As the founder and editor of Utah Valley Magazine, Jeanette Bennett may know Utah Valley better than anyone else. And that’s only one of the reasons she loves the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer.
If you’ve lived in Utah Valley, you almost certainly know about and read Utah Valley Magazine, which Jeanette Bennett and her husband launched back in 2000, and describe as a publication “for people who love the valley.”
What you may not know, however, is that Jeanette and her small staff — in addition to Utah Valley Magazine, also publish Utah Valley Business Quarterly, and Utah Valley Bride magazines, along with the daily UtahValley360.com site and several custom publications.
And she’s a mom of four young children.
With everything on her plate, you could well wonder how Jeanette is able to find time to be a runner. But she does find time, and it’s important. In fact, she is able to find time to run the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer each year…during which she’s had some extraordinary moments that have to be heard to be believed. Listen to our conversation with Jeanette on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or right here:
Like many of us, Jeanette didn’t really see herself as an “athlete” — certainly not as a runner — when she was growing up. “I was interested in journalism; I wasn't really an athlete other than playing on my church teams and enjoying watching sports. It wasn't my passion and I didn't really even think I had the proficiency for it.”
So what changed? Jeanette says, “I graduated from college, got married, and had a family. I had my fourth child, I was thirty, and I just started feeling like — for physical and mental reasons — I needed to spend a little time outside, alone, and to get my body moving, get my blood pumping.”
And for Jeanette, that meant running, which brought some much-needed time to think. “I put on some shoes,” she says, “and I started walking — then running — always by myself. And at that time, I never listened to anything. I just wanted to hear the silence and hear my thoughts.”
“It was important,” she emphasizes. “It was valuable.” And perhaps critically, it was one thing she was doing just for herself. “I didn't even really tell friends or anything,” Jeanette says, “because I didn't want them to think I was thinking I was a ‘runner.’ I was just doing it for a mental benefits.”
Running For Grandma Lola
It wasn’t too long before Jeanette noticed the changes that a regular running schedule brings, and she signed up for a 5K. She ran the whole thing, felt great, and found herself hungry for more. She found herself running more 5Ks, the Ragnar Relay…and eventually, signing up for the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer — the 5K version at first, and then working her way up to the half marathon.
And when Jeanette picked up her race packet, she found herself facing a question. “There was a sticker that I could put on that said I could run for someone who had had cancer,” Jeanette says. “I hadn't really thought about that until I was sitting there, but my Grandma, Lola Dawn Reeve, she died of cancer when I was 10. That just seemed obvious and cool to be able to run with her name on my back.”
Jeanette continues, “I loved coming down the Canyon and doing the whole race and seeing all the supportive signs. I got choked up several times that morning, just thinking about the people who are running alongside me and the beautiful signs and stories posted along the way.”
And in the beautiful AF Canyon, supportive people and signs all around her, with her grandma’s name on her back, Jeanette had a remarkable experience. “I'm going to think about my grandma and everything I can remember about her,” Jeanette thought.
“I knew she was an English major, and I'm a journalism major,” Jeanette thought. “and she sang and played the piano; I play the piano and organ and I enjoy singing. I thought about her family and how she had started with four kids, two girls, two boys.”
“We’re a lot alike,” Jeanette thought.
As she continued to dwell on her grandma, Jeanette thought more about her grandma Lola’s children. “She had a large gap and a little girl, my favorite aunt Mary. I thought about that and my family. I had two girls, and two boys at the time.”
“Then I had this really cool experience,” Jeanette explains, “where I felt like she was with me and expressed that I would still have my ‘Mary,’ who was her youngest daughter.
“I thought about that the rest of the race,” continues Jeanette. “Okay. I have a little girl left.”
“And when I got home, my daughter said she had had a dream that morning that for either her birthday or Christmas, she had a gift of a baby sister. I asked her to tell me everything about the dream. And I ended up being due — with a baby girl — on that daughter's birthday the next year.”
“And I named that baby Lola,” concludes Jeanette, “after my grandma.”
A Utah Valley Race
Jeanette is the editor-in-chief of Utah Valley Magazine, and as part of her job, talks with people about their lives in Utah Valley all the time. As such, she has a great sense of how the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer fits into this community.
“There's so much heart. There's so much purpose,” Jeanette says, describing both the people of Utah Valley and the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer. “And this particular race has so much heart and just ties into what Utah Valley is all about. You learn a little bit more about cancer. You learned more about what people are dealing with. And it's inspiring.”
“Utah County people love to read a story about overcoming challenges, and that's what this race is so full of,” says Jeanette. “And, we're supporting a local cancer research and treatment facility.”
“That feels right,” Jeanette concludes. “That feels good.”