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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 espn.go.com/espys 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.