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Spotlight on Sam Diaz - Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier


Sam helping her IDP Team to a 3rd place finish at US Club Cross Championships 2018 (photo:Michael Scott)

Samantha Diaz began running in the 4th grade. The year prior many of her friends had started running and it looked like a lot of fun to her so she joined. They played games when they were done running, including Follow the Leader to a cooler full of popsicles. Sam has competed over a wide variety of distances and terrains throughout her running career. While competitive in cross country, she primarily raced mid-distance on the track throughout high school and college, including the steeplechase her final two track seasons in college. Her senior year at the University of Nevada she broadened her horizons and competed in the 10,000 meters on the track.


After graduating college Sam took some time away from competitive racing, but has returned over the past year and a half. She has progressed to both trail and road racing, having competed in the 10K, 10 Mile, 25K, 30K, Half Marathon and Marathon. She has also raced on the indoor track in the mile and 5,000 meters.



Sam has been busy trying new distances in 2019. First up in March was the inaugural Napa Valley Half Marathon. She left the entire women's field behind after the first mile and ran with the men for the remaining distance, finishing first and breaking the tape in the women's race.


On August 3rd, 2019, she raced the Rendevous Mountain Hillclimb, 6.1 miles on a single track trail to the top of Jackson Hole Mountain. With an elevation gain of more than 4000 feet and finishing at an elevation of 10,450', she conquered the challenging course becoming the women's champion!





A month later Sam raced with several of her teammates at the Payette Lake Run 30K in McCall, Idaho. The course began at 5030' with the course elevation topping out at 5282'. She put the hard work in toward racing longer distances, earning a 3rd place finish.

Sam and IDP teammate Franny working together at the Payette Lake Run.

On October 13, 2019, on a crisp autumn morning, Sam chose the world renown Chicago Marathon as her debut at the 26.2 mile race, crossing the finish line in 2:41:02 and qualifying her for the US Olympic Marathon Trials. Sam stated that the biggest takeaway from her Chicago race was that she learned to embrace her surroundings. Large venues like Chicago (and the Olympic Trials) have such an electric atmosphere. She knows how important it is to take moments during the race, while still keeping focused on her running, to appreciate being there. That makes the race more fun as well!


When asked what makes distance running so special, and the marathon in particular, Sam said that it because it is a whole other beast. It is more raw; there is no hiding, you can't fake it. A marathon is a complete test - mentally, physically and emotionally.


While under the training of Coach Kameron, Sam works out alone in Wyoming the majority of the year. She is spending several weeks in Boise (less snow!) training together with her IDP teammates in preparation for the Olympic Marathon Trials.


Racing on single track trails and higher elevations, Sam is no stranger to adversity during a race. Those experiences will serve her well in Atlanta!


Information at a Glance


Olympic Trials Qualifying Time: 2:41:02

Residence: Jackson, Wyoming

Hometown: Shingle Springs, CA

College: University of Nevada

Age on Race Day: 28

Affiliation: Idaho Distance Project

Qualifying Race: Chicago Marathon 2019

Marathon Best: 2:41:02

Social Handles: Instagram/Twitter - Instagram: @sgdiaz

A lover of nature and birds of prey. Seems happiest when outdoors.

Favorite mantra/quote: When it starts to hurt during a race I remind myself to stay

Smooth - Strong - Confident

Favorite book/why: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach - It is a book that I can go back and reread it at different times of my life and no matter where I am at I always discover something new that I can relate to now.

Favorite post race indulgence: All things sweet, but particularly a good pastry. A bakery is candy land!

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©2019 by Idaho Distance Project