When Amanda Marino laces ’em up to compete in the United States Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, she’ll be the beneficiary of a shoe deal.
The Asbury Park resident is under contract with Brooks.
“As much as I love my sport,” Marino said on her Facebook page, “it’s not always easy to justify the time, energy and money it takes to keep the fire burning over the last 16 months. I have been grateful for the support of @brooksrunning. ”
The event will take place Sat., Feb. 29, at 12:20 p.m. It will be based in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. It will be nationally televised on NBC.
Marino, the former Jackson Memorial High School and Villanova University distance queen, was approached by Brooks’ sports marketing manager a few days after the 2018 Chicago Marathon in which she was 184th overall in 2:38:04. There were 44,584 overall finishers. The executive explained Brooks was assembling a small team to represent the athletes at the trials and offered Marino the opportunity to join the team.
“Over the next few weeks,” said Marino, who was 13th among 20,650 women’s finishers and fourth in the women’s 25-29 age group, “I learned more about my role in the collaboration, which included training and racing in prototype shoes that would eventually be released to the public. Once they selected all of the athletes, Brooks nicknamed our group the Hometown Heroes since we’re all elite runners who have full-time jobs and balance training with normal responsibilities as opposed to professionals who make a living off of running.
“I am beyond proud to announce I will represent the Brooks Hometown Heroes. I wasn’t looking for anything. It was more of a unique opportunity that was offered to me.”
Marino will compete wearing the Hyperion Elite, which will be available for purchase beginning Feb. 29.
“I chose the shoe because it contains new technology, including a carbon plate and a special type of foam that allows for more energy return with each step,” she said. “This type of innovation has become widespread across all major running shoe brands. I wear the shoe about two times per month for faster portions of workouts. I more often wear the Hyperion Tempo for marathon-paced effort running and the Ghost 12 for general aerobic runs. The Hyperion Elite helps me maintain a strong running stride even in the later stages of a long-distance race.”
Marino said she enjoys being under contract with Brooks.
“It feels good to be able to represent a company that puts 100 percent focus into running,” she said. “Brooks is unique in the sense that it is purely a running brand. The deal wil last until the Trials, giving me 1 1/2 years of support.”
The deal has helped Marino with her marathon related expenses.
“Financially,” she said, “the support from Brooks has helped me immensely over the last year. When I’m running a lot of miles, I go through a pair of general training shoes every three weeks. On tap of that, I burn through lightweight trainers since they do not last as long and I need to wear them for every marathon-paced run.
“Brooks has covered all of that, which will end up saving me thousands of dollars. They have also given me clothing such as running tights, jackets, tank tops, shorts and hats. On top of that, they gave me a stipend to cover my travel expenses for the Trials. They give me a stipend each season to purchase anything I want from their catalog.”
The top three finishers will earn berths on the United States Women’s Olympic Marathon Team, which will compete in August in the Olympics Sapporo. It will not take place in Tokyo, where the Olympics are based, because of dangerous levels of heat, according to Marino.
“My goal is not to qualify for the Olympic Marathon since I realistically will not be able to compete with the professionals,” she said. “My goal is to finish in the top 10 percent at the Trials, which will consist of about 450 runners. It more than doubles the amount who have ever competed at previous trials. However, only about 60 have qualified by running the A-standard, and I am one of them (Marino qualified in 2:35:04 at the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN., on June 22 of last year, beating the 2:37 qualifying time).”
The 5-foot-3 Marino said the course for the Trials is difficult.
“The course is extremely challenging–perhaps one of the most challenging Trials courses in history,” she said. “It will consist of three eight-mile loops and one 2.2 mile loop to finish. The total elevation gain is approximately 1,500 feet and some of the hills are very steep. It looks like the temperature will be in the 50s. I do not have a time goal since the course is very challenging.”
Team Marino–Marino’s helpers–will be well represented. Her brother, Matt; sister, Gina; her dad, Sal; her stepmom, Jane; her fiance’, Jarett Huneke of Asbury Park; his best friends; her coach of 2 1/2 years, Hector Matos, and friend-former elite runner Rich Byrne, will be on hand to assist. Her high school coach, Glenda Calabro, and much of the Jackson Memorial coaching staff will work at the race.
“And that’s not even everyone!” said Marino, who will represent the Leonia Track Club. “I’m very grateful for the amazing support I’ll have out there! I am beyond excited to have the biggest and most enthusiastic support team since I began running.”
Working remotely as a publisher’s representative at Macmillan Learning where she helps professors choose print and digital course materials, Marino trains in Tallahassee, Fl. She preps for the most part at the JR Alford Greenway, Lafayette Heritage Trail Park, St. Mark’s Historic Railroad Trail and on the clay roads of Old Centerville Road on the Florida-Georgia border.
“Knock on wood, the training has been going well,” said Marino, who competed in the Trials in 2012 in Houston and in 2016 in Los Angeles. “I’m training to acclimate to heat and humidity. There is an extensive trail system so I’ve been training on hilly and challenging terrain to become strong for the course in Atlanta. I have done most of the training buildup in Florida away from my friends and family. I am fortunate that Macmillan has allowed me to work remotely during this time. Training in Florida has allowed me to put 100 percent focus into training and recovery.”
Marino has placed the emphasis on carbohydrates–rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, bananas and granola. A typical dinner consists of a big bowl of rice with stir-fried vegetables and chicken. Her main protein sources are chicken, salmon, tuna, lean beef, eggs and greek yogurt. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cheese and crackers serve as snacks.
An important step in Marino’s training was the Chevron Houston Half Marathon. She was 185th overall of 13,433 athletes, 47th among 7,445 women and second among 1,017 females in the 30-34 age group.
“It is historically a very competitive race so I chose it in the hopes that there would be many fast women to run with,” she said. “It ended up working out great because the fierce competition helped me run my fastest half marathon (13.1 miles) time.”
Marino, 30, has completed eight marathons in eight attempts.
“Since I have trained for quite a few marathons at this point, I physically feel strong,” she said. “Of course, there are days when my body feels beat up, but working through it is what builds toughness for the race. I’m starting to work more on the mental side by writing in a journal and building my confidence.”Marino, a 103-pounder, conducted a video chat with Newton High School in Covington, Ga., near Atlanta, to benefit its track and field athletes prior to their major meet.
“It’s refreshing to witness pure curiosity about the little things we can do to improve,” she said during the chat on her Facebook page. “Always keep it fun even during the tough times this sport can bring.”