In a recent article by the New York Times, Sara Hall talked about her new role as mother to her sibling group of four daughters adopted from Ethiopia in 2015. Hall is one of the United States’ “elite distance runners,” and is married to Ryan Hall, Olympian marathoner and the fastest American distance runner ever. In addition to the huge changes that becoming an adoptive mother brought, the Halls have recently faced other big adjustments including Ryan’s sudden retirement from the sport. Sara was also training for the 2016 Rio Olympics and has been training to run professionally for Asics in the 2016 New York Marathon.
The Halls give a lot of credit for their family’s easy adjustments this last year to the running community in which they train. While they were in the adoption process, Ryan and Sara spent five months in Ethiopia training, learning some language and living in the community where their daughters’ orphanage is located. Many of their training mates in their California community are Ethiopian. The Halls spend a good bit of time off the track with their training partners, sharing meals and family time together. Keeping the girls’ connected to their Ethiopian culture is important to Sara, so she’s learned how to cook training-healthy versions of the girls’ favorite dishes and the family all still works on their Amharic as well as their English. The family is active in their California community and in their local church. The girls are all thriving in their local public schools and they all seem to have embraced their parents’ athletic lifestyles wholeheartedly. The two older girls are runners and dad, Ryan, coached their track team last spring. The younger two are playing soccer and trying gymnastics.
Sara is quick to point out that there are still many layers of transition to work through, even with something as small as how to use paper towels. “My daughter will use 10 paper towels to pick up a stray dog hair,” Sara said. “But she’s never had paper towels, and she doesn’t understand about the environment. There are so many layers you forget they don’t know yet.” But they are thankful to have a strong sports family around them, an active Ethiopian community in which to participate, and a strong personal faith to navigate the changes. “Faith is a huge part of every aspect of life, like getting over trauma, and we use our faith in that process.”
For more on the Hall family, check out the full story.
Photo Credit: Heather Armstrong
*Edited to add that Sara ran a terrific time of 2:36:12, taking of ninth place among women and securing her rank as third overall among U.S. women and seventh in her age group. Congratulations to Sara and her family!