My Favorite Marathons & Books of 2017

This year I ran 10 marathons for kids and schools, read 10 books, helped build a school in Senegal, (West Africa) and raised $88,721 for education. I’m so incredibly grateful for your support, donations and love. THANK YOU ALL, from the bottom of my heart. ❀

My goal for 2017 was to run 10 marathons and raise money for another school. I started my “10 for 10” campaign suggesting $10 donation for each marathon I ran. My initial goal was to raise $30,000 for one more school. You donated almost three times that! ❀
The donations ranged from $5 to $10,000 – your generosity and kindness have surpassed my wildest imagination. You ALL are so kind, and I truly hope you know that.
I will continue to run marathons and keep all your names in my heart and on the back of my running shirts. πŸ™‚ I LOVE my shirts, having your names printed on them reminds me that we can be so kind and generous to one another. I take that belief strongly to my heart; it fuels me with much joy and hope.

Here are my favorite top 4 marathons, I couldn’t stop at top 3 πŸ™‚ And few pictures.

  1. Great Wall of China, China – This was by far the hardest marathon I’ve ever run. I ran on the wall and it was BRUTAL. Temperatures reached 100 degrees (38 C) and I got really sick multiple times. Despite all that, it was one of the most incredible experiences in my life. It was stunningly beautiful, humbling and breathtaking.
    I cried a lot during the race; I was overwhelmed with the scenery, with the pain that I was going through, the kindnesses, passion and determination of the human spirit – it was all packed in that one day, and it was simply AMAZING.

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Great_Wall_SmileLook at all those stairs behind me and the view!!

SandraMedal_Blog_1I barely made it to the finish line. I ran, stopped, threw up, fell, got up, crawled, ran again, hugged people, gave candies to kids along the way – it all took 8 hours and 19 minutes. Every single second was worth it.

Β 2. Baton Rouge Marathon, Louisiana, U.S. – I loved this marathon! The atmosphere and supporters were awesome! Saw some of the best signs, lots of food, booze, candies, cheers and love from the supporters. Really well organized, flat course, fun race and great weather.

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cafeemonde_1After the marathon I took the bus to New Orleans and had delicious beignets at the famous Cafe du Monde.

3. Rehoboth Beach Marathon, Delaware, U.S. – My 20th marathon and last one in 2017. My coaches (Coach Asteria and Coach Sid) came with me, and we had such a wonderful time! The course is really pretty, flat with one or two mild hills. Weather was perfect. At the end there are two parties and you get free food and beer. πŸ™‚ Great marathon to qualify for Boston.

Delaware Marathon 6Me with Coach Asteria and Coach Sid.
I love my coaches SO MUCH. ❀

Delaware Marathon 11Coach Sid and I at the beginning of the race.

Delaware Marathon 12I love this picture and I love coach Asteria!

Delaware Marathon 13Coach Asteria ran with me the last 4 miles. It was perfect and my heart was filled with so much joy and happiness. ❀

4. Paris MarathonΒ Paris Marathon, France – This marathon can be organized a bit better, but I still loved it very much. It’s Paris!!! How can you not love it?!! πŸ™‚
If you want to run it, be aware – you need a medical waiver in order to run it.

SignMarathon_BLOGLook who came with me to Paris! ❀

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Eiffel_Splendor_BLOGAfter the marathon, as part of my training for Great Wall Marathon, I went up to the Eiffel Tower! I took the stairs despite the pain I was already in, haha.
It was beautiful up there! ❀

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Now to books πŸ˜‰ – here are my favorite top 3 books and my favorite new word – HOPE.

  1. Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit – I love this book! HOPE – it’s the magic word. The author makes a smart case for hope and engagement in social justice movements.Β  It is a reminder, that despite all the challenges and hardships we are faced with, we must never give up or lose sight of our goals. It’s a “meditation on activism and hope”. (Guardian) It reminds me on one of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. – “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”.

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2. Find Me Unafraid, by Jessica Posner & Kennedy OdedeΒ  – Beautiful, compelling memoir of love, kindness, and HOPE. Inspiring human story. It reinforces my belief that education has a remarkable impact on breaking the cycle of poverty.

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3. It Takes a School, by Jonathan Starr – I saw the author talking about his book on TV and it really touched me so I bought the book and read it. Jonathan Starr moved to Somalia, one of the world’s failed states, and built a secondary school for children. The students have earned over $15 million dollars in scholarships and a lot of them now study around the world. It is an incredible story of triumph and HOPE.

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To all of you who celebrate it – Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays to everyone!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness, support and love. ❀

I will share soon my 2018 marathon list. My plan is to keep running, raise more money and build more schools. I can’t believe that I am about to enter my 4th year of running and Run2BuildSchools. ❀