Two of America’s greatest long-distance runners — and one of its happiest, busiest couples — are preparing for this month’s Santa Rosa Marathon.
They are Santa Rosa-born Sara Bei Hall and her husband, Ryan Hall. And also the four sisters from Ethiopia the Halls adopted and with whom they run all around the world.
Sara was a marvel at Montgomery High nearly 20 years ago, then at Stanford, and today runs professionally across the U.S. and far beyond. Ryan retired from running after a career whose highlights included two Olympics appearances and the posting of the fastest times of any American in both the full and half marathon.
Sara checked in by email from Addis Ababa, where she and Ryan are summering with their daughters. She wrote:
“I recently won the Gold Coast Half (marathon) in Australia and placed 3rd at the US 7-mile championships (in Iowa). My main goal for the rest of 2017 is running the Frankfurt Marathon in Germany. The Santa Rosa Half will be a great check-in to see how my fitness is coming along.”
The Santa Rosa Marathon and its shorter, accompanying races happen the weekend of Aug. 26 and 27. The Hall girls — Hana, Mia, Jasmine and Lily — are training for the 5K.
Sara will take the weekend’s “Snoopy Challenge” by running the 5K on Saturday and the half-marathon on Sunday. Ryan won’t compete but will coach several marathoners.
The family lives in Redding but to Sara, Santa Rosa will always be home.
CPL. SKYLER JAMES has returned home, too.
James was the 23-year-old Marine Corps aviation mechanic from Petaluma who died in North Carolina last month after lightning struck the airplane he and fellow Marines were working on.
His remains arrived after sundown Friday at the Sonoma County Airport, accompanied by Marine Sgt. Bob Gohsler.
When the Alaska Airlines flight touched down, there waited a somber and respectful crowd of family members, friends, military comrades, Coast Guardsmen, Sonoma County deputy sheriffs, strangers who wished to show their respect and motorcycle escorts from the Patriot Guard, American Legion and Rip City Riders.
Windsor firefighters stood at attention alongside their vehicles, one a ladder truck displaying a large American flag.
Skyler James was renowned for the joy he derived from helping others, his subtle humor, his pranks and his extreme dedication to his work as a Marine.
He grew up in Petaluma with his mother, Robin James, a nurse at Petaluma Valley Hospital, and enlisted in the Corps three years ago.
He was at New River Air Station in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on July 11 and working on a tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey, when a lightning storm approached. He’d directed fellow Marine mechanics to exit the aircraft and was in the process of leaving when lightning struck it.
James had been declared brain-dead when loved ones from Petaluma, among them his mother and his wife, Callie Johnston, agreed that he’d want his vital organs to be donated. Eight of his organs went to patients on waiting lists.
The motorcade accompanying his remains wended its way Friday night to the Coast Guard’s training station west of Petaluma, where he was bid farewell with military honors on Saturday.