Pushing Forward: Meet Sara Salerno

For many people, running is a way to stay active and find refuge from the chaos of everyday life, but for Sara Salerno it has become so much more over the years. Growing up, Sara had written off running as something that was not for her. She even quit shotput on the first day of practice, determining there was too much running for field participants. However, in 2012, she took the first step and began running as a way to stay active and in shape for her upcoming wedding. It was not long before she caught the running bug and became completely hooked.

Since then, her accomplishments have been nothing short of incredible. Sara has 14 half marathons, 11 marathons and two 50K races under her belt. She has completed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon four times as a member of Team Molex. This year, despite the Chicago Marathon transitioning to a virtual experience due to COVID-19, Sara pushed forward to conquer those 26.2 miles. She returned to a familiar course for her Bank of America Chicago Marathon virtual 26.2, completing her 11th full marathon where she finished her first marathon 5 years ago—at the Prairie Fire Marathon in Wichita.

Sara had been running for 3 years before signing up for her first full marathon. Her inspiration came from an unlikely source—a participant on an episode of Extreme Weight Loss with Chris and Heidi Powell. The participant was Sara Murphy, who has dwarfism and had the drive to push through a full marathon. This was a life-changing episode for Sara, and she realized she was also capable of such an achievement. She signed up for her first marathon that day.

Throughout the years, running became more than the accomplishment of completing races. To Sara, running is about community and camaraderie. While living in Wichita, she became a coach with Fleet Feet, where she helped others train for their first marathon. Her role was to run with them at a certain pace and, more importantly, keep them motivated, energized and excited about their accomplishments. She helped coach 8 different groups to achieve their goals.

Three years ago, Sara and her husband left Wichita to move to Colorado Springs. Going to a new, unknown city can be scary and isolating, but Sara found solace and community through running. Not long after the move, she joined the local She Runs This Town running group—a safe place for women to meet other women who are interested in running and holding each other accountable. This group was about more to Sara than just staying active, and it helped her cultivate some of her best friendships.

Running and living in Colorado was an entirely new challenge for Sara. Every weekend, she aims to spend at least 8 hours hiking in the mountains. The high altitude acts as a constant resistance training, which has pushed her body to the extreme. Sara strives to be marathon-ready at all times; in fact, she had completed no training prior to her most recent marathon. She pushes herself every day to be at that level and holds an impressive streak in 2020. She has run at least 1 mile or hiked in the mountains every day for more than 280 days.

What started as a small activity to get in shape became a cornerstone of Sara’s life. Her advice to her younger self and to all runners interested in taking that first step is to simply believe in yourself and all that your body can accomplish. To be successful in running, you must have a drive—a fire within you—to push forward. Although running is undoubtedly physical, it is also important to be mentally strong. Find what works for you, whether it is a mantra like “just keep swimming” or a methodology of dividing your runs into milestones. Most importantly, find or create a support system that motivates you and holds you accountable to achieve your goals. With strong support, dedication and determination, you can accomplish what you set your mind to.

Congratulations to Sara and all runners who conquered 26.2 for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Virtual Experience! Your dedication in the face of adversity is inspiring, and we look forward to seeing all that you accomplish.