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April 16, 2015

Olympian Sarah Attar Joins Oiselle - and Tells Her Story

Sarah Attar here. Words cannot quite capture my excitement, but I am so honored to join Oiselle and share some of my story here.

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In the London 2012 Olympics I had the opportunity to compete as one of the first females ever for Saudi Arabia, along with Wojdan Shaherkani. Not only was it the first time that Saudi Arabia sent women, but it was also the first time that all countries had women athletes represent them in the Olympics. It is truly incredible to have been part of such a historic event. 

My journey to the Olympics was quite unusual. I never anticipated that I would run in the Olympics. It wasn’t something I was pursuing, but rather the opportunity presented itself to me. I didn’t qualify, but was invited. I received the invitation from the International Olympic Committee only a month and a half before the opening ceremony. I’d be running the 800m, a distance I only raced once or twice in high school, and running for Saudi Arabia, which no other female had done before. Sometimes (most times) it still blows me away and all seems pretty surreal. But it is real, and has brought me on an unexpected beautiful journey, constantly showing me the power of sport and that you never know where the path may take you when you do what you love. My participation is so much bigger than me though. It represents new opportunities, groundbreaking steps forward, and a shift in the status quo. There are now generations of girls in Saudi Arabia that will grow up with the possibility of competing in the Olympics as an option, and that is powerful.

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During my most recent trip to Saudi Arabia, my sister Amira and I were determined to get a run in. We took to the Corniche, an awesome coastal road in Jeddah along the Red Sea. We were fully covered in our abayas and embraced each step on this run. There weren’t many others out running, and definitely no other females running. When you are passionate about something you will find a way to make it work. There is a growing running scene and I’ve had the opportunity to connect with some of these groups.

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I also had the opportunity to speak at my cousins’ all girls’ school in Jeddah. It was to an auditorium of about 700 girls and I was so inspired to see how they look up to me. I felt like a celebrity, they all wanted my autograph and handed me letters and posters they made with some of the most inspiring messages about how they were motivated to participate in sports. When I was speaking to them, I asked them who would like to compete in the Olympics someday, and all of their hands shot up and the room filled with shouts of excitement. This type of enthusiasm doesn’t fade. Experiencing this influence first hand showed me the transformative power of sport, and of my participation.

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Just a month or two after the Olympics I came across a picture on Twitter of me from the race depicted as street art in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This was the coolest thing, and kind of blew me away. The artist goes by the name Shaweesh and I actually had the opportunity to meet him and see the street art in person.

In April of 2014 I graduated from Pepperdine University where I studied Art, Art History, and Multimedia Design, and also ran on the track and cross country team. I love expressing myself creatively, and have often felt that running might be my medium as I explore that intersection of running and art. I’ve always been drawn to the longer distances and have completed 5 marathons, and a 50k trail ultramarathon. I love getting out on the trails and I am so inspired by the incredible places that running takes us. This love of the landscapes is what inspired me to sign up for the Big Sur Marathon, my first, which took place in April of 2012. I kept reading that you’ll want to bring a camera because it’s so stunning, but knew that because of my love for photography, I would be distracted if I could take unlimited pictures. Rather, I carried one of those disposable cameras with only 27 exposures, and took one photo each mile of the race.  This was such a fun and meaningful way for me to document my first marathon and connect with that race. 

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It was on this course during my first marathon that I qualified for Boston and ran in the 2013 Boston Marathon (completing the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge). I finished before the bombings but was deeply affected by what took place. Seeing the community bond together and become stronger through the tragedy though was extremely powerful. I was thankful to return in 2014 and experience the Boston Strong movement and the incredible energy in that race as we took back the finish line. Competing in this event as well as the Olympics less than a year prior really connected me to the sport in a way like never before. Seeing the power of these runs and participating in them first hand really showed me the impact that sports can have in our lives, and the communities it can build.

This will be my third year in a row taking on the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. I love both of these races deeply. I enjoy Boston for the atmosphere, the awesome crowds and support, and Big Sur for the quiet and incredible landscapes. They’re completely different races but equally awesome. I am honored to be featured on one of the Boston Banners that are displayed throughout the city this year! (How cool is that?!)

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I was initially drawn to Oiselle as soon as I tried on my first garment. The fit was incredible and I received many compliments when I wore it to practice. The more I read about the company, the more I felt a deep connection to what they represent. It’s so much more than an apparel company; it’s about the transformative power of sport and what that power can inspire. At Kara Goucher’s Podium Retreat in August 2014, I had the opportunity to experience an incredible weekend full of inspiration and such a positive supportive community. I also got to meet and chat with Sally. There was instant and mutual admiration about the sport and the strides each of us had made to encourage and inspire others. The conversation continued past that sunny day in Napa and I am so thankful it has. Connecting with Oiselle feels like those runs that just flow, when everything feels right and you’re beaming with excitement, smiling ear to ear. I’m honored to be part of such a stellar community and can’t wait to see where we fly.


Will you be in Boston this weekend? We have a challenge for you! Sarah is on Boston Marathon street banners hanging proud throughout the city. Snap a photo with one and you could win! Here's how to enter: 

  1. Find Sarah's banner. Photo below.
  2. Snap a pic.
  3. Share it with @oiselle (Instagram or Twitter) + the hashtag #selfiewsarah.

One lucky runner will win the ultimate Race Day Kit announced Tuesday morning! 

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