WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – A woman from Wilmington will be heading to Houston this weekend to compete for a shot at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Christa Immarino, 37, pulls 12-hour shifts in the hospital as an anesthesia nurse. After work you can usually find her at the track training in hopes of making it to London in July.
Immarino runs 80 miles a week, but takes one day off from running to rest her body. As you can imagine, chiropractors and physical therapists are planned as part of the week to prevent injury.
This summer Immarino completed the journey only a few others would even dare to dream. She is the first person from Wilmington who has qualified for a shot at the Olympics. She will race for a spot this weekend at the US marathon trials in Houston.
"My original goal was to make it to the trails, which I did and it really doesn't matter how I did there," said Immarino. "If I get 20th or 100th it's not going to change anything."
Immarino took seven years off from running after she graduated from college and didn't start training again until she was in her early 30s. Now, at 37 she is faster than she's ever been before.
The 2010 Wrightsville Beach marathon was the first race Immarino participated in after her running hiatus. She won, which gave her the ability to qualify for elites in New York.
She then hit a qualifying mark at the Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota in the summer of 2011 which gave her "A" Olympic qualifying trials.
Less than 200 runners are invited to compete to represent the United States. As it stands now, Immarino is ranked 40th. She knows that it's a long shot to make the Olympic team as only the top three qualify, but she will give it her all this weekend.
"I ran in college and I never thought I'd make it to the Olympic trials in an anything, so it's kind of rejuvenated my love for the sport and my competition," explained Immarino. "I was burned out after college, and I thought there is nowhere else to go with running and here I am today. So it's shown me no matter how old or young you are you can still do it."
Her positive attitude has spread to those around her at work and around town. She has motivated a lot of people to get involved in the running sport.
It is apparent Immarino has a lot of support from her friends. Her Facebook wall is plastered with words of encouragement for the upcoming race.
Her sister-in-law Susan Cage Immarino wrote: Want to wish my sister in law, Christa Immarino, the best of luck in her race this weekend. She is, amazingly, at the Olympic tryouts in Houston, Texas for the marathon! She is among the top 40 fastest women marathon runners in the US! Unbelievable! We are all so proud of her and are so excited for her to be part of this awesome experience!
She even has supporters in Wisconsin. Laura Immarino Zgrabik wrote: Good luck this weekend Christa. I know you will have a great run. It's too bad we couldn't be there to cheer you on. We will be tracking you online. Enjoy this amazing experience. We love you a bunch!!!!
You can watch Immarino race this weekend on WECT from 3:00-5:00 Saturday afternoon. If you'd rather "run" with a group there will be a Christa watching party at the Carolina Ale House on College Road in Wilmington to watch the race together.