Wilmington marathon runner has sights and spirits set on Olympic trials

More than 4,000 athletes will take part in the 13th annual Novant Health Wilmington Marathon presented by Wicked Weed Brewing on Saturday, Feb. 25.
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 6:05 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Port City’s own Ann Marie Pierce hopes to take her skills to the next level at Saturday’s Wilmington Marathon.

If Pierce can finish the race in two hours and 37 minutes or faster, she will qualify for the Olympic trials in Orlando. She fell just 43 seconds short of that time at the Houston Marathon in January.

While Pierce knows her chances of eventually landing on the Olympic team are slim, she has her eyes and legs focused on the future.

“The chances of me actually going to the Olympics are almost- I don’t want to say impossible- but impossible. It is a really cool experience, though, because there’s not a lot of women who even make that mark,” Pierce said.

Pierce moved to Wilmington in 2016 and started her career in education. That path led to new opportuntieis for both Pierce and her students.

“I was able to start a team here when I moved here. I started teaching at Williston Middle School and there was no program for children to run. So I started Trailblazers running team, and it’s still going now, about six years strong,” said Pierce. “It just keeps me energized for running, seeing all these young souls getting out there and doing hard stuff.”

Now, with two young kids of her own, Pierce is committed to finding purpose in every race.

“Last year’s marathon, I ran for my dad who had passed away from pancreatic cancer,” she said. “And then I just felt that there’s just a special meaning in every race and this race being the hometown with everybody out here.”

A purpose Pierce hopes will inspire others on the course or even on the sidelines.

“This is for all of the moms and the dreamers and those that, you know, just need that encouragement to go after what they truly believe they can do. If you believe in yourself and you have that support, a lot of great things can happen from that,” said Pierce.

The Novant Health Wilmington Marathon begins Saturday at 7 a.m. in Wrightsville Beach. Click here to view the expected traffic impacts of the race.