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Just...WOW! And Twice as Nice!

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

The start of the 42nd Chicago Marathon. (photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

On Sunday, October 13, 2019, the windy city of Chicago lived up to its name. On a cold, windy autumn morning two IDP athletes lined up with 45,000+ other runners to take on the challenging 26.2 mile distance of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The start time temperatures were beyond chilly, and the winds were not exactly kind, but to no one's surprise these two women accomplished some amazing things!

In only her second marathon, Emma took her dedicated training, the lessons she learned in her first marathon last December, the adjustments made to her race nutrition, and put them all to work for her as she powered across the finish line as Top American Woman, 4th overall. Early on in the race she tucked into a pack paced by Ben Bruce, husband to Stephanie Bruce, aiming for a 72:30-73:00 half, along with fellow female Americans Steph Bruce and Lyndsay Flannigan.

Emma running with the pack mid race, just before her breakaway. (photo: Michael Scott)

In the post race press conference, Emma stated that during the first half she didn't want to go out too aggressively, as that is the mistake many people make, getting caught up in the excitement of the race. She felt Ben's group was the perfect one to hang with for awhile and stayed with them for the first half, later commenting that Ben was great and did an amazing job pacing. After crossing the halfway point, Emma had this to say about her breakaway from the pack: "Then I felt really good and started picking it up a little bit, and Ben, was like, 'Just go, just go. Start picking off guys in front of us because you're definitely feeling good, so I don't want to hold you back.' Then I just started finding a guy in front of me and just getting to him and trying to get behind him because it was so windy out there, and I was trying to break the wind as much as I could with some of those male runners, and that helped immensely!" She mentioned that she didn't know who the men were just ahead of and around her, but she wanted to thank them for helping to block the wind for her during that breakaway portion. There was a lot of teamwork displayed by those men and she was grateful.

Emma running strong all alone during the final portions of the race. (photo: retivo.photgraphy)

Emma raced a very strong second half of her marathon pushing ahead at a determined and consistent pace, passing runners along the way, and moving up to 4th place with a few miles to go. The last section of the race she ran all alone. Commentator Tim Hutchings made this call: "Interesting yet, too isn't it that she's on her own, you know? She's having to do make do the work here. It's not like she's got a group of men around her dogging (?) her along...She's tanking along! She's moving so well! Look at the way she went past that guy just now! He's gotta run in the mid 2:20's. She just STORMED past him. She's enjoying this! I mean, she's got to be hurting, but she knows she's running to a fabulous performance!...This could be the 4th fastest time at the Chicago Marathon by an American athlete." Racing down the final stretch Emma waved a thanks to the cheering crowd and crossing the finish line as the first American woman, with a time of 2:25:27, just a whisker off a three minute PR. When asked how she felt about her first Chicago Marathon, Emma said, "I'm super excited, but ready to party!...It was so much fun. The streets of Chicago are electric!" Emma adds her name to the list of favorites for the US Olympic Trials in the marathon...but moving forward her bib will read Ulmer!

Emma powers in for a strong finish with a huge PR in 2:25:27! (photo:@kevmophoto)

It takes some courage to run your debut marathon in Chicago, and that is just what Sam Diaz had and did! She has been training solo in Wyoming, away from her IDP team, and still put her training and boldness together and exceeded her pre-race goals, crossing the finish line in 2:40:59, well under the Olympic Trials qualifying standard of 2:45:00! Sam is the 5th IDP athlete to put their hard work to the paved streets for a trip to Atlanta for the trials.

Sam keeping up the pace on her way to an Olympic Trials qualifying time!

From Sam's post-race Instagram post: "Did that just happen?? *takes a step* Oooph ouch...YES, that what not a dream. Ticket punched for the Marathon Olympic Trials...Atlanta her we come!...probably won't be taking the giant grin off my face for awhile. Feeling lucky to have had SO many friends, family, teammates (new and old!) to share this weekend with! THANK YOU!"

Congratulations to Emma, Sam, and Coach Kameron for an incredible showing at one of the largest racing stages in the world!

Emma's Prerace goals: Top 5 (4th!) ^ - She didn't want to let her Uber driver down!

Huge PR ^

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