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Welcome home Sarah: World class runner returns to Warrenton to promote race

Wednesday, May. 21 | By Brandon Hartman
Before she left to begin her remarkable running career at the University of Tennessee in 2005, Sarah Bowman undoubtedly ran countless times on the roads and grassy fields surrounding Fauquier High School as a young emerging track and cross country star at FHS.

On Sunday, Bowman, now a resident of California, returned home to run those of those same streets she had sweated on and became so familiar with nearly ten years ago.

She has a new name and enhanced notoriety.

Now known as Sarah Bowman Brown as of 2012 when she married Darren Brown, the famous Falcon served as the official race starter and ambassador of the Bodies in Motion 5K and 10K.

Yes, a lot has changed for Bowman, 26.

The Warrenton native and world class professional runner now lives in sunny San Diego, where she is sponsored by New Balance.

“Much has happened between graduating college and my recent move to California,” said the 2005 FHS graduate who is among the USA's top female milers and a candidate for the 2016 Olympics.

“I feel like I am at a really good place in my life. I got married and then both my husband and I finished our master’s degrees. My husband Darren is also my coach and we have a great relationship both on and off the track. He is also a runner so I always have a companion to train with. We moved to California in January for my husband’s new job with ElliptiGO (a workout equipment company). I feel like things have started to calm down for us now and things are settling.”

Brown returned home to promote a charity event hosted by the Blue Ridge Orthopedic Foundation, which has helped the Fauquier Free Clinic, Fauquier Family Shelter, and the Boys and Girls club.

Word of Bowman's presence — which included a prominent billboard entering town from Gainesville — helped contribute to a record 400-plus participants in Sunday's race, which began at the Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility (WARF).

Brown was certainly a focal point and appeared to relish catching up with and meeting so many of Fauquier’s citizens. She smiled the whole time as she shook hands with people and hugged many who came up to talk with her.

“It feels great to be back in Fauquier!” said Brown. “I am honored to have been asked to come be a representative of this race and help the community. It is a place I love and a place where so many of the people I love still live. I was born right around the corner at Fauquier Hospital and was raised in the county my whole life. It’s great to come back and help out.”

As the official starter of the event, she waited patiently to run segments of the race herself. Hundreds took off shortly after she gave the commands “Ready, Go!”

The start was a bit chaotic as large races always are. The fastest runners took off first, followed by a variety participating with baby strollers, dogs, and young children.

Wesley Brooks of Warrenton ran pushing a stroller with his young daughter nestled safely inside. “This was my first race of many with her. She was great!” said Brooks. “I had a blast running with my running buddy. It was a great race and a nice day to do it.”

One thing about the 8:15 a..m. run is that it was a bit chilly. Brown smiled as she took off her warmup sweats, remarking to those around her of the cold winds, and started to stride forward after the runners had disappeared around the corner of the street.

It took 19 minutes and 37 seconds for the first runner, Fauquier High's Henry Delavergne, to cross the 5K finish line.

As more runners began to come in, Brown would venture back and lead them to the finish, offering encouragement. They crossed the line together and shook hands.

Once Brown reached the line she would take a sip of water and then run back out, high-fiving the runners she passed on the way.

Brown ranks as arguably the greatest and most famous female athlete in FHS history. She won 15 individual state titles in her four years as a Falcon and helped her school win the 2005 state girls team track title. In 2005 she set national high school records for the 1000 meters, recording the fastest indoor mile by a high school girl.

Heavily recruited, Tennessee snapped up the highly touted prospect. As a Volunteer from 2005-2009, she earned all-American honors 10 times. In 2009 she took the NCAA title indoors in the mile and was part of several NCAA-, American- and world-record setting relays.

Besides being part of 12 Southeastern Conference titles, which ties for the most in school history, Bowman was named the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Brown's pro career is still peaking. She finished eighth in the 2008 Olympic trials for the 1500 meters and sixth in the 2012 trials.

“I am recently coming back from a stress injury in my foot but I am back to training full time and focusing on USATF nationals in June,” said Brown.

“From there I plan to do a summer race circuit at various locations around the world. Ultimately my long term focus is on the world team in 2015 and the Olympics in 2016. I would love to represent Warrenton and Tennessee on the world stage,” she said.

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