When runners line up at the starting line of the 2019 Boston Marathon in the quaint New England town of Hopkinton on Monday, April 15, one of Amador County’s own will be among the pack.
For Sharon Hampton of Sutter Creek, this year’s 123rd running of the Boston Marathon will mark her third time participating in the event and first since 2013, when she was stopped just one block from the finish line after two bombs detonated near the finish line in a terrorist attack in 2013.
“I was in the first group that was stopped,” said Hampton, who turned 77 years old last month. “They would not tell us what happened, only that we would not be allowed to finish the race.”
That moment started an incredibly stressful and confusing couple of hours, as Sharon’s daughter was near the finish line waiting to cheer her mom on through the finish.
“It was hours before we found each other and knew that we were both safe,” she said.
Over the next couple of months, Hampton struggled through the disappointment of not being able to finish the race, as well as the tragedy itself. But despite that traumatic experience, she did not stop running.
Last year, Hampton ran the California International Marathon in Sacramento and finished with the fourth best time in the 36-year history of the race for female runners in her age group. That performance was not only enough to qualify her for this year’s Boston Marathon, but also earned her a special bib signifying she is a top 10 runner in her division.
“It is indeed an honor to be in the top 10 in your age group,” Hampton said. “The Boston Marathon is considered the ultimate in marathons as it pits the best against the best.”
Sharon Hampton is not a natural-born runner, nor has she been running since a young age. Actually, running showed up in her life as a way to relieve stress during a tough time.
“I started running when I was about 40 years old,” Sharon said. “I was recently divorced and was raising my two daughters and was feeling a lot of pressure. One day I ran down to the end of the road and back and decided right then and there that I would run for the rest of my life.”
Years later, she started running half-marathons and then, eventually, full marathons.
She follows an intense training regimen in preparation for marathons.
“My goal is to run at least 50 miles a week,” she said. “Running a marathon takes four months of training to build up stamina and endurance.”
Sharon enjoys running all over Amador County, but in preparation for this year’s Boston Marathon, she’s been running up Sutter Creek-Volcano road and back, which is great for hill training.
Sharon’s goals for her third Boston Marathon are to finish the race and to do so in hopefully less than 4½ hours, which would place her among the top runners in her division.
At age 77, Hampton is showing no signs of slowing down.
“Running to me is more than a hobby,” Hampton said. “It is my passion and I hope to continue running for the rest of my life.”