Monumental Runner: Sara Burback

Name: Sara Burback

Self-described age group: 33

Residence: Washington, DC

Occupation: Nonprofit, international development sector

Volunteer roles in the running world: Leader of D.C.’s Christ City Church mission team to Israel and Palestine, where nine team members completed the half marathon.

Why you run: I run to process my day. I run to set goals and realize I’m capable of more than I think I am. I run to bond with my sister and nephews when I visit them. I run to exercise my right to movement. I run because I want to set an example that girls and women can do this, and there is power in our numbers. I run because it is act of nonviolent resistance. I run because it is an embodied metaphor of overcoming, endurance, and being a bad-ass when facing new and ongoing challenges. I run because it’s a way to explore the world. I run because I love the friends I have made in the running community. I run to tell a different story.

When did you get started running: I started running regularly in my mid-20’s when I returned to the States after my service in the Peace Corps. Our group was evacuated due to safety reasons, and running was a way I could process my mixed emotions about the experience and reevaluate my next steps (and I didn’t want to pay for a gym membership). I loved the personal and physical strength I felt I was developing in the process, and ran my first half marathon a couple of years later!

Have you taken a break from running: I’ve had a couple of minor injuries that required rest and healing, but that was about it!

Training shoe: On Cloud Ace

Coach or training group: D.C. Run Crew!

The hardest race you’ve ever run: My first marathon! Baltimore was hillier than I anticipated and I could barely feel my legs the last six miles, but I ran that whole course and felt like a champion at the finish line.

Most adventurous decision you’ve made with your running: I found the Palestine Marathon in a news article a few years ago and knew I had to run it. I’ve had a long-standing interest in the region and studied the human rights issues there while earning my MA, and figured this was finally my chance to travel to Israel and Palestine and defend the right to movement – a basic right that Palestinians lack on a daily basis there. I got connected a few months later with a friend leading a group to explore the region, meet Israelis and Palestinians doing peacemaking work, and participate in the marathon. Running in that race was challenging, both emotionally and physically. The course in Bethlehem runs along the 26 foot-high separation wall, through the 71 year-old Palestinian Aida refugee camp, and up and down the hills of Bethlehem. It is an opportunity to run in solidarity with the Palestinian community in an act of nonviolent resistance to the occupation, and to briefly begin to understand daily life there. It has brought be back every year since my first race in 2016, and I love every step of it – even the hill up to the finish line in front of the Church of the Nativity.

Running mentors: Any woman out there running to meet their next goal.

My favorite place to run in the D.C. area is:  The National Mall

Favorite local trail:  Rock Creek Park

My best race was: This year’s Palestine Half Marathon! I had two incredible teammates that were committed to running every step of the way together and encourage one another up every hill. We crushed it, and I got my best time in that race!

Favorite local race: I think the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile may be my new favorite! The Washington, D.C. Ragnar was pretty great, too.

Ideal post-run meal: Pancakes!

Favorite flavor of gel, gu, etc: Chocolate peanut butter

Pet peeve: Humid weather

Goals: Run a new race every year.

Your advice for a new runner:  Register for a race to have a goal to works towards, and get a friend to join you in writing a new story together!

Favorite running book: Run the World, by Becky Wade

Song in your head during a run: Run the World (Girls), by Beyonce

Have you dealt with a major injury: No

Running quote: “Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. ” – Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Why is the D.C. area a great place to be a runner:  There is a strong running community here, and I love the friends I have met in our shared journey.


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