Meet Our Owner + Chief Inspiration Officer, Sarah Ratzlaff
Hey there! It’s so nice to meet you and thanks for dropping by and checking out ZOOMA Women’s Race Series! (That’s me in the pic above with my bestie who I coerced into running my first ZOOMA race in Cape Cod.)
I’m not usually one for the spotlight so this post makes me a little nervous.
As an introvert by nature and someone who adores event and race planning, I prefer to spend my time in the background making schedules and plans and timelines or high fiving you at the finish line!
But my team tells me over and over that it’s time for me to get out of the shadows and start showing my face. So here I am and here’s a little bit about me.
I’ve been an athlete the majority of my life starting in 3rd grade when I volunteered to play basketball on the YMCA league. I was a bit of an awkward kid but I fell in love with sports and went on to play volleyball, basketball, and track.
In college, at the University of Kansas, I was introduced to the spectacular sport of rugby (and the super fun social atmosphere that went with it). The rugby team was where I first really understood the power of a tribe of women - we were a family and a team who always had each other’s backs.
I was a pretty decent athlete, however, I was never that amazing athlete always performing at the elite level. Mostly, I loved being a part of a team and found that I liked organizing tournaments and trips and leading my sports teams as much, if not more, than I liked playing the sport.
And then one day I realized I could actually make a career of my passion for events and bringing people together through sports. So I started my Master’s Degree in Sports Administration (while also working full-time) and in 2005 I moved to Orlando and took an internship with the Endurance Sports Team (later to become the runDisney team) at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.
After my internship I was hired full-time at Disney and we had a fast and furious ride over the next 10 years. This was at the beginning of the second running boom and we had so much fun planning and putting on races like the Tower of Terror 13K, Expedition Everest Challenge, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and the Minnie Marathon Weekend. I was even asked to be a part of the team who created and executed the first Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend and all of the rest of the events that followed at the Disneyland Resort.
And then we just sort of blew up and runDisney was born. The runDisney you know and love with all of the race challenges and themed runs like Princess Half Marathon, Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Star Wars Half Marathon, and the beloved Dopey Challenge.
Though I loved planning the events, my favorite was always race day. I loved two parts of race day. I loved the crazy early mornings (around 1 AM) in the parking lots before any runners showed up and then I loved the finish line. What we had created at runDisney was so special and I saw it on every single face that crossed the finish line. There was rarely a dry eye among our team as we cheered in the final finisher of every race.
But then, I became a mom. First came my beautiful baby girl and only two years later a sweet baby boy. And I knew it was time for me to start a new adventure. They needed more of my time and I needed more flexibility to be with them and, honestly, I was looking for a new challenge.
And that’s when ZOOMA entered the picture. I met the founder of ZOOMA, Brae Blackley, while I was at Disney. After 10 years with ZOOMA, she was ready for her next adventure and so she passed the baton along to me.
Over the past four years, ZOOMA has grown immensely with new race destinations like Bermuda, online fitness challenges like our Holiday Challenge and, most recently, the ZOOMA Run Club. The community that we’ve created at ZOOMA has started to feel like my rugby team - a tribe, a family, a group of women who can talk about anything and always have each other’s backs.
I feel so lucky to wake up every day and have the opportunity to create new and exciting adventures for women in our community. And I’m so thankful for women like you who choose to be a part of ZOOMA - women who are willing share their experiences and cheer each other on.
So before I go, I wanted to share just a few more fun facts about me before I go…
I grew up on a very, very small farm in Kansas. We raised wheat, alfalfa and the occasional livestock.
I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I grew up but was told I was much too big for that.
I was the homecoming queen and a band nerd who played the E Flat Contrabass Clarinet (google that bad boy and see what comes up)
I have a younger brother whom I adore but we still fight every time we see each other.
My parents are happy and healthy and live near me in the suburbs of Orlando.
My first half marathon was the 2007 Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon.
My favorite half marathon was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Franciso.
My favorite post-race food is a cheeseburger (preferably with bacon) and fries.
I’m a back of the pack runner and have cried at every half marathon I ran.
I own the tiniest dog in the world, a 3.5 pound yorkshire terrier named Miles.
Can’t wait to see you at a finish line soon…
Sarah Ratzlaff, Owner + Chief Inspiration Officer of ZOOMA Women’s Race Series