High Country Running: Welcome to Flagstaff!

2012-05-13T05:00:00Z High Country Running: Welcome to Flagstaff!SARA HALL Arizona Daily Sun
May 13, 2012 5:00 am  • 

In the fall of 2010, Ryan and I had a rush of excitement at the adventure before us -- we could go anywhere in the world to train. High altitude has always been an important part of Ryan's training. However, we were tired of battling the grueling winters in Mammoth Lakes, CA with its 60 feet of snow and the resulting hassles. Having been to Flagstaff for long visits with our good friend and local runner Alicia Shay, we knew that it had a lot to offer as a training location, and the milder winters were appealing. So we moved in November of 2010 for a test of winter training.

It didn't take long for us to fall in love with Flagstaff. The flat, manicured Urban Trail System right outside our door was a refreshing break from the hilly dirt roads we had been training on, and the winter weather was nothing compared to Mammoth. The more we spent time in the town, we realized what a great community exists here. Soon, we felt at home and decided to do our altitude training here for the rest of our careers. Now, we want to get to know the Flagstaff endurance community better, starting with an event we're hosting: Going For Gold: An Evening With Ryan and Sara Hall to benefit the Hall Steps Foundation and Girls on the Run of Northern Arizona.

We started the Hall Steps Foundation in 2009, following a trip to Zambia not long after Ryan competed in the 2008 Olympic marathon in Beijing. Our objective was to see water projects we had helped rally runners to support through World Vision at the Chicago Marathon. Seeing the tangible impact runners could make on the lives of people in extreme poverty inspired us to do more-and to start an organization to engage the running community in taking "Steps" toward eliminating poverty worldwide. Since then, we have focused on funding initiatives that bring better health to underserved communities, domestically and abroad. Our work has contributed to building a hospital in the Rift Valley of Kenya, food security in Northern Kenya, and clean water projects in Kenya.

Domestically, we have focused on running-mentoring programs for at-risk individuals, using the power of running to change not only health, but the courses of people's lives. We started a running mentoring program in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago and supported a program in each of the five boroughs in New York City, as well as an organization for homeless individuals in Boston to work toward self-sufficiency.

Thanks to a team of committed locals, we will be hosting an event from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 20 at the Green Room to raise money for our international projects and Girls on the Run of Northern Arizona. Appetizers and drinks will be served, we'll talk more about the Hall Steps Foundation and the proceeds of a raffle and silent auction will benefit the foundation's initiatives.

We thank the Flagstaff community for welcoming us here and we look forward to meeting everybody there!

Sara Hall is a professional middle distance runner who is currently training for the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Team Trials. Her husband, Ryan, is a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, competing in the marathon. To learn more about the event and ticket information, check out http://www.facebook.com/HallStepsFoundationFlagstaffFundraiser.

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