Ultra-marathoners, marathoners, runners, walkers, coaches, high school students and parents enjoyed an evening with keynote speaker Desiree Linden on Sunday, January 28 at the Parkview Mirro Center during the 40th Annual Fort Wayne Running Club banquet.
Desiree referred to the runners as “friendly” Fort Wayne and told her story of becoming a professional marathoner. Her first running experience took her to a track at 5 years of age where her parents ran, in San Diego, California. As she grew up, she played soccer and softball but found those sports to be boring. Then, she experienced track and field. Loved it. Pushed through high school and was recruited in college while attending Arizona State studying psychology, to run short distances, ie., 5K or 10K. “How many laps is that?” she would inquire of the coach. Desiree Davila excelled. And she loved the sport of running.
After college she reached out to see if she would fit into the running world as a post-collegiate runner. This was her opportunity to keep running. She said that she would love to join a professional team but…”I’m not doing a marathon!”
Hansons-Brooks running team from Michigan area brought Desiree on board to “train together, compete together, live together, and wake up early for a day of running together.” This is the Hansons-Brooks mantra, and it worked. The Hansons-Brooks Distance Project is an OD (Olympic development) program, for post-collegiate distance runners, located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Dedicated athletes come together for training on nutrition, psychology, rest, running and more training. Desiree said, “I love the training aspect of running and competing with myself. There are no limits.”
In 2011, Linden wowed the marathon world when she placed second at The Boston Marathon. Her second place finish was an incredible 2:22:38, setting an all-time U.S. record on the Boston course and made her the third fastest American female ever. She was 2 seconds shy of the win. Hitting all of her goals, she kept climbing, and went on to finish as runner-up in the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX. However, she had a setback when she fractured her femur. Mentally she had to set some goals. She had to learn how to run, and, love the process of running properly. Desiree said, “It was really, really hard to comeback. To train properly.” From then on, even her vacations consisted of running. Running in Kenya. Getting up at 6am and running with everyone in Kenya. She spoke of how everyone in Kenya runs all over, all the time. That is where she started to appreciate running. “I started to put my heart and soul into running.” In 2016, Desiree made the team placing 7th in the Olympic Marathon in Rio de Janeiro.
Desiree has competed at Boston and other world majors and, is in the 2018 Elite Field for this year’s 122nd running of the Boston Marathon on Patriot’s Day, Monday, April 16th.
At the end of her presentation, local runners were able to ask the 34-year-old Olympic marathoner questions. Her advise for training to run well, “You gotta keep showing up. If you do, you will go further than you think is possible.”
Desiree expressed that the friendliest marathon in America is in Richmond, VA and she said that Fort Wayne runners were definitely “the friendliest runners in America.”