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Palmiero-Winters Sets Bar for Ultra-Marathon Runners

Hicksville’s Amy Palmiero-Winters has created some pretty sizeable shoes to fill – and has also paved plenty of footprints along the way.

A below-the-knee amputee, world-class ultra-marathon runner, coach and single mother of two, Palmiero-Winters, 37, recently became the first amputee to finish the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run from Squaw Valley to Auburn, Calif.

Spanning two sunrises, patches of snow and rocky descents, Palmiero-Winters finished the gruesome trail in 27 hours and 42 minutes – earning her the bronze belt buckle for completing the race in less than 30 hours. She raced alongside 328 athletes, all of whom were able-bodied.

Palmiero-Winters lost her left leg below the knee in a 1994 motorcycle accident, and since then, she’s set world records for amputee women at 50 kilometers, 50 miles, 100 kilometers, 100 miles and 24-hour races as an ultra-marathoner.

On July 12, she’ll compete in the “world’s toughest footrace” at the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile trek from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, Calif.

Voted as America’s top amateur athlete in the spring, Palmiero-Winters was honored with the 80th annual James E. Sullivan Award. She has also been nominated for a 2010 ESPY Award, which ESPN presents to athletes after fans and sportswriters cast their votes nationally on the Internet. To support Amy, visit and vote under the Best Female Athlete with a Disability category (voting ends July 10).

In May, Palmiero-Winters was the first athlete in history with a disability to compete on an able-bodied team as she participated in the World Championship 24-hour run in Brieve, France as a member of Team USA.

Palmiero-Winters cited one of her inspirations as Pat Griskus, an amputee who also lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident. Griskus became the first amputee to complete the Ironman, but was struck and killed by a truck in Hawaii while training. On July 7, Palmiero-Winters gave her bronze belt buckle from Western States to the family of her inspiration at the Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon in Connecticut.

A volunteer coach and motivator for children with disabilities, Palmiero-Winters is also the full-time director of Team A Step Ahead, a nationwide sports team comprising adults and children with limb loss sponsored by A Step Ahead Prosthetics and Orthotics.