her right side. She could be seen on the broadcast rubbing her ribs next to her bib number, and raising her right arm to lift her rib cage, a common technique to relieve stitch pain. Although her final mile was her slowest (about 5:23), the record was never in doubt.
While D'Amato's mark fell short of the absolute (mixed-gender) American record of 50:52 set by Molly Huddle en route at the 2018 Aramco Houston Half-Marathon, it was remarkably close given the fact that she did not have the benefit of any runners near her to help with the pace or to create a draft. She ran the entire course today with only the lead cyclists for company.
Today's record was only one of several great performances by D'Amato this pandemic year, a full-time realtor from Midlothian, Virginia, who does not have a kit sponsor. Before the pandemic in January and February she ran personal bests for the half-marathon and the marathon of 1:10:01 and 2:34:24, respectively, but really began to shine over the summer. She clocked 32:33.44 for 10,000m on the track in July, blasted a 1:08:57 solo half-marathon in October, and a lonely 15:08 road 5-K (course not certified) earlier this month. She used all of these performances, she said, to tune-up for today's race which she helped fund out of her own pocket.
D'Amato, who has a lively sense of humor, gave the race its unusual name which comes from an inside joke between her and her two children, Tommy and Quin.
Behind D'Amato, the other three women who finished posted excellent results. Seidel (Saucony) came in second in 53:36, Emily Durgin (Under Armour) finished third in 54:03, and Susanna Sullivan (Capital Area Runners), finished fourth in 54:22. All of those marks were personal bests.
Today's race was organized by the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, under long-time race director Phil Stewart, and drug testing was paid for by the Professional Road Running Organization (PRRO).