Sarah DeGraff is a Grand Rapids, Michigan native running the Afton 50K Trail Race this Saturday, June 2. She decided to run this race and raise funds for Running in Silence to support bringing eating disorder awareness to more athletes and coaches around the country. Every $1,000 donated helps us reach another group of athletes and/or coaches. You can donate here!
Sarah holds a BA in International Development. She is currently earning her Master’s in Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she is researching organic vegetable variety trials. Previously, she has worked as an Agricultural Extension Educator with UW-Madison Division of Extension. She enjoys running on the Ice Age Trail and Kettle Moraine trails nearby, as well as gardening, backpacking, hiking, traveling, and biking.
I ran my first marathon at age 27. “Limped through” is probably a more accurate description. Thanks to IT band issues I had throughout training, I wound up walking the final three miles into the finish chute. I immediately signed up for another race, despite my coworkers laughing at me as I hobbled around the office for the following week.
I had fallen in love with the training process of endurance sport.
I am not a traditional athlete. I didn’t join a track or cross-country team in high school or college. Training competitively started about five years ago, when I joined a marathon training team organized by a local running store. When my pace improved, I signed up for as many road races as I could.
Two years later, I moved away from friends and family to work on an organic farm in northern Wisconsin and began to train for my first ultramarathon trail race on my own, away from friends and family. I stayed busy working forty hours a week on the farm plus ten hours of training. The improvements I saw in my running performances added to the excitement. I felt a strong emotional connection to running, identified myself as a runner, and started to win age group awards and place in races.