Goal achieved: Fishers runner accomplishes longtime dream of finishing the Boston Marathon


Sara Farny’s interest in running started small — a 5K here and there — but soon after she gave birth to her second son about 12 years ago, it became an important stress outlet — and one that didn’t require a lot of planning.

“I can just run, you know what I mean?” she said. “Get out the door, literally push them in a stroller and get out the door.”

Farny, a Fishers resident in the Geist area, said she also found a community through running.

“I was a member of the Fishers (YMCA) and they had a running group there and I found my people,” she said. “I think it was more the people that draw drew me in — to do more than just that first half marathon. So, initially it was just to get out of the house and have a little bit of mommy time. But then the community drew me in for more.”

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Fishers runner Sara Farny accomplished her goal of running the Boston Marathon April 15. (Photos courtesy of Sara Farny)

That “more” eventually led her to qualify for and compete in the April 15 Boston Marathon. She completed the race in three hours, 49 minutes and 24 seconds, placing 14,133 out of the approximately 25,000 runners. For her age category — 40 to 44 — she placed 876th.

Farny, 41, said there were a couple challenges that she couldn’t really train for ahead of the big race: heat and hills. The temperature in Boston got up to about 70 on the day of the race, and she hadn’t run in warm weather for many months. And then there’s the terrain, which is very different from the flatlands of central Indiana.

“I ran a lot around Geist — the hills of Geist through the neighborhoods around Geist — and they do help,” she said. “It’s just, they’re not as big or long as the ones in Boston. Now, having done it, I probably would have (trained on) more hills.”

Farny’s first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2019, but that almost didn’t happen. Her son, Noah, was diagnosed with cancer — a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — right when her marathon training was set to start. She wasn’t sure she could or should start training.

“It ended up running was my outlet during his treatments,” she said. “I had girlfriends meet me at the most random times — middle of the day, you know, super early morning. They knew I needed it just as much as I knew I needed it.”

Noah’s treatment was aggressive, relatively fast and effective. He rang the “cancer-free” bell about four months after his diagnosis, on Oct. 4, 2019, and a week later, Farny ran the Chicago Marathon to benefit the Ronald McDonald House nonprofit, which supports families of children going through medical treatments.

Farny said helping Ronald McDonald House had been her intention before Noah was diagnosed, and it became more important afterward, because her family used that nonprofit’s services.

She has competed in other marathons since then, but the Boston Marathon has been a goal for a while. Farny finally qualified for it during the 2023 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.

Walking up to the start of the April 15 race felt a little surreal.

“It was like a pinch-me moment, I’m finally here kind of thing,” she said. “Five of us from the Fishers Running Club all started together and made it about halfway together, and just soaked up the run and the people and the crowds.”

She said she had to walk up some of the hills, rather than run, and the spectators helped encourage her to continue.

“I’ve always heard about Boston crowds, and they truly did not disappoint,” she said. “You weren’t ever alone on the course because of the amount of people just cheering for everybody. They really helped push you through.”

When she reached the home stretch, she said, she started crying.

“I just threw my arms up when I saw the finish line and cried like a baby as I crossed underneath the finish line,” Farny said. “It was everything I wanted. It was hard, but it was everything I wanted.”

Later that day, she got something else she really wanted — a well-deserved bacon cheeseburger and a beer.

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Fishers resident Sara Farny, with her son, Noah, is a longtime runner, and has participated in the popular Geist Half Marathon since it started.

Geist Half Marathon ambassador

In addition to the big-city races, Sara Farny runs the Geist Half Marathon nearly every year, and is a race ambassador — helping to promote that local race, which takes place Sept. 14 this year.

“My husband and I have done the race, one of their races — either the 5K, 10K or half marathon — almost every year,” she said. “I’ve only missed twice, and it was because I had two May babies and it was back when the race was in May.”

The race, organized by the City of Fishers, switched from spring to fall in 2023 to not compete with other springtime races in the greater Indianapolis area.

The Geist Half Marathon also offers 10K and 5K options, with all the racecourses in the Geist neighborhood. Registration is open for the popular race. For more, visit geisthalf.com.