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The 700 Club

Finding God in the Moment

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Author, Run the Mile You’re In, Zondervan 2019

Holds the American record for fastest half marathon (59:43) and fastest marathon (2:04:58)

Represented the US in 2008 and 2012 Olympics in the marathon

Attended Stanford University

Retired from running

Coach and speaker

Wife: Sara

4 adopted daughters from Ethiopia

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RUN AROUND BIG BEAR LAKE
Ryan grew up in southern California.  His dad was a former drafted major league baseball player and Ryan spent hours with his dad tirelessly throwing a baseball, attempting to follow in his dad’s footsteps.  When he was 13 years old, Ryan says that God gave him an aspiration to run around Big Bear Lake, a bright blue lake in the high mountains of SoCal. Running around the lake is challenging and it’s 15 miles around.  The lake is also at 7,000 feet altitude which makes it difficult to breathe.  “The vision came to me as a surprise because I’d had zero interest in the sport of running,” says Ryan.  The only running he had done was short sprints on the basketball court, football field or baseball diamond.  “I felt a strong pull in my heart,” says Ryan.  That following Saturday, Ryan laced up his high-top basketball shoes and headed out the door for what turned out to be a long and painful run.  In his exhaustion, Ryan says he connected with God easier.  “I felt God speak to the depths of my heart for the first time in my life,” he says.  “God unleashed His purpose for the next season of my life and that I would one day run with the best runners in the world.  He also said I would be given the gift of helping others through my running.”

Ryan focused on running in high school and into college. He met Sara as a senior in high school. They both attended Stanford and dated through college.  They got engaged after graduation and married 3 months later!  “I never would have made it to the level in running that I did if I didn’t use my successes, which were few and far between, to propel me through the valleys that lay between,” says Ryan.  During college years, Ryan's team won the 2003 and 2005 Cross Country Championships and the NCAA Division 1 national title in the 5,000 meters.  In 2007, Ryan qualified for the Beijing Olympics with a record time of 2:09:32.  “Was so special about that race wasn’t the performance,” says Ryan. “It was, instead, the connection I felt with God during the race.”  Ryan says when he hears from God while he is running, he customarily spends additional time with the Lord afterwards with a Bible and notepad as he reads the Word.   He finished 10th in his first Olympic experience.  In 2011, Ryan qualified for his second Olympic team.  He retired from running in 2015.

ADOPTING
Growing up, Ryan never thought about adoption  On their first date, Sara told Ryan when she was little, she drew a picture of herself with adopted kids.  They both had been to Ethiopia a number of times and spent months training in the thin air at 9,000 feet.  “We had fallen in love with the country, people and culture,” says Ryan.  In 2015, they started the adoption process and originally through they would adopt children under the age of 2.  Soon they found out about 4 sisters who had been waiting for a family for more than 3 years.  “We had spoken to many families who adopted older kids from Ethiopia, and they had walked a very hard road,” says Ryan.  The kids come out of traumatic situations and it is difficult to connect emotionally.  “Adoption is basically signing your name on a blank contract not knowing what you will face but deciding that you will be loving and taking care of these kids for the rest of your life,” he says. Instead of operating by fear, Ryan and Sara tried to make decisions motivated by love.  “I’m in the middle of 5 kids and can’t imagine being separated from any of my siblings,” he says.  Sara and Ryan decided to adopt the 4 girls. 

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