Armenia is not widely known for endurance sports. Yerevan, however, is home to a rapidly growing culture of distance running, and Sarah Fountain has her eye on bringing Armenia onto the international scene and the 2020 Olympic Game. After capturing second place in the Yerevan Half Marathon and Tbilisi Half Marathon in 2017, both of which drew strong competition from Russia and Ukraine, Sarah is ready to carry the Armenian flag across two of the largest marathons in the world this year: Boston and Chicago.
Sarah Fountain grew up in the greater New York City area to an Armenian mother and American father. She participated in the AGBU Yerevan Internship program in 2015, marking her first visit to Armenia, and returned as a Birthright Volunteer two years later in 2017. After finishing the program, she decided to stay permanently in Yerevan to work as ONEArmenia’s Content Manager, and currently works as content writer for PicsArt. She began training as a professional runner for Armenia shortly after moving to Yerevan.
Running has always been an integral part of Sarah’s life. Her running career first took off in high school, where she drew attention for her performance in the 5k. She later began running longer distances during her time as a student at the University of Michigan, and realized her passion for long-distance running after graduating where she achieved semi-elite status.
Sarah has found Yerevan to be the perfect place to foster a growing running career. She trains under certified coach Vahagn Toukharian, who is a marathon and Ironman competitor himself, and is supported by TriClub Yerevan, the country’s leading team for endurance sports. Recently, the team’s members have competed in the New York City Marathon, Dubai Half-Ironman, and several are running in the Vienna Marathon this year.
Armenia has also offered the opportunity to train at high altitudes, from the Tsakhadzor sports complex that boasts some of the country’s greatest athletes, including gold-medalist Artur Aleksanyan, and she has recently trained at 2000 meters in the mountains of Jermuk.
As Sarah develops her running career, she holds the community aspect of running close. She is part of an active effort to bring women and girls of all ages in Armenia to run in a comfortable, safe environment that makes active and healthy living not only normal in Armenia, but desirable.
“A lot of people asked what I want to contribute to Armenia when I moved here, and I neverknew how to answer. Running is the most empowering tool I have in life. The idea that I could share that and become a role model for younger girls and other women who may have not had the opportunity to pursue an active lifestyle is beyond humbling, and I am so proud to be a part of this growing movement toward a healthy lifestyle in Armenia.”–Sarah Fountain
Following the Boston Marathon, Sarah will continue training with Toukharian and TriClub Yerevan to attempt to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, becoming Armenia’s first Olympic Marathoner in history.
Photo Credit: Yerevan Half Marathon