If Sara Hall can manage to win the Quad-City Times Bix 7 women’s race today, she would make a little history.
She would be part of the first husband-wife Bix 7 championship duo. Her husband, Ryan, won the men’s race in 2010.
She also might be the first woman to win the race who arrived just a day earlier after a grueling, 27-hour trip from the other side of the globe. She most definitely would be the first Bix 7 champion who has adopted four impoverished kids from the African continent.
Sara and Ryan Hall took a leap of faith nearly two years ago when they adopted four sisters from Ethiopia, ages 4, 7, 11 and 15.
It’s something they thought about doing for a long time. Ethiopia is a poverty-stricken nation with 4 million orphans and they liked the idea of creating a better life for kids who didn’t have much chance of having a good life there.
A few people are interested in adopting Ethiopian babies. Almost no one wants to take in teenagers. The Halls did.
“We just decided to take the plunge,’’ Sara said Friday at a pre-Bix party at St. Ambrose University. “We heard about them and we just couldn’t think of a reason not to do it that didn’t involve fear. We don’t really live our lives motivated by fear. We prayed about it a lot and just decided to do it.’’
It’s been an amazing two years as the girls have adjusted to life in Redding, California. None of the girls had ever attended school — two thirds of the female population in Ethiopia does not — so it has been an especially challenging time for Hana, now 17, and Mia, now 13.
“It’s hard to figure out but we’re just taking it a step at a time and they’re fortunately doing well,’’ Hall said.
“They’ve just had an amazing attitude about it and our schools have been great trying to meet them where they’re at,’’ she added.
One thing that has come a little bit easier to the girls: Running.
They never had run competitively before coming to the U.S. but with just one year of training, Hana won a sectional cross country championship last fall as a ninth-grader at Shasta High School. Mia also has shown considerable promise in the sport.
The two younger girls, Jasmine and Lily, may follow the same path eventually but for now they’re mostly into team sports.
“But they’ll jump into kids races whenever they get the chance,’’ Hall said. “Like if they were here they’d definitely do the Jr. Bix. But the older two have done quite well.’’
This summer, while school is out, the Halls have taken the kids back to Ethiopia for an extended stay.
“It’s great for them to keep their language and get back in their culture and stuff,’’ Hall said. “They’re assimilating really well into the U.S., but it’s still special just to keep those ties.’’
Hall flew here from Ethiopia on Thursday with stopovers in Frankfurt, Germany, and Chicago. She got into town Thursday evening but by Friday afternoon was feeling fine.
“I travel so much it doesn’t really faze me now,’’ she said. “I don’t think about it too much. I had a nice longer layover in Frankfurt and got out to run so that helps.’’
Hall, 34, is expected to be the primary challenger to favorite Aliphine Tuliamuk in today’s women’s race. Her lengthy resume in the sport includes victories this year in a half-marathon in Australia and the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5k in New York, where she came from behind to edge Tuliamuk.
Hall was second in the Bix 7 in 2014 and she said she picked up a few tips from Ryan, who claimed a lopsided Bix 7 win in 2010.
“I’m just excited to be at sea level,’’ she said. “It’s like 8,000, 9,000 feet where we are (in Ethiopia).’’