T The story was so good that it was impossible to imagine. A 26-year-old woman with no sponsors or agents who only had a marathon in her life came in second on Monday at the Boston Marathon, one of the world's most prestigious road races. As soon as she crossed the finish line, the question began to growl on Boylston Street.
Who is Sarah Sellers?
The amateur, who trains independently before or after shifts in a full-time care work, has burst total anonymity, which becomes a sensation in the running world. But across the country, Paul Pilkington, the women's coach at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, laughs into his cell phone.
"If all those people only knew their maiden name at the race, they might have been able to see" She says she was pretty good at school, "he says.
Sarah Callister was a very fast runner in Weber State and how she came to Boston from there is even a better story than her unlikely conclusion to the marathon on Monday, it's a story of agony and perseverance and the will to do something great, even if nothing seems right.
"She's just a tough lady," says Pilkington.
Pilkington found her team years ago for the Ogden High School and saw enough potential to recruit her to Weber State, where she quickly became one of the fastest runners in the country In the winter of 2013, in the middle of her junior year, she ran well enough to believe that she could be an All-American at the 10,000m when she felt pain in her left foot.
As her father , on An orthopedic surgeon warned that she might develop a stress fracture, he suggested to her. Only she could not rest: it was indoor track season and her times were too good to stop. She raced away in a 5000m race at the University of Washington and ran so well that Pilkington thought she could set a school record. Then, late in the race, the gnawing pain broke into an inferno of pain singeing through her foot. It slowed and fell from first to second, third, fourth, fifth and finally sixth.
"I knew I had to cope," Sellers said over the phone this week from her home in Tucson, Arizona.
But she also realized that something was wrong.
She had broken the navicular, a small but distinct bone on her left foot. She understood enough about the foot structure to know that the injury was serious and that the prognosis was not good. The bone would heal, but she probably could not run in competition or at a distance.
"I was heartbroken," she says. "Really, since high school, I would run every day, now people said," Maybe you should pick up art. "I love art, but I'm not a person who can sit and read or sit and do art, I have to I have to walk. "
Hoping to have the bone healed, Sellers gave up. She stopped training the Weber State Team and missed her senior season. After college, she went to graduate school and then to school to become a nurse anesthesiologist. She got married. She moved to Tucson with her husband Blake, a doctor. She got a nursing job. Finally, four years after the arrest, she tried to run. Nothing big, only short ways. Something amazing has happened. Her foot did not hurt. She ran a little bit more. Her brother Ryan Callister, also a runner, mentioned that he was training for the Boston Marathon. She thought she might want to do that, too.
Last September she participated in a marathon in Huntsville, Utah, just outside Ogden. Although she had driven 50-60 miles just a week before the race, she set a course record and finished it in 2 hours 44 minutes and 27 seconds to qualify for Boston. The result encouraged her, but she was not sure what time really meant. The race in Huntsville is mostly downhill, starting from a 9,000 foot peak in the Utah mountains. Running down a mountain is different than walking on the hilly streets of Boston against the best in the world.
Salespeople called Pilkington and asked for help preparing for Boston. They talked by phone once a week, with the coach providing a roadmap for the next seven days. It was not an ideal arrangement. Since Pilkington was unable to watch her running, she could only leave the times she had given him. She ran alone, usually after work, when she was mentally exhausted. Most top marathon runners train with other top runners who improve each other. Sellers had only themselves and the scorching heat of the desert.
"I did not want to use any of that as an excuse for not doing a good workout," she says. She pressed on.
Neither seller nor Pilkington expected gloss in Boston. Her biggest hope was that she could finish in the top 10 and run for less than 2 hours 45 minutes, the time it took to qualify for the US trials before the 2020 Olympics. The race day was terrible. Rain spilled, a dark mist lay over the course. A strong wind whipped through the streets. No matter which way she walked, it felt like it was blowing in her face.
Everyone was slow. Sellers times were below what she wanted, but with the wind there as nothing she could do. She guessed that there were about fifteen women in front of her, but she could not be sure. At the end of the race, the cheers for her grew louder. She heard fans scream and pushed her on. The wind blew stronger. She kept running.
At the finish she looked at her time: 2 hours 44 minutes 04 seconds. She saw a woman who looked like a race organizer and asked which place she had finished.
"Second," said the woman.
"Are you serious?", Sellers cried. "By no means did I come second."
The woman assured her that she had finished second.
"You can not be serious," Sellers repeated.
"Second," said the woman] Sarah Sellers crosses the finish line. "src =" https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/5ad5a7b40e459fcb30ef9ebf029916fb2e29d08a/0_0_2184_3272/master/2184.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=782324aa1cca632e6a12c2cf92c548f7 "/>
Later she learned that many of the women had dropped out in front of her. The wind and the rain were too much. The others, she had been on the way.
"It's just so hard," says Pilkington, repeating a word he uses repeatedly when talking about sellers. "These conditions will get you done, you just fought through them."
But on the other hand, like many other top runners that day had felt the pain in their feet, they saw the X-ray and were told they would never walk again Many had broken their dreams just to prove that they could still put a shoe on the tarmac – a howling wind on a hideous, harsh New England day would not dissuade them from the course not to run across this finish line, making their status as an Olympic hope unlikely for Tokyo.
Now no one has to search for Sarah Callister to find Sarah Sellers, she has become a national story in the US: The Woman, Coming from nowhere in Boston, her name was everywhere on television, radio, newspapers and the Internet, then she and her husband flew back to Phoenix late Tuesday evening, where they had left their car. The car battery was dead. So much for glory.
On Thursday she went back to work, anonymous and no more, and at 6.30 a festive chocolate cake was waiting. It was hardly the breakfast of an elite marathon runner, but she did not mind. She bit into a piece of chocolate.
"It was a long way," she says into the phone.
Longer than anyone could imagine, as their name on the leaderboard and the question – Who is Sarah Sellers? – captured the imagination of the runners everywhere.