Kim Johnson - Big Inspiration for those running the Big Cottonwood Marathon and Half

By Kim Johnson

Published 09/10 2013 07:59PM

Updated 09/10 2013 08:03PM

Why again, do you like running 26.2 miles? I get that question all the time, as I’m sure every marathoner does. The reasons are as diverse as the runners who give them.

This weekend thousands of people from all different backgrounds will be pounding the pavement for all for kinds of reasons in the Big Cottonwood Marathon and Half. In just its second year, the race has grown from 1,000 to 4,000 participants, with 25 percent coming from outside of Utah, and seven countries represented.

That growth is huge. I’m guessing it has something to do with the spectacularly beautiful course, fall colors, oh yeah and it’s pretty much all downhill.

But, when you talk to a lot of marathoners… the course rarely has anything to do with why they’re running. The reasons often times are deeply personal. This week, I got to meet two courageous Utah women who are overcoming a lot to run this race.

There’s Lisa Calderwood (pictured), a mom from Midway, who was diagnosed with stage 3 brain cancer last year. She has completed a couple half marathons since undergoing surgery, radiation and chemo. This will be her first full marathon. She says it’s an item on her bucket list. Prognosis is 2 to 5 years and she is determined not to let anything stop her from reaching her goal.

Then there’s Teota Coppock, from Salt Lake. Her son, Sgt. Brandon Parr, was killed in Iraq in 2007. She tells me she immediately fell into depression and couldn’t get out of bed. She gained 60 pounds and lost her will to be healthy. It was through the support of a friend she decided to run the Marine Corps marathon in honor of Brandon. She lost 93 pounds and has since completed 22 marathons! Teota says, “I will never be able to fix what has been lost, but running has given me my life back.”

These two women will now be my personal inspiration. When I’m out there on mile 15 of a 20 mile training run, I will think of them. In fact, these examples of bravery and perseverance are the reason why I’m part of this running community. It’s contagious. It reminds you of what’s important and going on long runs on a Saturday morning, gives you plenty of time to reflect on it all.

I’m so honored to be the emcee for this weekend’s Big Cottonwood Marathon and Half. I can’t wait to cheer on these ladies and everyone else. But, I know they’ll get themselves to the finish line… well on their own.

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