Facebook Twitter

How placing second in the Boston Marathon was a game-changer for Utah native Sarah Sellers

SHARE How placing second in the Boston Marathon was a game-changer for Utah native Sarah Sellers
It’s been a life-changing thing. She’s got so many people who want a piece of her, and she’s been very accommodating. – Sarah Sellers’ agent Bob Wood

SALT LAKE CITY — The last time we checked on Sarah Sellers, she was being deluged with worldwide media requests and coping with overnight fame in the wake of her stunning second-place finish in the Boston Marathon. More than a month later, the nurse who came out of nowhere to defeat world and Olympic medalists in the world’s most famous road race is still riding the wave she created in Boston.

She now has her own Wikipedia page, an agent, a weekly podcast and a shoe deal. She has an invitation to ride the lead float in a Phoenix parade this fall. She has received calls from Oakley and Timex, among other companies, about endorsing their products. And the interviews continue. During the broadcast of the London Marathon, she got up in the middle of the night to do live interviews for BBC radio and TV (after performing jumping jacks to wake herself).

Sellers has been invited to run road races on the pro circuit, and this time she won’t have to pay her entry fee or expenses, as she famously did at Boston. Her first post-Boston race will be the New York (all-women) Mini 10K in June; her second will be Salt Lake’s Deseret News 10K in July. She hasn’t chosen her next marathon, but she has an offer from the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia, among others.

Sellers is a hot commodity in running circles and her anonymity is long gone. Hey, aren’t you that marathoner? According to her agent, Bob Wood, Sellers had 6.9 million Google searches for her name the first two days after the Boston race.

“It’s been a life-changing thing,” says Wood. “She’s got so many people who want a piece of her, and she’s been very accommodating.”

Sellers, an Ogden native, has returned to work as a nurse anesthetist at Banner-University Hospital in Tucson, while also training at an elite level for professional road races. She still does her training runs at 4 a.m. before she goes to work, and, if she is doubling that day, she’ll run again in the evening after work. When she isn’t running or working, she’s trying to respond to the demands of fame.

“I’m just trying to respond to all the messages,” she says. “Sometimes I feel like I’m making progress, but I’m not. It’s been good and exciting, but this is added on top of trying to work full time and train. It’s not sustainable.”

She is trying to cut back her work hours to facilitate her growing schedule, which she finds ironic. She was able to attend grad school to train for her current nursing job only when she was forced to quit running for several years because of a slow-healing stress fracture. “It would have been impossible to do both (running and grad school),” she says. Now that she’s healthy, she wants to devote more time to running and reduce her nursing schedule.

“I love my job and Banner has been really excited and supportive,” she says. “I don’t want to be a burden on my co-workers, and I want to be reliable.”

Sellers is the daughter of an orthopedic surgeon, Neil Callister, and the wife of an aspiring orthopedic surgeon. She met her husband Blake in an operating room (he was an orderly at the time). By then, Sellers, a nine-time Big Sky Conference champion at Weber State, was out of running — a slow-healing stress fracture during her senior year ended her collegiate career and derailed her post-collegiate career, as well. Before returning to the sport last fall, she had missed five years of competitive running because of the injury and grad school.

“After I graduated from anesthetist school, (Blake) encouraged me to pursue the marathon, to take some time to get back into it,” she says. “He always would talk about it. He had never seen me run.”

Her surprising performance at Boston has opened doors. She will have her expenses paid for by races and can earn money from a shoe deal and appearance fees. So far, Sellers has committed to only the two aforementioned races, and the Deseret News race will be her first in her home state since her breakthrough at Boston.

Looking ahead, she says, “My goals are different now than when I was in college. In college I was always very goal-oriented. I wanted to be an All-American and didn’t get that. I thought I was a failure. I’m still going to set big goals and work to achieve them, but whatever happens I want to enjoy the progress I make and stay healthy. I didn’t do that in college.”

Email: drob@deseretnews.com