Miles of motivation: Santucci chases mark during Olympic trials

February 12, 2016 - garden totes

Sunrise Thursday and Clara Grandt Santucci glimpses out her window during a Hollywood letters projecting opposite a Santa Monica mountains.

She’s headed out of her hotel for an early training run. Last week she felt hamstring tightness, yet then, no one expects a ideal rave to these Olympic marathon trials. She woke adult to a news that American record-holder Deena Kastor had cold given of a stretched glute. Four years ago Kastor edged her by 6 seconds for a final Olympic swap spot.

Four years haven’t dulled a disturb Santucci felt racing alongside her idol, perplexing not to act starstruck nonetheless throwing herself thinking, “Oh my goodness—she’s awesome!”

Santucci’s time during a 2012 trials, 2:30:46, would have competent her for a 1996 U.S. organisation and would have led a trials in 2000 and 2008. That day it was good adequate for seventh.

“It’s still a best competition I’ve ever run,” pronounced a two-time Pittsburgh Marathon champion. “It usually incited out to be a best Olympic trials there have ever been.”

Only 24 years aged and different in chosen using circles when she missed out on a London Games, Santucci has been using toward Rio de Janeiro ever since. Getting there approaching requires using a competition of her life Saturday opposite a built field, on a march that twists by L.A landmarks like Staples Center, a University of Southern California campus and a Los Angeles Coliseum, where Joan Benoit Samuelson won a 1984 bullion medal.

Santucci has watched video of Samuelson’s finish, that occurred for years before her birth.

“Now we get chills whenever we see a stadium,” she says.

Just dual some-more sunrises to go.


Her father changed a family from Illinois to farming Doddridge County when Santucci was a child. He found a single-room schoolhouse and put his carpentry skills to work creation it a home.

“It was beat-down and looked like it was 100 years old, yet my father had this prophesy of what it could be,” she said. “It finished adult being a good small place to grow adult in a country.”

Santucci appreciated how a low-income upbringing made a 5 children—raising chickens, given garden, baking bread with their mom from grains they ground. They also stockpiled timber for a winter, that saved them during a snowstorm that knocked out appetite for 10 days.

“That meant no H2O for us,” pronounced Santucci’s mother, Diana Grandt. “So we had to warp sleet and we huddled around that timber stove to stay warm.”

“It was a bare-minimum lifestyle and we worked for what we had. Now we consider about how we competence lift my kids, given there were some things it was good for me not to have. we conclude things and I’m so beholden for what we have.” — Clara Santucci

Grandt home-schooled a children, and Santucci complicated rigorously for spelling tests, meaningful a prerogative for a ideal measure would be bullets to glow from her .22 rifle.

“I desired aim practice,” she says.

Without a radio a kids also grew feeling with hiking a forests, swimming in a circuitously creek, and when Santucci had some-more appetite to expel, she ran adult and down a sand highway in front of her home. Around age 9, after saying a print of gymnast Kerri Strug’s one-foot alighting during a 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Santucci was sparked. So she went acid for a sport, “something we could be good at.”

That began with a outing to a village library, that was housed in a trailer, where her mom checked out books for home-schooling. Santucci review adult on gymnastics, tennis and ice skating—“all a things we saw in a Olympics”—but a family didn’t live circuitously training comforts and couldn’t means to compensate a manager if it did.

Unable to find a sport, a competition eventually found her.

Santucci begged her approach to attending open propagandize in fifth grade—“I told my mom we was waste and we wanted to accommodate people”—and shortly was using a mile-long aptness exam in gym class.

“The other kids were doing it given they had to, yet we took it seriously,” she said. “I usually wanted to see how quick we could go around a small gym 21 times.”

She finished in 7 minutes, and a P.E. clergyman summoned her to a bleachers. He constructed a journal writing of a curtain who had recently damaged a school’s 2-mile record. He told Santucci, “This is going to be we someday.”

Submitted photo

Clara Grandt Santucci became a state champion cranky nation curtain during Doddridge County High School.



West Virginia University lane and cranky nation manager Sean Cleary recruits athletes of inhabitant and general acclaim, maybe nothing so driven as a fragile-looking internal lady from Doddridge County High School.

One of 15 cranky nation All-Americans Cleary has coached, she stays a usually one who growls.

He listened it while sauntering adult behind Santucci during a use as associate All-Americans Keri Bland and Marie-Louise Asselin sprinted past during a speed workout.

“I listened her growling, and we meant growling,” he said. “I went ‘What is that?’ And she says, “It usually creates me so insane they can scurry like that.’ That would be Clara. When she puts her boots on to race, there’s a enterprise that’s really rare.

“While she’s soft-spoken and peaceful and really kind, she’s nasty inside. What’s going on in her conduct during a competition is she wants to destroy you.”

“While she’s soft-spoken and peaceful and really kind, she’s nasty inside. What’s going on in her conduct during a competition is she wants to destroy you.” — WVU lane manager Sean Cleary

Fresh out of college and lacking endorsements, Santucci was struck by a existence that she competence never mangle even running—much reduction acquire a living. Then, in 2011, she posted a overwhelming 2:29:54 in her initial marathon, that usually happened to be a Boston Marathon. She finished 16th on a women’s side, placed third among Americans and warranted her initial sponsorship.

A 2014 feat during a Pittsburgh Marathon “put her on a whole new level,” Cleary says, yet it was her 2015 repeat that rang some-more demonstrative of her rival guts.

Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton hold a 2-minute corner during a behind half and competition directors were holding a Kenyan dwindle during a finish line. But when Santucci listened how she had shaved off 33 seconds in a camber of one mile, a opening didn’t seem insurmountable.

Pittsburgh Marathon

Clara Santucci collapses into a arms of a competition central after rallying to win a 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon final May.

“Her eyes illuminated adult and we could see another fire,” Cleary said.

Living in circuitously Dilliner, Pa., Santucci had lerned on a course. Now she kept reminding herself, “These are my hills. These are my hills. They’re mine.”

Upon finally shutting within steer of Tuliamuk-Bolton during a 23-mile mark, a quip gained another swell once Santucci saw a personality glancing back.

“That’s a pointer she’s not meditative about a finish line. It means she’s really sleepy and she’s disturbed about you. Of march I’m tired, too, yet we can’t demeanour tired. You have to pass her with certainty and demeanour like you’re not spiteful as most as she is.

“So we straighten yourself up, put on a swell and make certain she can’t insert to we and draft. Basically, we run by and leave no hope.”

Cleary had seen Santucci bypass higher athletes before. He hopes she can do it again Saturday in Los Angeles.

“Clara is not fast. She was one of a slowest kids in a module ever. But Clara has got some-more stamina than anyone I’ve ever met. If there was a competition where they were going to run adult Mount Everest, she’d substantially win.”

Image of Sport

Clara Grandt Santucci, shown during a 2010 NCAA Track Field Championships, became an All-American during West Virginia.



Santucci logged so many miles on her Keds in center propagandize they became riddled with holes. Eventually she saved adequate income mowing lawns, weed-eating, housecleaning and baby-sitting to squeeze her initial span of Nikes, boots that sojourn a souvenir to this day inside a receptacle bag.

The child who came of age creation boots final for years now tears by a span a month, interjection to continuous six-days-a-week training. There’s a 4- to 5-mile run any morning, another 10 to 12 miles in a afternoon. Extended runs on Sunday cover 20-plus miles.

“On Christmas Day a world-class marathoner substantially runs 17 miles,” Cleary says. “There’s no time off. It never ends, regardless of weather.”

Even as Winter Storm Jonas blanketed a East Coast, Santucci ran over a ice and by a snow, usually like she envisioned in center propagandize when her good grandmother splurged for a subscription to Runner’s World.

Saturday, however, will be unseasonably comfortable in Los Angeles, where temperatures approaching to stand into a 80s. That’s a cause Santucci deliberate when blending in treadmill work with a thermostat pumped up.

“The feverishness really will delayed down a pace,” she says. “People will be some-more endangered about creation it by a whole competition though attack a wall. It depends on who total out how to be regressive adequate and who competence go over a corner too early and come crawling in.”

The margin facilities a 3 Olympic qualifiers from 2012 and a low collection of new contenders—some of whom have posted extensive personal-bests yet haven’t matched Santucci’s consistency. Cleary projects 3 or 4 favorites with Santucci in a close-behind organisation anticipating to gain on race-day mistakes.

“That’s because she’s been training for 4 years—to be prepared for a impulse when a doorway opens.”

Allan Taylor

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