A dream came true recently for former North Iowa runner star Alana Scarano.
On Nov. 9, the former Clear Lake High School standout qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trials with a time of 2:44.23 at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.
The Olympic Trials will be held Feb. 29 in Atlanta.
“When you race 26.2 miles, anything can happen,” Scarano said. “This was my second marathon, and I thought after the first one that I was capable of running an Olympic Trials qualifying time.”
Once she approached the finish line, Scarano says that the moment was overpowering.
"I was crying when I was within 50 meters of the line,” Scarano said. “At that point, I could officially say that I was going to do it.”
Scarano, formerly Alana Enabnit, graduated from Clear Lake High School in 2011 and went on to run at Wartburg College, where she was a five-time All-American and won two NCAA titles.
She now lives in Huntsville, Alabama, where she works as a running coach at a training company called RunningLane. Living in a bigger city like Huntsville has made Scarano appreciate the benefits of growing up in a small-town, where the school gives a lot of support to its athletics programs.
“I think it was really cool to be a part of a high school and a community that really supported its athletes,” Scarano said. “It’s something that moving to a larger town now, I see that kids don’t necessarily get to experience the community hopping in on what they do. It was really cool growing up in a community where people cared.”
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In addition to the community support, Scarano said that she misses the cool climate of North Iowa. While Alabama gives plenty of chances for Scarano to train on hills, the humid climate is a challenge.
“Alabama is very humid, and that makes preparing for long events very challenging,” Scarano said. “Clear Lake is a much more easy place to train. It’s a great place to train. You’ve got the lake, you’ve got gravel roads. Huntsville, Alabama is a little hillier. It’s humid most of the year. We still had 100 degree temps in October.
“As crazy as it sounds, I think Clear Lake, Iowa, in December is better than Huntsville in the summer, anytime.”
While Scarano now has several months to get ready for the race, she doesn’t feel nervous about the magnitude of the event. It has been a dream of hers for quite awhile to qualify for the Olympic Trials, but she makes sure that running is never something that becomes a burden.
“Running is never the center of everything I do in life,” Scarano said. “It’s a big part of what I get to do, but it’s something that I enjoy, so it's not anything that is hovering over my head. It’s a motivating factor every day to try to excel at all areas, so that my running can be smooth.”
After she qualified, Scarano and several other qualifying runners traveled to Atlanta to tour the Olympic Trials course. For Scarano, getting to run the course helped her realize the magnitude of her accomplishment.
"The Atlanta track club let us do a preview run on it," Scarano said. "Getting to run on the course, and be with a bunch of other people that have qualified and get to see what we get to experience in February has allowed things to settle in a little bit."
In addition to her own running successes, Scarano helps other runners reach their own goals as part of her job at RunningLane. She works with people of all ages, from youth to senior runners, along with people who are training for such high level events like the Boston Marathon. As an elite runner herself, Scarano enjoys helping others achieve their goals.
"It’s really cool because in the position that I am, I get to see and experience people at all different levels," Scarano said. "It’s really fun to work with them. It’s fun because my job enables me to engage with the running community, and get to really soak that in."