Thirty thousand people converged in Boston on April 16 to run the historic Boston Marathon. Runners had to fight through horrible weather conditions, including 10 mph headwind and a mixture of rain and snow. Despite the conditions, or maybe because of them, American underdogs were able to shock the world.
There was no shortage of inspiration — Shalane Flanagan, a Boston native coming off a historic NYC marathon victory in 2017, looked to improve upon a 2013 ninth place Boston finish. Survivors from the bombing five years ago returned to run with amputated limbs and ice in their veins. An American man looked to win for the first time in five years. An American woman victory would be the first in 30 years.
In the midst of hundreds of professional runners and sponsored athletes, Weber State University alumna Sarah Sellers showed up at the starting line, simply hoping not to embarrass herself, according to a quote in a Weber State press release. She ran her first marathon in September. She works a full-time job as a nurse, so she had to train early in the morning or late at night. She ran less than 100 miles per week, far below the standard for professional runners.
Sellers posted a time of 2:44.04 to finish second to Desiree Linden. It was the first time two Americans have finished first and second in Boston since 1979.
Sellers’ finish is the best ever by a native of Utah at the Boston Marathon.
“I think I’m going to wake up, and this will be a dream,” Sellers said. “It was like a hurricane out there.”
Sellers was a nine-time Big Sky champion during her career at WSU from 2009–12. She won the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter title three times each at the Big Sky outdoor championships and won the 5,000 meters twice and the 3,000 meters once at the indoor championships. She currently holds six places in WSU’s career top 10 list, and she earned Big Sky All-Conference honors 15 times in track and field and cross country.
She was a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American, the only athlete in WSU history to earn Academic All-American honors three times. She was twice named as the WSU Female Athlete of the Year.
Sellers now lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband Blake. She works as a nurse anesthetist. She is still coached by current Weber State women’s track and field head coach Paul Pilkington.
“This is a game changer for Sarah in just her second marathon,” Pilkington said. “This was one of the best fields they have ever had and was really tough conditions. I knew she was in good shape because her workouts were going so well. She has persevered through injuries, graduate school and has a full-time job, and still able to train in world class conditions.”
With her time, Sellers qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
After the race, Sellers was flooded with press conferences and interview requests. She had to fly home the next day to get back to work. Asked whether she would pursue a professional running career, Sellers said she was unsure. She wants to start training with a professional running group, and she hopes to soon run another marathon. Hopefully, she’ll run in better conditions.