Race SLO Community Ambassador: Sharyl Naftal

Our Race SLO ambassadors share their stories about motivation, determination, endurance and growth to inspire us and remind us that we are on this journey together.

I’ve spent most of my life in Atlanta, but after visiting San Francisco in 1992, that was it! I would make it out west someday and that was that.

Then on April 16, 2001, my world changed. I lost my mother to cancer after a long six-month battle.

I have always been a runner, but had never run more than 6 miles. My running buddies thought it would be good for me to train for a marathon. Not having run nearly that long before, but being the driven “I can do anything” person, I said yes. We trained for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. in October, 2001. I remember the race very well.

As we ran past the Pentagon, where the damage of the 9/11 attacks just happened, I was overcome with emotion. It was not only my first marathon, at a difficult time, but then passing what was left behind from what happened to our country on Sept 11, 2011 – was overwhelming. The Marines were at the finish line putting medals over our heads – I remember how I felt – but the next thought that came to my mind was OK, I’m ready for my next race!

I did four more full marathons afterwards, three in California, and too many half marathons to count. I came out to run the San Francisco half marathon over the years many times, always knowing I’d be back to live on left coast for good. I still do the SF half marathon every year.

When my daughter finished college and my son high school, it was time! We packed up and headed west. We moved to SLO without knowing one single person.

I keep up with friends and family on the other side of the country and miss them very much. But I can truly say I am a happier person being where I was meant to be. My runs have so much more meaning. When I run I can work out my thoughts, plan my days, revisit situations needing attention and just get inspired to live more productive days.

At 55, I can honestly say that running has given me the strength, energy and power to make every day count.

I think we all have something that gives us that. If you don’t, you must find it and make it part of your life. Running has always been there for me as the one constant through raising my kids, the times of celebrations and the bumps in the road of life along the way – puns intended. Now, I must go run...

Sharyl Naftal

Pismo Beach, CA

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ABOUT RACE SLO

Established in 2008 to bring world class sporting events to the beautiful California Central Coast, the Race SLO endurance event portfolio includes the inaugural California Warrior Experience (Spring 2018), 7th SLO Marathon + Half, Relays and 5K plus Kids Races (Spring 2018), 3rd SLO Ultra trail races (late Summer 2018) and the recently added US Trail Running Conference (late Summer 2018).

The Race SLO Team produces both fun & competitive running events year-round to create human connection through fitness and raise funds for local nonprofits: Jack’s Helping Hand, The Land Conservancy of SLO, Team Red, White & Blue, Grizzly Youth Academy and SLO County Parks.

Our mission: Through human experiences, we create social & economic impact to share our legacy.