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McKirdy Trained

From left to right, Jack Polerecky, Heather McKirdy, James McKirdy and Michael Crouch stand in Buffalo Park. James McKirdy owns a business that offers coaching to a wide range of running athletes who can work with their coaches through an app.

John Raneri was starting to become a fixture of Lake Mary Road.

The runner was beginning to think about putting his energy into shorter distances after struggling to find his formula for a successful marathon. Yet, Raneri and James McKirdy believed the longer distances were still his bread and butter, so they went back to the drawing board and had him run plenty of miles on Lake Mary.

Raneri came away from the New York City Marathon on Sunday with a 2:14:13 that was good for 15th place overall and landed him as the fifth American male to cross the finish line. He recorded a PR and had his best 26.2-mile outing since 2015.

"So we prepped for NYC after tweaking and reworking ideas about training," James McKirdy said.

That's the calling card for McKirdy Trained, a collection of coaches led by founder Jame McKirdy that's meant to develop runners of all types and ages.

Get the best out of athletes -- and even coaches on staff like Raneri.

"And to do so on one of the world's toughest courses is a major accomplishment," McKirdy said of his coach's accomplishment in New York. "But more importantly it marks a new confidence that John truly belongs. He ran the race beautifully, being in 30th at the 10K and finishing in 15th when he crossed the line."

The numbers are climbing for the coaches and the business, and the times are being shaved down all the while. McKirdy said there could be potentially 25-30 of McKirdy Trained athletes heading to Atlanta in late February for the Olympic Marathon Trials. Moreover, McKirdy Trained served more than 60 athletes for the NYC Marathon.

This weekend McKirdy Trained will have nearly 100 athletes it has served competing at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and Monumental Half Marathon. Meanwhile, in December, they expect to have more than 60 runners at the California International Marathon.

"From professional to novice, I feel there's an excitement about running right now that's so thick you can cut it with a knife," McKirdy said.

For McKirdy, he's more impressed with the ripple effect his athletes cause and number of inspired runners seeking McKirdy Trained.

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"But what I'm really excited about is how our athletes are inspiring others. The thought of, 'If they can do it -- as a mom of three, four or five -- then I can, too!' 'If he can work 60 hours a week and still run lifetime bests at 56, I can too,'" McKirdy said.

Kate Landau, a 43-year-old working with McKirdy Trained coaches, had a stellar performance in NYC as well, clocking a 2:33:04 on a 5:51 pace for 15th place on the women's side. She wasn't far off her PR of 2:31:56 set in Boston this year.

Boston, on the other hand, was part of Raneri's marathon woes. He did not finish the April race, a setback from his improving buildup from 2018's Houston Marathon.

"Every level of athlete has a story to share, and we want to help develop that relationship so that each person feels they can become better than they've ever been," McKirdy said.

Raneri's fellow McKirdy Trained coach Jack Polerecky now faces his own challenge, as he is set to take on his first marathon this weekend. And another athlete developing with McKirdy Trained, Brackin Stewart, debuts in California while also seeking an Olympic Trial spot.

The team's excitement is growing as its Flagstaff base continues to add athletes. Matt Welch recently moved to Flagstaff to train, coming off a 2:17:45 marathon debut and 64:28 half-marathon debut.

He'll join Polerecky, Stewart and Raneri in training out of Flagstaff.

"Matt specifically is one of the most positive and upbeat people I've ever met. While he's not a coach, his influence and personality are infectious," McKirdy said. "He's the type of guy you want to spend time with because it's clear he sees the best in you. He has big goals -- goals that align with what we aim to accomplish over the years."

And while the Olympic Trials have given McKirdy Trained and running in general a boost of excitement over the last couple years, McKirdy wants to make sure the inspiration his athletes exude outruns the Trials.

"The stories and results will always remain to inspire long after February 29, 2020," he said.

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Mike Hartman can be reached at 556-2255 or at mhartman@azdailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @AZDS_Hartman.

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