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Half-marathoner inspired by father’s ability to balance running, family

May 10, 2019
By ELIZABETH IZZO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The last time Sarah Krucoff Borell was in Lake Placid, her father had recently died, but now she's coming back for the 15th annual Lake Placid Marathon and Half Sunday, June 9.

It was nearly three years ago, and she had driven four hours from her home in the Westchester County hamlet of Granite Springs to compete in the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon.

Borell's father, Walter Krucoff, was her inspiration. Running was a passion they shared. A man that raised four kids and worked full time for the government, Krucoff was somehow able to strike a balance in his life and get everything done.

Article Photos

Sarah Krucoff Borell poses with her father, Wlater Krocoff, at the end of October 2015, the day before she ran the Marine Corps marathon. He died from Alzheimer's on Dec. 3, 2015.
(Photo provided)

Borell, a 44-year-old mother of two in 2016, was still figuring out how to strike that same balance.

When she landed in Lake Placid, she was physically ready to tackle the course. But the loss of her dad was still fresh; his funeral only six months in the rearview.

"I didn't think I'd get through that day without something from him, pushing me to finish," she said.

Borell swam for more than an hour on the 2.4-mile Mirror Lake course, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles. It's a feat that took months of rigorous training, and a toll on her body.

After 11 hours and 19 minutes of non-stop, muscle-taxing, exacting endurance, she rounded a corner - and there it was. After all the training, her father's passing, the day-to-day trials and tribulations - she could see the finish line at the Olympic Speedskating Oval.

Somehow, she'd done it. And somehow, she knew her father had a hand in it.

Borell entered the Oval and looked to the heavens. She lifted her hand to her mouth and sent a kiss to the sky, where she hoped her father was watching her.

At 11:19:03, she came in 226th place out of nearly 2,300 people that completed Ironman that day.

"I had a phenomenal day."


Back to Lake Placid

That Ironman finish still makes Borell emotional, and Lake Placid is a place ingrained in her memory.

"I love Lake Placid," she said. "It's one of my favorite places. The whole community, the whole town really is great.

"Everybody is really welcoming to the athletes when they come in for these long weekends."

When Borell learned about the Lake Placid Marathon and Half, she knew she wanted to come back.

For her, the 13.1-mile half marathon will be a marker of progress, an indicator of what type of training she'll need to focus on as she heads to the Philadelphia Marathon in November.

Borell has been training for the half marathon for months.

"You've got to give yourself at least three to four months of solid training," she said. "You've got to get into some of the harder training, with intervals."

Borell is aiming for a time of one hour and 50 minutes. Her best time for a half marathon is one hour and 37 minutes.

"Now I have to be realistic," she said.


Lifelong athlete

For Borell's lifelong love for athletics started in the water.

"I started swimming when I was 5," she said.

That morphed into playing field hockey, basketball and lacrosse, a rotation she retained into her college years.

"I kind of hated running when I was in high school and college," she said.

Borell's passion for running came in 2005 after her son was born. At first, she ran to shed some weight and stay in shape.

"I started with walking while pushing my son in the stroller. Then I said, 'I'm going to run with the stroller,'" she said.

Borell said that experience with her son made her a faster runner. Without the weight of the stroller, running on her own was easy.

"It helped a lot with my training."

That eventually led to races, starting with a 5K before she entered her first half marathon in 2007, and first full marathon in 2010.

"That turned into triathlons, and that turned into Ironman," she said. "I've done close to 10 marathons. I've qualified for the Boston Marathon three times."

In one of her more memorable races, Borell participated in a marathon in White Plains when her son was 3-and-a-half years old. It was the first time he saw her run. When she crossed the finish line, her boy was there alongside her husband cheering her on.

"I was so happy to see them there," she said. "It makes you feel really good."


Finding a balance

Borell's daily life now isn't the same as it was when she first started running.

After 12 years as a stay-at-home mom, Borell recently went back to work full time. Her son is now 15, and her daughter is 10. She works as an archival assistant at The New York Times. It's a job that puts her on the front line of preserving history. Roughly six million images, the entire New York Times photo archive, is being digitized with her help.

It's also a position that requires her to commute two hours each way from her suburban home in the Hudson Valley to the Times building on Eighth Avenue in New York City.

"I'm still trying to figure out how to train, work and be a mom," she said.

Borell leaves the house around 6:30 a.m., clad in a reflective vest with her slick brown hair tied up.

That hour in the morning as the sun is coming up, that's her time to reset, refresh and run.

"It's my escape time," she said.

At 47, Borell still runs anywhere from 5 to 7 miles each day.

"I'm very fortunate that my body allows me to do this," she said.

She finishes her run by 7:30 a.m., gets her kids out the door and hops on a train. When she comes home, it's usually around 8:30 p.m.

Sometimes, when she's running, she thinks about nothing. But more often than not, her father enters her mind's periphery.

"I want to do this to honor my father's memory," she said. "Somehow, he got everything done."

He struck a balance.

"If he could do it, I know I can," she said.



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