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Amy Moritz's Running: Allie Kieffer sets a new standard for Buffalo runners

When we first met Allie Kieffer in July, she had burst on the Western New York running scene, breaking the American record at Buffalo's Subaru 4 Mile Chase. The elite runner had moved to the region from New York City in January and quickly had set a new standard for women runners in the 716.

Check that. A new standard for all Buffalo runners.

In September, she was the overall winner of the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon, winning the race in 1 hour, 14 minutes and 13 seconds. She finished over a minute ahead of the first overall male, Vincent Donner of Niagara Falls.

Oh, and the win came on her 30th birthday.

It was one of the regional highlights of 2017, which included being the first American woman at the Boilermaker 15K in Utica, second overall at the Tops 10K.

But there are bigger dreams for Kieffer, who finished fourth at the recent USA Track and Field 10 Mile Championship.

There's the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5 where she is entered in the elite field, looking to make her mark among the American women.

It's all in service of 2019, the year she hopes to compete in the 10K in the IAAF World Championships.

But first, back to that day when she ran from Lewiston to Porter and became the first female to win the overall title at the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon.

"I didn't expect to win either," Kieffer said. "I was kind of just out there to run a certain pace for the race, just doing my thing. I happened to be in the lead. I think I was really confusing some people on the course. They were expecting to see a guy in the lead.

"Even the little kids at one of the water spots yelled, 'C'mon second! You can get her!' People were excited to see a girl in the lead and it was just cool to be able to do that. It's nice to get a good pat on the back for some hard work. Sometimes you work hard and you don't really get recognized for it."

That recognition is starting to come not just at races, but during training.

"It's so funny. I was doing a 20-miler at Delaware Park, so I was did something like 11 loops of Delaware Park and someone was working there out of a landscaping truck," Kieffer said. "The guy yelled "ALLIE!" and I'm like 'Who are you?' I didn't know the person, but I smiled and waved."

It's part of the welcome Kieffer has felt since becoming part of the Western New York running community. She joined the running group Checkers AC and found a group that not only made her better, but helped keep running, and marathon training, fun.

"They have been amazing," Kieffer said. "The community in Buffalo, I felt like once I opened myself up to them, they just totally took me and are super nice. I couldn't do the training without the Checkers club.

"People can get really selfish in running," Kieffer said. "It's about what I need to do, what's best for me. The guys that I’m running with ask what I want to do that day and we find something that works for all of us. That hasn't happened any other place I've lived. Last week, I was doing a 20-mile hard run. One of the guys met me for the last 10 miles. The whole thing didn't work for him, but with him joining me for the last 10 miles, that helped me incredibly.

"It's just that desire to help each other and not be so selfish. I think in running individual sport and easy to become so selfish and do only what your coach prescribed for you when in reality there are a ton of things that can benefit you. Running in Western New York, there are just really good people."

Kieffer returns to New York City to make her debut in that marathon. While she had run the distance before (including setting the somewhat obscure indoor marathon world record in 2016 which was broken this year), Kieffer hasn't specifically trained for a road marathon. She continues to gear up for the marathon with confidence tempered with some uncertainty.

"I think it's gone well, but I've never trained for a marathon before," Kieffer said. "I ran two marathons before, but I signed up for those last minute. Now the competition is really hard and I need to bring my A-game. I’ve done a lot of long stuff and feel pretty confident, but it's always a little bit of a question. There are a lot of unknowns."

Running Calendar

Sunday, Oct. 8

  • Holy Cross 5K Mass Run, 7:45  a.m., Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, 345 Seventh St., Buffalo.
  • Homeless Female Veterans 5K, 11 a.m., American Legion South Buffalo Post 721, 136 Cazenovia St., Buffalo.
  • Lew-Port Glow Run, 5K, 7:30 p.m., Lewiston Porter High School, 4061 Creek Road, Youngstown.

Saturday, Oct. 14

  • St. Mark's Get Set, Go! 5K, 9:30 a.m., St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 61 Payne Ave., North Tonawanda.
  • Marilla Trail Race, 14-miles, 7-miles, 3.7-miles, 10:30 a.m., Marilla Reservoir, 1131 West Washington St., Bradford, Pa.
  • Niagara Falls Firefighters Christmas Toy Drive 5K and 10K, 10 a.m., LaSalle Waterfront Park, Niagara Falls.

Sunday, Oct. 15

  • Niagara Falls International Marathon, Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K, 9 a.m., various starting locations.
  • Ride Walk and Run, 25K Trail, 10K Trail, 5K Trail, plus various walking distances, 9 a.m., Wellsville High School, 126 West State St., Wellsville.
  • Lou Reuter Scholarship Run, 5K, 10 a .m., Ben Franklin Middle School, 540 Parkhurst Blvd., Buffalo.
  • Monster Scramble, 5K and 10K, 10 a .m., Holy Cross Cemetery, 2900 South Park Ave., Lackawanna.
  • Pumpkin Run, 5K, 1:30 p.m., Gateway-Longview Lynde School, 6350 Main St., Williamsville.
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