February 20 2018
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It’s only January 18, and Allie Kieffer is already having one heck of a year. After placing fifth in the TCS New York City Marathon last November (scoring a 26-minute PR in the process), Kieffer realized that, after spending years believing that earlier injuries had sidelined her from professional running for good, she actually had a chance to join the American elite squad. So, she took a few weeks off after New York and reevaluated her training strategy. During a conversation with Women’s Running in December, Kieffer hinted that she hoped to score a Team USA bib for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in March (read our March 2018 issue’s “Meet the Elite” page, on newsstands February 6, for our full Q&A); however, first she planned to tackle a different half marathon in January. That half marathon took place on January 12 in Doha, Qatar–and guess what? Kieffer won.
Kieffer’s time of 1:10:40 in the Ooredoo Doha Half Marathon beat her previous 13.1-mile personal best by nearly four minutes, implying that whatever her new training regimen is, it’s working. “After New York City, I went to Colorado and trained with Hudson Elite,” Kieffer explained. “Every single workout just got monumentally better. [Hudson Elite founder] Brad is super encouraging; he lit the fire that I could be a lot better, even better than [I was in] New York City.
“I started to believe that; so when I got to Doha, I wanted to win,” Kieffer said. “I didn’t know much about the competition, since it was an international field. But I thought I’d have to break 1:11:00 to make the world team. We went out pretty slow–I was tripping over my feet–so I went off to get on record pace. I eventually caught up to a group of guys, and they blocked the wind for me.”
Kieffer is planning to run another half marathon later this spring, in addition to a spring marathon (to be announced). For her next half marathon challenge, two of the races she’s considering include the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships on March 24 and the New York City Half Marathon on March 18. In the meantime, she has temporarily relocated to Iten, Kenya, where she’s altitude training with some of the best runners in the world–including Betsy Saina, one of the few women who has run a 10-kilometer distance in fewer than 31 minutes. “I’m training with a pacer,” Kieffer said. “I can coach myself, but I think everyone needs someone to hold them accountable and push them. Part of the reason I came to Kenya is that I want to become a champion, and the best way to do that is to train with the champions.”
The running world is beginning to take notice of Kieffer’s ambitions. Last week, Oiselle announced Kieffer as the newest addition to its running team, a group that already includes professional athletes like Kara Goucher and Lauren Fleshman, as well as running bloggers and influencers like Kelly Roberts and Kelly Herron. “Our approach to athlete sponsorships has always been focused on rising stars who have a story to tell,” Oiselle CEO Sally Bergesen said in an official press release. “From the day Allie shocked the world and finished as the second American in last year’s NYC Marathon, we knew she had drive and talent.”
Kieffer began talks with Oiselle shortly after the New York City Marathon, after fellow top 10 marathon finisher Stephanie Bruce offered guidance. “I’ve been around the sport for a while, but never where I was trying to figure out my own contract,” Kieffer said. “Stephanie has a lot of experience, so she was kind in offering her help. I’d heard good things about the way [Oiselle] treats their athletes. It was a warm, welcoming feeling; it’s definitely a tight-knit family.”
With Oiselle now in place as her sponsor and a recent victory (and new PR) scored at the Doha Half Marathon, Kieffer is well primed to tackle the competitive half and full marathon distances she has planned for this spring. Check back in with Women’s Running as we follow Kieffer’s career closely over the next few months, and don’t forget to read our March 2018 issue (on newsstands February 6), in which Kieffer is featured in our new “Meet the Elite” column.