Charleston Distance Run Welcomes Professional Marathoner - Clara Santucci
By: Kayla Dodd
In less than fifteen days, hundreds of runners will take over the Capital City and conquer Capital Punishment Hill. The Charleston Distance Run is thrilled to welcome West Virginia native and professional marathoner, Clara Santucci back to the beautiful state of West Virginia as she takes on the challenge of the Charleston Distance Run 15-miler.
“I grew up in West Virginia and was always interested in and ran several local WV races. I could not run the more professional road races in college, such as the Charleston Distance Run, but this race has always been on my radar,” said Santucci.
Clara remembers her coach, Sean Cleary, mentioning the history of the CDR 15-miler and how the great runners from across the country would come to West Virginia to run the hills. Santucci said, “I have always been proud to be from West Virginia and to run strong and give it all I have got on the hills. The 15-miler is a great way to start my marathon training and fulfill a bucket list race of mine.”
Santucci was competing in the Olympic trials in February of 2016, while an injury occurred and she had to drop out. “I would love to follow in the footsteps of the Olympians and great runners that have run in the CDR. I hope to be the next Olympian and will try again in the year 2020,” said Santucci.
Clara was recognized as one of the top 10 ranked U.S. marathoners by Track & Field News from 2011 to 2014. She was a part of the Team USA Alternates for the 2012 Olympic Marathon and placed 7th overall with a time of 2:30:48. She also took first place at the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2015, with a time of 2:34:06 and in 2014 with a time of 2:32:25. Santucci has been recognized for several other accomplishments throughout her running career.
While Clara always shines a positive light and encourages others to pursue their running dreams, whether large or small, she loves the work that she does with children and aspires to be an inspiration to all. “I love to talk with West Virginia kids and hope to be an inspiration to them. Sometimes you can make a simple connection or give someone a ‘you can do it’ and it means the world to them. People did that for me and I may not be where I am now if they had not done so.”
Clara is currently an American Development Program Ambassador for the Kids of STEEL event within the Pittsburgh Marathon. She participates with the kids events and is part of the Pen Pal program, group runs and Social Media Q&A’s for the group. Since 2005, she has been a part of the WVU Cross Country & Track organization as a camp counselor and speaker. She takes part in organizing group activities, motivational speaking, advising young runners and leading group runs. She has also been a part of other organizations throughout the years that have helped to make positive impacts on young children.
“We are honored to have Clara as a participant at the Charleston Distance Run this year. True West Virginia strength and determination always shine through. Her story shows that and she is an inspiration to us all. We are beyond excited to have her race with us,” said Andrea Beeson, CDR race committee member.
All races start at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 3rd, in front of the West Virginia State Capitol Building on the Kanawha Boulevard, and finish with a final lap around Laidley Field. For more information and to register, visit our website: charlestondistancerun.com.
*This release was submitted by the CDR Race Committee.*