parkrunner spotlight: Sarah R

Please enjoy the latest in our ongoing series of interviews with Lillie parkrun participants. Many thanks to Sarah R for participating and to Marie Hamlin for continuing to interview. Contact us via the usual channels if you'd like to be featured in the spotlight!


Let’s get started with some general information about you.

My name is Sarah Richardson. I’m a true Ann Arbor Townie, having only skipped over to Ypsilanti to attend Eastern Michigan University. I currently work as a Medical Assistant at the University of Michigan.  


I live with my husband Keith, stepson Jacob (10), son Ian (3), and daughter Kira (2).  You will see me hauling the little kids in the double stroller, and occasionally Keith and Jacob make an appearance too. I also have two dogs, Olive and Henry who are 10 and 9, small and not barkrunners. 


This is one of my favorite family photos and was taken at parkrun!

 I love this family photo! How did you and Keith meet?


My husband and I were set up by our mutual friends. Our first date was at the Prickly Pear in Ann Arbor and we have gone there every anniversary since, so we were sad to see them close.  We have been married for five years and been together for eight. We were both athletic and actually did an Ironman for our Honeymoon.  It was Ironman Canada in beautiful Whistler, British Columbia 2015.    



Much better choice than Niagara Falls.

When did you start running seriously? 

I had always been a competitive swimmer, but in college I was on the Eastern Michigan Rowing team for three years.  My teammates and I graduated and moved in all different directions.  I started running and signing up for marathons in towns where my friends were so we could see each other, have fun, and stay fit.  I’m still running after all these years and two kids later!

I think that is a great idea - combine your love of running with catching up with old friends. 


Which one are you in this photo?

I am sitting in the 5th seat. In rowing the coxswain (steers and calls commands) sits in the stern of the boat and the numbers count down from 8 to 1, in the bow of the boat.  It’s a beautiful sport to watch! I had to take a second look to see which seat I was in. 

 Where is your favorite place to go running?

I love to run through trails especially when the trees are turning in the Fall.  Otherwise, anytime I’m able to get out and run I enjoy it. 

What do you like about Lillie parkrun?

I love many things about parkrun! Mainly how friendly everyone is and the relaxed atmosphere.  I look forward to my Saturdays to start my morning with friends, exercise, and a well-deserved coffee.  I enjoy being able to share the experience with my family. The diversity of this group is amazing, from the very fast to the slower paced walkers and everything in-between.   It allows me to be able to experience group runs with two kids in tow and gives my stepson the opportunity to run without the pressure.  


 What’s your favorite volunteer role at parkrun?

I have only volunteered for the token sorting and am happy to say I don’t think I lost any!  I would like to volunteer more and pay back for all the work others have done to allow us to run each Saturday.   

Any tips for parkrunners or first timers who are coming to visit Lillie parkrun?

I would tell first timers: You will be hooked after your first parkrun so clear your Saturday schedule! 

 If you’ve toured at other parkrun events, are there any tips or favorite memories you want to share?

In December we went to Minnesota to visit my husband’s family and we had planned to do a parkrun there, but the roads were too icy and we were not able to go.  In July, I was going to do a 70.3 Ironman in Muskoka Canada and found a parkrun near there, but it has been postponed until 2021.  Whenever I have plans to travel I will be looking to see if a parkrun is nearby! 

Would you mind sharing a brief overview of the Ironman race? I am assuming that it is 70.3 miles of Swimming, riding, and running.

Yes, it is 70.3 miles. It consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. My worst event is the longest, the bike. I find the whole experience exciting, everyone is friendly, and you meet so many people from all over the world on the course.


Wow! How long does it take to complete?

The last one I completed in 2014 in Muncie, Indiana and it took 6hrs.

The last one?  How many have you competed in?

I’ve done two half-Ironman series races (70.3) Steelhead in Benton Harbor, Mi in 2013 and Muncie in 2014. The Ironman Canada -Whistler in 2015 was a full, which is 140.6 miles (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run). Training for the full was really intense and more of a mental feat, but it was amazing to finish! I had several flat tires during my bike and barely made the cut off to be able to finish and start the run portion. I finished in just over 16 hours! I have my eyes set on one more full - Ironman Florida.


So let me get this straight, not only do you have to do all those miles you have a time limit?

Yes. You have 17hrs to finish the race and each section has a cut off that you have to make which is different for each race. Most races allow around 2hrs for the swim, 9hrs for the bike, and 6hrs for the run. The 70.3 also has a cut off of 8.5 hours after the start.


Are you allowed breaks in between each lag?

No breaks, in fact in my transition from the bike to the run, in the full, was cut so close that there was a team of people stripping off my bike shoes, putting on my socks, tying my shoes, and pulling off my helmet. 


Wow. I am in Awe! What is your training regimen like?

I workout every day and sometimes twice a day during the peak of training. Usually around 12 hours per week of swimming, biking, and running. Exercising is my happy place!


First time putting on the cap and goggles in a while.

Sarah, I am truly impressed with this. I've always been impressed to see you pushing that double stroller around Lillie parkrun; now to find out that is a cakewalk compared to these strenuous races you compete in!

When not training for Ironman races, are there any other activities that you really enjoy?

I enjoy doing hikes with my family. Our favorite is going to the Sandra Richardson Park and going over the bridges. They have nice small hikes that are just perfect for my little ones


Do you have any hobbies?

I like to sew, but haven’t had much time.  The last project I did was making Kira a few dresses.  I hope to get back into sewing when the kids are older. 



The dress is adorable and Kira is a cutie! I love that she smiles with her whole face.

Do you have any pets?

I have two dogs that have a combined weight of just over 20lbs. While they love swimming in the lake and pool, they are not much for running.  Henry is the smaller black dog, and Olive is the white one. 


They look like sweet fur babies! And swimming is much easier on their joints!

Do you like to travel?

I do love traveling and am trying to enjoy camping more.  If only the bugs would stay out of the tent! (The shirt says it all….Happy Camper!)


Michigan has some great State Park campgrounds.  Where have you camped?

So far we have done Sleepy Hollow in Lansing and Fort Custer in Battle Creek. I think Keith finds places that are close, but not close enough that I will bail when the bugs come out. :)

Those bugs can really put a damper on your camping experience – especially when they get in the tent and buzz and bite you all night.  

Sarah, I want to thank you for sharing your love of running, swimming, and sewing with us.  I hope that you are able to get to that Ironman race and become a parkrun tourist as soon as the restrictions are lifted.  I look forward to seeing you, with your double stroller, running around Lillie Park; until then, thank you for your essential service and stay safe. 

See Sarah's parkrun history here.