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Davila paces American women in Chicago

by Matt Doyle and Jon Corwin
Oct 14, 2008

Desiree Davila

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Desiree Davila completed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2:31:33.

American Desiree Davila exacted some revenge on Sunday. After fading in the final few miles at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in April, Davila crossed the finish line at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in record time. She was the first American woman to finish, with a time of 2 hours 31 minutes and 33 seconds, a personal best.

“I was pretty excited,” Davila said about crossing the finish line as the first American. “It was a big day for me time-wise, and to be able to compete with those athletes was really good.”

Among the athletes was Beijing 2008 marathon gold-medalist Constantina Tomescu-Dita, who came across the line just ahead of Davila.

“The trials will always kind of sting,” Davila said. “[But] I have to focus on the here and now. [I will] move forward and feel confident that if I race smart and well, I can use the momentum to move forward.”

The conservative approach served Davila well. Instead of flying out of the gates, she was able to save energy that she used to her advantage late in the race.

“It was warmer than I expected,” she said. “[But] we accounted for that. It wasn’t as huge of an effect on me.”

With temperatures in the mid-80s, many people worried about the safety of the runners. Davila was able to counteract the weather because she and her team, Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, had a plan.

“We knew it was going to be warm going in,” she said. “We took more of a conservative approach. The heat didn’t take as big of a toll [as] it would have if I was aggressive early. We planned for the weather accordingly.”

The first American male to finish, Mike Reneau, 30, also is from the Hansons-Brooks running team. Reneau finished seventh.

The 25-year-old Davila graduated from Arizona State, where she was an All-American in cross-country and track. This win opens up some future paths for her as well. With the fifth-place finish and her personal best time, she should be on the bubble to compete in the 2009 World Championships for the United States.

“It was definitely a confidence boost for me,” she said. “Some of the names in the field, just seeing their credentials ahead of time, it is nice to know if you race smart you can mix it up on the right day with certain people.”

Davila heads back to Rochester, Mich., just north of Detroit, to continue her work with the Hansons-Brooks team. The San Diego native made the tough transition from the West to the Midwest.

“I finished up college and felt like I still had a lot of potential,” she said. “It is definitely a program that lets you develop, and you don’t have to be a superstar right away. The move from the West Coast was a little rough, but it has worked out just fine.”

Davila will take two weeks off, but plans to pick and choose her races for the rest of the year. There won’t be any more marathons. She plans to run various 5K and 10K runs, but nothing more than a half-marathon to stay in shape.