Twelve years ago, Malverne native Kylie Pearse reluctantly joined the Kellenberg Memorial High School track team as a long-distance runner, after being cut from the soccer team. Pearse’s coach, Martin Brown, who lived across the street from her at the time, encouraged her to try out for track, and she ended up making the varsity team.
Now 26, Pearse finished second in the women’s field in the 23rd annual New Jersey Marathon on April 28, and her time — 2 hours, 43 minutes, 2 seconds — qualified her for the Olympic trials in Atlanta next February.
“It pretty much means everything to me in my running career,” Pearse said. “I’ve kind of re-evaluated everything now, because I did it a lot earlier than I thought. Even Mr. Brown thought I would do it in 2024, so I guess four years earlier is pretty cool.”
Brown, who coached Pearse from 2007 to 2011, said that he appreciated her work ethic and the example she set for others. “She was a workhorse,” he said. “She was kind, caring and she was big on cultivating a team family atmosphere, and our team embraced that.”
Pearse, who now lives in Philadelphia, trains regularly with Meghan Bishop, the only woman who beat her in the New Jersey Marathon. Pearse said it was the first time they had tried to qualify for the Olympic trials. She added that having the support of her family and friends cheering her on gave much-needed motivation.
“I had something to look forward to about every four miles,” Pearse said. “Even people in the race told me that I’m the most popular person here today. It’s kind of hard to run poorly when you have that kind of support.”
Pearse started training for the marathon months ago. For a month and a half, she logged 80 miles a week. She also ran the United Airlines Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in Washington in March to prepare for the New Jersey race.
Her boyfriend, Christian Lupica, said that Pearse — who is an underwrite for medical malpractice insurance — always finds time for running. “I’ve seen the behind-the-scenes work that she’s put in to prepare for that race,” he said. “Whether it’s raining, hailing or snowing, she’s out there running. It’s a goal that she’s been talking about for a long time, so it was an awesome experience to see her cross that finish line.”
Pearse ran at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pa., from 2011 to 2015. She said that while she performed well, she fell short of her own expectations.
“I put a lot of work in, but I didn’t really get back what I wanted,” she said. “Qualifying for the Olympics was a stretch, but that was pretty much the biggest goal I could achieve.”
She said she would likely run a half-marathon in October to prepare for the Olympic trials next year. She acknowledged that making the Olympic team would be difficult, and that her main goal is to finish in the top 100 at the trials.
“Being surrounded [by] the fastest women in the United States is going to be pretty cool,” Pearse said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had that experience yet, so I’m just going to take it all in.”