Keira D’Amato fell short of breaking her own American marathon record at the Berlin Marathon, but after a busy year of racing so far she still finished in 2:21:48 to finish sixth overall. Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia was the winner after running a massive PR of 2:15:37 to set the Berlin Marathon course record.
Like Eliud Kipchoge in the men’s race, the women’s field went out at a mind-bending pace to start, with D’Amato doing what she could to hang on. By her half split of 1:09:27, she was more than a minute behind the lead pack of women, but still on pace to break her American record of 2:19:12.
The next 15K, however, D’Amato slowed just enough to fall off that record pace. By 35K she had picked up enough speed to work her way back into the top 10, and moved up a few more spots in the closing kilometers to finish in sixth.
D’Amato, 37, has had a stunning year. In January in Houston, she ran 2:19:12, taking 24 seconds off of Deena Kastor’s previous American record, which had stood since 2006.
After recovering from Houston, D’Amato raced frequently in the spring and summer at shorter distances, racking up multiple top-three finishes and a win at the B.A.A. 10K in June. Earlier in September, she ran 1:04:29 to win the 2022 USATF 20K championship in New Haven, breaking the 24-year-old course record.
On July 1, D’Amato was named to Team USA to run the World Championships marathon, replacing Molly Seidel, who was injured. The late swap gave D’Amato less than three weeks to prepare for the marathon.
She finished eighth at the Worlds marathon in Eugene, Oregon, in 2:23:34. American Sara Hall was fifth in 2:22:10, and Emma Bates was seventh in 2:23:18.
D’Amato pushed herself so hard in Eugene on less than ideal training that she was briefly hospitalized the following day.
Going into Berlin, D’Amato had made no secret of her desire to lower her own American record. She set the record in Houston even though she wasn’t feeling her best on that day, and she had wondered how fast she might run if she had been having what she considered a good day.
Her buildup to Berlin began with the World championships marathon, continued with hard training through the humidity of the summer in Midlothian, Virginia, where D’Amato lives. D’Amato and Kastor are the only two American women to break 2:20. D’Amato turns 38 next month.
—Additional reporting by Sarah Lorge Butler
Johanna Gretschel is a freelance writer and broadcaster living in Austin, Texas, who has covered elite track and field and running in all its forms. She contributes to Runner’s World, ESPN, Austin American-Statesman, FloTrack, MileSplit, Women’s Running and Podium Runner. Yes, she has run a marathon!