Athlete Spotlight: Sara Hall

2018 Athlete in Excellence Award Winner

Sara Hall runs between 100-130 miles a week. She runs twice a day, every day, except for one day set aside for a longer solitary run. She supplements this regimen with 2-3 strength training sessions a week and lots of stretching, massaging, mobilization exercises, and other rehab activities that help prevent injuries and keep her going strong. She resides in Flagstaff, AZ, where she can run right out her front door and go for 50 miles along dirt roads. She is coached by her husband, who happens to be the fastest half and full marathon runner in U.S. history.

Sara displays the same determination and long-term planning in her commitment to public service as she does in her athletic pursuits.

Sara’s Story

Sara started running when she was 13 years old, after discovering her natural speed through youth sports. She got an early start training for cross country, taking it up the summer before 7th grade. Soon, she would best her city’s previous cross-country champion in a sprint finish. 

The thrill of competition, combined with her love of exploration, set her on her career path, first as a track star and then as a marathon runner. She started training for her first marathon in the fall of 2014 and is now coming up on her 14th year as a professional athlete. That’s far longer than she ever expected. 

During this time, Sara also discovered her other passion: helping orphaned children find loving and supportive homes.

Hall Steps Foundation

Sara co-founded the Hall Steps Foundation in 2009 and currently serves as its Executive Director. The Foundation engages the American running community in order to raise funds for sustainable orphan care and orphan prevention in Ethiopia, as well as various related projects throughout East Africa, such as poverty alleviation, health clinics, clean water, and micro-lending.

After spending time in Ethiopia, Sara adopted 4 young girls from there. She continues to work with Hall Steps Foundation to provide aid to the 4-5 million orphans in the area. Over the last several years, they have made over $60,000 in grants to organizations providing food, shelter, and education to orphans, as well as $100,000 in microlending for women with the goal of family empowerment and orphan prevention.

Hall of Steps Foundation also funded an education program in Southern Ethiopia, as well as an after-school program for orphaned children in Addis Ababa. Their dream is to open a world-class school that would be free to poor children. They have already begun looking at sustainable models and consulting with experts in this field.

Sara plans to focus an even greater portion of her effort overseeing projects funded by The Hall Steps Foundation as her competing days wind down in the years to come. 

Sara’s Goals for the Future

Meanwhile, Sara is currently training for the 2020 Olympic Trials, which will be held next February, in the hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.  She has set the goal of breaking her personal record in the half marathon by going under 69 minutes for the first time at the upcoming ASICS Gold Coast Half Marathon

She continues to feel out her potential in longer running events with great success. She has run faster in the half and full marathons she’s competed in every year since 2014—which also happens to coincide with her time as a mom.

She’s also been able to share her love of running with two of her daughters, who have displayed their own propensity for speed. Her oldest daughter is already an Arizona state champion in cross country, while her 15-year-old—who is just starting out — can keep up with her mom and older sister (at least on easy days).

“There are so many life skills I hope to impart to my kids that can be modeled through perseverance, hard work, taking risks, doing hard things, not fearing failure, picking yourself up after defeat,” says Sara. “I get to invite them into my career and dialogue with them about it.”

Athletic Achievements

  • 2017 US National Marathon champion
  • 2017 US National 10-mile champion
  • 2018 US National half marathon runner up
  • Became 9th fastest half marathoner and 8th fastest marathoner in US history in 2018
  • 5-time National Champion
  • Multiple all-American at Stanford
  • Inducted into her high school’s “Jim Thorpe Sports Hall of Fame”
  • 2018 US 10 mile champion
  • 2017 and 2019 US 10k champion