Sally Meyerhoff's legacy as elite runner will be long remembered

Sally Meyerhoff's legacy as elite runner will be long remembered


Sally Meyerhoff's legacy as elite runner will be long remembered


David Klecka had a shirt on that honored the late Sally Meyerhoff when he was unexpectedly reached by a reporter recently.

Although Meyerhoff died last year, she left a lasting impression that won’t soon be forgotten. Klecka coached Meyerhoff at Phoenix Mountain Pointe, where Meyerhoff began to flourish as an elite runner.

But it was her insightfulness along with her zeal for running that made her a running threat and a person many cared for. The 2012 Hall of Fame inductee died last year during an accident while training.

“Sally had a one-in-a-million personality and work ethic,” Klecka said. “She was a student athlete, and she cared about people.”

Word of Meyerhoff’s talent got to Klecka even before she started attending high school at Tempe Marcos de Niza. She transferred to Mountain Pointe as a sophomore.

As soon as she started running in sixth grade, Meyerhoff’s victories and hair instantly became fixtures in the running community. Her desire to run burned just as bright as her recognizable red hair.

Even at a young age, the independent spirit of a runner was present. When she was 2, Meyerhoff believed her 10-day-old brother, Daniel, needed some attention, so she carried him from Daniel’s room to the arms of her startled mom, who was on the phone in another room.

When she was 12, Meyerhoff left her house unannounced to fill up water bottles at a local market because her family was running out of water.

“Sally always took charge,” said Meyerhoff’s mom, Cindi.

Meyerhoff also took charge on the track and road courses.

She won nine individual track and cross country state titles and helped Mountain Pointe secure a team cross country title in 2001 before graduating in 2002 and becoming an All-American at Duke University.

The analytical side of Meyerhoff forced her to critique her every move as a runner. That studious approach also helped her become an overachiever in the classroom in high school and college.

When she wanted, Meyerhoff also wasn’t afraid to let red hair down in front of friends and family. She did so one time in a dance contest at a bar in Cancun, Mexico, jumping on to a bar with her younger sister, Samantha. Ever the competitor, Meyerhoff took home a prize.

Since she was a youngster, Meyerhoff also had a passion for baking and wanted to open a bakery along with her mom.

But Meyerhoff’s true self emerged when she was around friends and family. The eldest of three children, there was also a motherly quality about Meyerhoff.

“Sally was such a wonderful daughter,” Cindi said. “I can’t explain what I lost. She was my everything in my life. I did everything with her, and we talked constantly. She loved older people and gravitated toward more mature people. She took care of me, and I took care of her.”

Cindi and her family and the Valley’s close-knit running community lost Meyerhoff when she was only 28.

She was on her bicycle, training in Maricopa, when she was struck by a vehicle last year in March. In a show of unity and remembrance for a great person and runner, more than 1,000 runners participated in the first Sally Meyerhoff 5K in 2011. The second was held earlier this month.

Cindi is planning to organize the race annually and give the proceeds to various running clubs and schools to continue the legacy of one of Arizona’s brightest running stars.


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