For LDS marathon runner Wendy Garrett, being able to walk a mile is a miracle, let alone run 26.2. And now, Garrett is preparing to make history as she gears up to run her sixth World Marathon Major.
In 2010, Garrett suffered an accident that rendered her left leg useless and left her with several neck and back injuries. It wasn't until three years later and a visit to her 25th doctor that she was finally diagnosed with a spinal cord injury and fitted with an orthotic that provided enough support to allow Garrett to begin walking—and eventually running—on her own.
"I started running, and haven't looked back," Garrett says.
Wendy Garrett at the Dublin Marathon, courtesy of Wendy Garrett.
Just a year after her diagnosis, Garrett ran in her first Boston Marathon, running in memory of her sister who passed away just months before. "I was broken; I didn't think I could do it. . . . [But] running ended up helping me through the grieving process," she says.
Now, she's set out to finish the six World Champion Marathons. Having already completed the Boston, New York City, Chicago, Berlin, and London marathons, Garrett traveled to Tokyo earlier this month to check off the last race on her list. Finishing that race would make Garrett the first person in the world to complete the six World Marathon Majors on foot with a spinal cord injury.
"What an amazing journey it has been with many miracles along the way," Garrett says of her journey. Despite the loss, grief, and depression she has waded through to achieve her goal, she recognizes how God has transformed her life through running.
"God's plan is so much better than ours. If I'd had my way I would have been completely healed and would be living a 'normal' life," Garrett testifies. "God's plan for me was this journey I've been on."
Despite the pain and years of rehabilitation, Garrett recognizes the way her disability has transformed her life. "Because of my disability, my life has actually been more exciting than I could have ever imagined," she says. "It's allowed me to travel the world, meet amazing and inspiring people, and to be able to share my story and my testimony on a local, national, and international level."
Wendy Garrett at the Berlin Marathon, courtesy of Wendy Garrett.
Garrett knows running in the Tokyo Marathon this weekend won't mark the end of her journey or story. Her next goals are to try to compete in the Paralympics, to complete a marathon on every continent, and to run as many Boston Marathons as she can.
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Garrett's message to those now struggling with their own challenges is to "hang on. Trust in God's plan for you. There are no accidents. He knows you, loves you, and has wonderful things in store for you."
Looking back at her life, Garrett recognizes, "Our Heavenly Father is capable of miracles, so had it been His will He could have helped me sooner. But for some reason I needed those three years to learn, grow, and be tested. Those three years also make me appreciate every mile I run for the miracle that they are. . . . To go from being told, 'Let's just give walking a try first' to five years later heading to the Tokyo Marathon to accomplish a global goal is a miracle only capable of a loving Heavenly Father."