Meet Amy Palmiero Winters, The Runner And Amputee Taking On 100 Milers

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Amy Palmiero Winters is a mother, coach, professional athlete, and the Founder and Director at A Step Ahead Prosthetics, which has offices in Hicksville, New York, and Burlington, Massachusetts.

She currently holds 13 world records in various running and endurance events, including the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States and the ESPN ESPY Award as the top female athlete with a disability in the world.

Amy Winters will be running the 2023 Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB® this Friday, April 28, 2023, in Auburn, California.

This race is a dual qualifier for the iconic UTMB® World Series Finals in Chamonix, France, and the Western States 100. 

To learn more about her goals for the ultramarathon on Friday, and her life as a busy professional endurance athlete, we spoke one-on-one with Amy Winters and were nothing but completely inspired by her story.

How Did You Get Into Running?

Winters has actually been running most of her entire life, spanning all the way back to childhood.

She has found that running has had a huge impact on not just her physical strength, but also her mental health and mindset.

“Running was something that helped me build my self-worth,” says Winters. “It allowed me to find my own inner confidence, but more importantly, it simply made me feel good about myself and presented me with the challenge of allowing me to grow stronger as a child.”

Unfortunately, Winters suffered a motorcycle accident in 1994 that ultimately led to a transtibial amputation (an amputation below the knee) in 1997.

Meet Amy Palmiero Winters, The Runner And Amputee Taking On 100 Milers 1

Image by Madilynn Winters Printed With Permission by Amy Palmiero Winters 

Winters said that she initially thought this accident caused her to lose the ability to ever run again.

“I never thought, well I was told, I would never walk, let alone run again,” says Winters. “[But] over and over, I learned to run again, and I started over.”

What Are Your Goals for the 2023 UTMP Canyons Endurance Runs?

Winters says the Canyons Endurance Runs feels like a festival and a celebration of the sport of running in its truest sense.

“It gives all ability levels the chance to love running for what it is and for the simplicity of what it used to be—and that is to just run and get away from stress and technology and find oneself while bringing us all together in a safe and exciting atmosphere,” shares Winters.

She specifically chose the 2023 UTMB Canyons Endurance Run as one of her target races because she says that this event gives all runners the opportunity to run one of the most beautiful races in the world, while also allowing for a pathway to access the UTMB World Series event and the Western States 100.

Winters says she has four primary goals for the 2023 Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB®, which is taking place this upcoming Friday, April 28, 2023.

Goal 1

“Running the Canyons 100-mile will help me gain the running stones that have eluded me to run in the 2023 September UTMB, which is a beautiful race that was created by a team of masterminds and husband-and-wife duo, Michele and Catherine Poletti,” shares Winters. “I am hoping to have the opportunity to thank them in person this weekend for their courage.”

Goal 2

‘“My love for ultra-running was fostered out on the Western States trails when I ran and finished The Western States 100-mile run. I ran that race for someone who lost his life. When I crossed the finish line, I flew home and the next weekend presented his wife and daughter with the coveted WS buckle that eluded him and that he promised he would go back and obtain one,” explains Winters. 

She adds that an amazing athlete from the Western States race who heard Winters’ story sent Winters her buckle, which was a Western States Sub-24-Hour buckle. 

Meet Amy Palmiero Winters, The Runner And Amputee Taking On 100 Milers 2

Image from Peak Death Race Image Printed With Permission by Amy Palmiero Winters 

“I want to get my feet back out there in hopes of getting back to the Western States 100 starting line to do my best to return her buckle and capture one of my own,” says Winter excitedly. “The Canyons Endurance run allows all of us to access another entry to this race, like the awe-inspiring UTMB World Series 100-mile in September.”

Goal 3

Winters also loves the atmosphere at trail races like the UTMB Canyon 100 ultramarathon, and hopes to soak that in during the race on Saturday. 

She notes, “I am looking forward to the comradery the UTMB Canyon 100 will bring and to get out there on those trails and redefine what I can do.”

Goal 4

Winters’ last goal for the UTMB Canyon 100 is the one that resonates most deeply with her, and stems from the fact that her son is in the US Navy and her daughter is going into the US Army in August. 

Meet Amy Palmiero Winters, The Runner And Amputee Taking On 100 Milers 3

Image by Madilynn Winters Printed With Permission by Amy Palmiero Winters 

“Most important, my ability to do this, to dream of doing this, comes from tragedy and from the courage of those who keep us safe and free,” she explains. “All of those who keep us safe and free allow me to be out there. I want to get on those trails and make them proud.”

As for her race plan, Winters says it is as simple as it gets—to give it her absolute best and be present and grateful.

“I want to smile and thank all of those out there volunteering on the course and giving the most precious gift—time,” she says. “They are giving their time to help us succeed. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”

This is truly a key takeaway for anyone running a race.  

What Are You Most Looking Forward To for this Ultramarathon Race?

Winters says one of the things that she is looking forward to most about the 2023 UTMB Canyons Endurance Run is getting to run the race with her daughter.

“It will be her 18th birthday and she is graduating and leaving to be a CBRN Army specialist. My son is in the Navy on the USS George Washington aircraft carrier,” shares Winters with pride. “I always want to be my children’s biggest role model.”

Winters adds that she also wants to make a difference and be a role model for younger girls and women who have lost a limb or have other physical or mental differences or disabilities.

“I have this special little girl who looks up to me. She made her little Barbie have a prosthetic leg. She picked out the toenail polish for my two toenails, so it can help me go faster,” explains Winters. “She has differences that make things hard for her and she doesn’t care that I’m different and sees me as her hero.”

Winters even has a foundation that helps children with differences participate in sports because Winters knows firsthand the impact that sports can have on building confidence in children.

What Is Your Training Like?

Winters says that her running mileage has to be minimal due to her amputation and running on a prosthesis. All of the pounding of running affects not only her residual limb above the amputation but adds to the stress and workload on her healthy leg.

“I coach a great group of girls at 5 AM and then head off to work. I work 50-65 hours a week,” explains Winters. “Then, I go to CrossFit to help build my strength, core stability, and endurance. I believe in cross-training.

Meet Amy Palmiero Winters, The Runner And Amputee Taking On 100 Milers 4

Image by B.A.W Media Printed With Permission by Amy Palmiero Winters 

As for fueling for her runs, Winters is a big fan of VESPA endurance fuel. 

“It allows me to utilize my fat metabolism for fuel and avoid stomach issues,” she shares. “Peter Defty and his team have worked hard to perfect this and it will allow me to go through days of racing and cross the finish line and go right back to being a mother, wife, coach, and director!”

As for future goals, Winters has her sights set on the UTMB 100 World Series Finals.

We have nothing but confidence in her nailing that goal. 

You can keep up with Amy Palmiero Winters in her pursuit to chase her goals and take down more records on her Instagram page here.

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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