When Amy Palmiero-Winters (USA) collided with a vehicle while out on her motorcycle years ago, she never thought it would one day lead her to becoming a Guinness World Records title holder.
One unfortunate twist of fate in 1994 resulted in an above-the-knee amputation of her left leg, leaving the passionate runner learning how to walk again, despite qualifying for the Boston Marathon just months prior.
In the hospital as doctors worked to save as much as they could of her leg, Amy was trying to comprehend how she would ever get back to one of her favorite past times.
"When you have something happen to you, like it happened to me, I was just out for a ride on my motorcycle and a car happened to pull out in front of me and when it did it crushed my left foot. And as a result, I ended up losing my leg below the knee."
Throughout her life, running had been the activity she used to escape life's problems; to push on from any hardships or emotional burdens she carried, but now it became the one thing she struggled to do.
Now, after 25 surgeries, heavy bouts of physical therapy, rehabilitation, emotional determination and a will to carry on – Amy not only runs marathons, she breaks records with them.
After completing the fastest 100 miles on a treadmill (female) – LA2 in a time of 21 hours 43 minutes and 29 seconds, the inspirational mom and athlete has now earned her first Guinness World Records title, as part of our Impairment Records Initiative.
This initiative sees the introduction of an initial twenty-three classification categories for physical, intellectual and visual impairments, and contains classifications created with the support of external experts, that will be applicable across all sports, strength and "journey" records.
Amy's record attempt took place at Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in Manhattan, New York, USA where a team of friends and physical therapists gathered to support her during the challenging 24-hour period.
"When I was a child, you only had so many options. You could be a firefighter, you could be a police officer, you could go into the military, you could be an Olympian, or you could be a Guinness World Records title holder. And for me, the day that I was hit by the car – all of that was taken away. But it was the strongest part of my body that a person has, my mind, that has led me to where I am, attempting to set an official Guinness World Records title."
With the pressure to beat a 22-hour minimum, Amy had minimal time to take breaks in between the 100 miles she needed to achieve.
Amy had multiple prosthetics available on hand to switch out for comfort, and also brought several bottles of health drinks, carbohydrates and energy bars to stay fueled for the journey.
Beginning at 7:20 AM on a Saturday morning, Amy started her race against the clock like she would any other morning run. She knew that the key was to be consistent with her pace and timing, and aimed to clock a certain distance hourly to ensure she stayed on track.
As to be expected when running the distance of multiple standard marathons in one day, Amy experienced hardship during her attempt.
Faced with exhaustion, dehydration and muscle cramps, there were multiple points during her experience where she needed to stretch and reset her mindset to have the ambition to keep going.
At one point in New York City while many were sleeping, Amy was on hour 19 of running consecutively.
Although she expressed doubts and sometimes felt like giving up, her team gave her the emotional support and push needed to successfully cross the finish line at the 21 hour, 43 minute mark.
"Is it easy? No it’s not easy. Do I make it look easy? Yes I do. Because if I didn’t make it look easy, then other people wouldn’t want to continue as well. So is running the same as what it used to be? No. But despite the pain, despite the struggles, I would say it’s even better. Before I was just running because it made me feel good, now I get to run because it makes me feel good and it helps other people."
Adjudicator Claire Stephens was on-site to officially confirm the new record, and present Amy with a certificate for her admirable efforts.
Up until her most recent record, the seasoned athlete has participated in several races over the years, including marathons and ultramarathons.
She has competed in both the New York City Marathon and Chicago Marathon, and even managed to place second in her division for the Silver Strand Marathon, despite being five months pregnant at the time and using a prosthetic only meant for walking.
She also spearheads the One Step Ahead Foundation, an organization she created to help children with physical disabilities.
Amy’s running career has showcased the limitless possibilities for those who are physically disabled and she hopes to continue inspiring others to fight beyond the boundaries of their mind and achieve their ambitions.
"100 miles on the treadmill is life. It’s just life. You are going to have highs, you are going to have lows, you’re going to want to run as fast as you can, you’re going to want to stop. That’s what life is. How you feel in the moment, it will pass. But the feeling of quitting and not being your best at that moment will never go away."