Berry takes top spot at Cal International Marathon

Mercer Island resident clinches a spot at the USA Olympic trials.

Mercer Island resident Desiree Berry charged toward the finish line with everything she had at the Cal International Marathon this past December in Sacramento, California.

Berry, who saw her children Beau, 5, and Bear, 3, near the finish line, crossed with a spectacular time of 2:39.17 on Dec. 2 on the 26.2-mile course. The blistering time clinched a berth at the United States Olympic trials as well as a Masters National Championship title.

“They just give me a ton of motivation. Just knowing they were going to be at the finish line in the CIM, it got me going those last couple of miles,” Berry explained.

Berry’s strategy to the race was to start off fast in order to separate herself from the pack.

The plan worked to perfection.

“I was a little surprised to run that fast. My goal was to run under a 2:45 (Olympic trials qualifying time is 2:45). I tried to get out fast at the beginning because there was so many feet and so many people. I didn’t want to trip and fall,” Berry said. “I got out to a faster pace for the first couple of miles. It felt so good that I kind of hung with that pace. Once I got halfway through, I kind of did the math and was like even if it goes downhill from here, I will still get under my goal time. I could hear my husband (Matt) and my kids yelling for me at the halfway point. They were there at the finish too.”

Berry, who moved to Mercer Island from Texas last year, created the Mercer Island women’s running group called the Bluebirds in April of 2018. Berry said the support of her fellow runners in the group is inspiring.

“We meet Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. With that group we run anywhere from 8-10 miles (per day) and on the weekends if I’m preparing for a marathon, I will run 18 miles to 24 miles. My longest run was 24 miles,” Barry said. “Leading up to CIM, I was running 50 to 60 miles per week. That is actually pretty low for a marathon runner but is a lot for the average athlete. I did that for probably 10 weeks with two hard workout days as well. Running in that group (Mercer Island Bluebirds) is so much fun. Everyone is so supportive. The miles just fly by.”

Running is a way of life For Berry. During her collegiate days, she ran track at the University of Alabama.

“I also used to be a professional triathlete for 10 years and was doing ironman and half-ironman events,” she said.

The Olympic trials later this year won’t be her first rodeo as a marathoner.

“I did the (Olympic) trials back in 2007 for the 2008 Olympics. It will be good to be back. I will be 43 and just want to go and represent the Master’s women (division) the best I can and try to run as fast as possible. I think it’s going to be really fun and totally different than the last time I went as a youngster (Berry was 31 when she competed last time in 2007),” Berry said. “It will just be a lot of fun. My kids will be out there to watch me.”