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12/4/13 - In Memory of Peyton Reikhof

by Grace Kneer

In the year 2000, you could find two inseparable little girls at New Hope Presbyterian Church. These two girls did everything together from Sunday school to gymnastics, and they adored every second of it. Since age five, Peyton and I were lifelong friends.

Grace hitting her stride after mile 20 Grace hitting her stride after mile 20.

Peyton was a tall, beautiful, blonde girl with blue eyes that would captivate anyone who looked at her. She was openly obsessed with Harry Potter and was intrigued by math so much so that she read a book on math simply for fun. Peyton was so intelligent and always inspired me to work to be successful in school. Softball was always her thing. We played recreational softball together while our dads coached, but her talent just took off. She played all the way until senior year of high school and was a star. Besides this, Peyton was the most social and friendly girl. Everyone knew who she was because of the smile she kept on her face all the time. Her hugs were unparalleled. We went to different high schools, but when we saw each other it was like no time had passed.

Boston qualifying time Boston qualifying time!
Behind those masks, Peyton was very sad and suffering from an overpowering and unforgiving disease: depression. This disease has a stigma, which makes some disbelieve the severity. For me, this stigma was shattered the day I lost a Peyton, we lost Peyton. Peyton had taken her own life.

I have always been very determined and running was a great outlet for me whether I was releasing stress, sadness, or honing in on the pure joy running brings me. I decided to run a marathon in the spring. On July 21 I knew why God had me running this marathon. I dedicated not only my marathon but also every practice to my lovely Peyton.

The night before the race I was so excited, not a single part of me was anxious. I knew I was well prepared. I thought, this is where I would see Peyton work through me.

Celebrating a Monumental accomplishment Celebrating a Monumental accomplishment.
The morning of the race, I woke up as ready as ever and made my way downtown with my supportive parents. As the race began I became even more excited thinking: today is the day I will run 26.2 miles. I knew, in order to accomplish my far-reaching goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I would have to keep up with the 3:35 pacer. This became not only attainable, but easy. I didn't know what had gotten in to me, I had not run one of my training runs at this pace, but today it was easy. I could feel Peyton there with her tenacity pushing me to finish with a time of 3:31.05. It happened! My angel worked through me and I was close with Peyton once again.

I am planning on running two half marathons this spring, both in honor of Peyton Reikhof. I run my best when I run with her. I hope to run another marathon when the time is right. All of my future races will be in honor of her, and some will be fundraisers to raise money for The American Suicide Prevention Foundation.

Grace Kneer
2013 Monumental Marathon Finisher