2015 Inspirational Stories

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My name is Rachael Petersen. I proudly wore bib #235. After having 5 kids, I wanted to try something 

different than I had ever done in the past to lose weight and get in shape so I

could play with them without wearing out. I started running in August 2011 with the intent on one day running a 5k. Before long, I could easily run 3 miles, so I upped my personal goal to a 10k. Again, I hit 6 miles before realizing it so I decided to go for a half. 11 months after I started running, I ran my first half. It was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had and promised myself it would not be the last.

Sadly, life circumstances got in the way. The next summer was too hard to train for that kind of distance with a long-distance move and a period of "homelessness" as the short-sale house we were buying proved to be anything but "short."

Then, on September 5, 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I found myself drowning in drs appointment, surgeries, and treatments. Worst of all, my love of running had to be put on hold as my weakened body could hardly get from one end of the house to the other, let alone run that distance. 

January 2014 brought the end of chemo, but I was only allowed a few months recovery before the reconstruction surgeries began. I started running again in March of that year, but progress was extremely slow. The side effects of chemo last long after the treatments are over. It seemed like every time I was finally making progress with time and distance, it was time for another surgery.

I made it a goal to run a half in 2015, no matter how long it would take me. I knew it would be pushing it to be ready for the Teton half, but as my plans for the rest of the summer stretched before me (as well as planning my FINA

L surgery) the timing couldn't be better. I was extremely intimidated by the course. This was unlike any UT race I had ever seen, but I knew finishing it would be that much sweeter!!

Training was going well, despite being slow. And then I got a slight injury. The last 8 weeks before the race was a careful balance of running enough to keep me able, but not so much to make me incapable of finishing.

The course did not disappoint. My knee was killing me at the summit of Summer's hill. The next mile was very difficult physically and my spirits were beginning to shrink. At top of the last big hill, my sweet friend was waiting for me with a big sign. She ran with me for the next two miles and I no longer felt the pain. The last two miles of the race, I felt like I was flying- physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I was so close! And the down-hill was a much needed break for my pain.  As I rounded the corner with the finish line in sight, I found strength beyond my own. I sailed across the finish. I couldn't keep back the tears as they hung the medal around my neck. I was 42 minutes slower than my first, but felt more VICTORIOUS than ever before. I could not think of a better way to symbolize my life moving forward. Thanks for the experience!


Dear Tom and Whitney, 

You may remember that just prior to your 2015 Teton Dam Marathon you graciously offered me a deferment of my 2015 entry to the 2016 race (see the following thread for all the details).  You advised me at that time to contact you when the registration opens in order to get the coupon code to finalize the switch.

I cannot thank you enough for your understanding of my situation and for your kind offer for the race deferment.  My wife and I look forward to visiting your area this coming June.

My mother continues her battle with her inoperable brain tumor, and we cherish every day that we have her with us.  I will be running in her honor in Rexburg while continuing my initiative called "Running4" to raise awareness and funds for cancer research through our affiliation with the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you!


Steve Sodergren (Steve is registered to race in 2016 so keep your eye out for the end to his amazing story)