Loretta Kilmer started running at age 12 when her dad, Bob, encouraged her to run cross country.
“My dad encouraged all nine of us kids (Loretta, Maria, Celeste, Elizabeth, Ken, Dan, Joe, Michael and Andrew and honorary member of the family Margie Mannex) to participate in sports and get involved,” she said. “I loved it and never have not stopped running since. My mom (Linda) and dad have supported us kids in all of our endeavors. They were always there.”
And run she did. Loretta ran track and cross country at Ramona High School for Dave Wilson and Ola Knutsson. Loretta, a well-rounded student, did well in all of the A’s: Academics, Activities, Athletics and Arts. When she wasn’t running, she was marching in the band.
Loretta hit the books as hard as she hit the track and roads and was accepted at Columbia University in New York City. At Columbia, she led the Lions to their first top 15 national championship finish. In her tenure at Columbia, the Lions were a team qualifier in Division I Cross Country Championships from 2001 to 2004. They moved from 22nd place in 2001 to 11th place in 2002 and 13th in 2003 and 2004.
Loretta was the team MVP in cross country and track in 2002 and 2003. She qualified for the National Track and Field Championships in the 10K in 2003. She was the team captain in track and cross country in 2003 and 2004. The Lions were the Ivy League Champions in track and cross country three straight years while Loretta was a Lion. She earned All Ivy League honors in both sports.
Columbia is an Ivy League school and does not grant athletic scholarships as do the rest of the Division I schools.
“What happened during my years at Columbia defines the type of success that happens when a team is put together with an amazing amount of potential and determination,” said Loretta.
After graduating from Columbia with a degree in art history, Loretta kept running. She focused on track and road racing and built up her training regimen to compete in marathons. In her first marathon, the San Diego Marathon, she was the fourth American woman finisher and took ninth place overall. She ran with her high school coach, Ola Knutsson.
She moved her training base from New York City to Mammoth Lakes to train in a high altitude to get ready for the most famous of all marathons, the Boston Marathon.
Her training paid off. She ran a 2:40:07 at Boston and was the fifth best American female finisher and the 19th best female overall. She again ran with Knutsson. How many high schools had a coach and grad run in and finish the Boston Marathon in less than three hours?
Loretta’s running goal is to become the national champion on the USA Running Circuit. The circuit has 12 races that range from 10K to marathons. The best scores in all of the races are accumulated and the winner is the national champion.