Feb. 18, 2015
For immediate release

Innovative pioneer shines on many running fronts

(Last in a series highlighting the six members of the Sacramento Running Association’s 2015 Hall of Fame class. Today: Sally Edwards).

Sally Edwards forged many deep connections to the Sacramento running community during an innovative, pioneering career.

She co-founded the

Sacramento Running Association and its marquee event, the California International Marathon. Edwards founded Fleet Feet Sports, the go-to place for shoes for countless local runners. She also wrote 24 books on sports, fitness and health and was among the first women to finish two grueling events: the Ironman Triathlon and the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.

Edwards’ contributions earned her a spot in the Sacramento Running Association’s Hall of Fame. She and the other members of the class of 2015 – legendary Jesuit High School coach Walt Lange, Jesuit distance stars Eric and Mark Mastalir, masters standout Jim O’Neil and talented ultramarathoner Bill Finkbeiner – will be honored at the SRA’s Hall of Fame and Annual Achievement Awards dinner on Saturday at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.

Tickets for the 6 p.m. event are $50. For more information, visit www.runsra.org.

“I thought it was wonderful,” Edwards said of her selection. “I very much am appreciative of this honor.”

Edwards and John Mansoor started the Sacramento Long Distance Running Association in 1982 with plans to bring a world-class marathon to Sacramento. The CIM, a 26.2-mile test from Folsom to the state Capitol, made its debut in 1983 and has grown into a successful event, attracting more than 8,000 runners each year from around the world.

“Keeping it alive in the early years was a lot of energy,” Edwards said. “Nobody got paid.

“It (CIM) was always my dream. We’re not really where my dreams played out … It’s close. Close, but not quite there.”

Mansoor, the former long-time CIM race director and current executive director of USA Track & Field’s Pacific Association, saluted Edwards’ role in creating the CIM.

“Sally was truly an innovator and a relentless champion of equality for women,” he said. “She helped create a lifestyle that thousands of people enjoy today.

“When we first started CIM the division of men to women was 80%-20%. Sally foresaw the day when this would be 50-50, which is borne out in today’s stats. In fact, shorter distances are now 60%-40% in favor of women.

“CIM has two finish lines because Sally insisted on having a separate spotlight on the women.”

Edwards, 67, has flourished as a runner, triathlete, businessperson, writer and speaker in a multifaceted, ever-evolving career focused on fitness.

She won the Western States Endurance Run in 1980 in 22 hours, 13 minutes and 44 seconds, then returned the next year to finish second in 20:07:00. She also finished second in the 1981 Ironman Triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, 26.2-mile run) en route to 16 Ironman finishes, including the 1988 race when she set a World masters record of 10:42.

Edwards also won the American River 50-Miler in 1983 in 7:18:24, competed in the 1984 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and finished the 300-mile Eco Challenge in 1995.

“I’ve always enjoyed the position of being a pioneer,” said Edwards, a member of the Triathlon Hall of Fame (1999) and the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame (2012). “I was the fourth or fifth woman to finish Ironman and Western States.”

Edwards, who earned a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a Masters in Exercise Physiology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters in Business Administration from National University, founded Fleet Feet in 1976 before selling the company in 1993 after growing it to 40 retail locations and $20 million in retail sales.

The company, with stores in midtown Sacramento, Fair Oaks and Roseville, remains an integral part of the local running community.

“The original DNA from 30 years ago that started Fleet Feet is still there,” she said. “The SRA, the DNA is there as well.”

Edwards currently works as CEO and founder of Heart Zones USA, a fitness technology company, and serves as president of The Sally Edwards Company and The ZONING Fitness Company.

Her first book, Triathlon: A Triple Fitness Sport, was released in 1982. Her 24th book, ZONING, Fitness in a Blink, was published in 2012.

“It’s really important to reinvent yourself,” said Edwards, who was an American Red Cross volunteer during the Vietnam War. “I kind of focused on different phases of my life.

“Yeah, I am a serial entrepreneur. I’ve started a number of companies … About every 10-15 years, I choose something.

“Innovation is what I do. Sometimes I don’t stay in it long enough to get the cash cow.”

Edwards’s latest project involves using technology to promote fitness in schools.

“I love technology,” said Edwards, who lives in Sacramento with her partner Estelle Gray, mother-in-law Doris Gray and Maya Haider, an exchange student from Germany.

“I like to be in the forefront. We’re focusing locally, now focusing nationally on getting smart fitness technology to every school in America.”

Edwards told the story of a boy finishing last during a run in his P.E. class. But an app showed his heart rate was higher than anyone else’s during the run.

“The teacher said, ‘You just got an ‘A’ in P.E.’” Edwards said.

Edwards and the other five inductees join the 16 members already in the SRA Hall of Fame. The inaugural class of 2013 featured Billy Mills, Rae Clark, Eileen Claugus, Chris Iwahashi, Helen Klein, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers Smith. The 2014 class included Michael Stember, Al Baeta, Patti Gray Bellan, Lindsay Hyatt Barr, Harold Kuphaldt, John Mansoor, Heike Skaden Mansoor and Tim Twietmeyer.

The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding new ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

SRA events include the Credit Union SACTOWN Five- and Ten-Mile Run on April 12, the Gold Rush 50k on May 9, the California International Marathon on Dec. 6 and the recently concluded Super Sunday Run.