WHSV Sports Presents: Going the Distance

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — He ran at Bridgewater College, studied at James Madison University and has started a family in Harrisonburg. Local runner Stanley Peyton Jr. calls the Shenandoah Valley his home.

Running isn't new for him, but representing his country doing it is.

"I never thought that I would actually be wearing a Team USA jersey," Peyton said.

On Friday, Stanley ran 400 and 800 meter races for Team USA at the World Masters Athletics Championship in Toronto.

He placed first in both.

"Watching some of those athletes and competing against some of those athletes at intercollegiate meets while I was in school was just phenomenal, so to be able to represent our country on an international level is just crazy," he said.

While Stanley has enjoyed plenty of success running, it's not the success that's drawn him to the sport.

"I began running in 7th grade. I was a sprinter and a hurdler back then," he told us.

Stanley quickly became a distance runner.

"Running the 800 led me to Bridgewater College and of course, the rest is history."

His impressive four years at Bridgewater led to more than a decade in the Shenandoah Valley.

"I've developed a ton of relationships here. Friends and obviously growing my family, which is most important, but just some of the friendly relationships that I've developed with VA momentum. Those guys meeting me from just running their local races and to now being some of my core group of friends. The valley has just been awesome."

Stanley credits his will to keep running to his family and community, especially in tough times.

"My first race this year was the 400. I stepped on the inside line and I got disqualified, so I was really down on myself, but then the encouraging messages started pouring in from everybody. Everybody was like, 'Dude, we're proud that you're on the stage and able to compete. So keep doing what you're doing, you're never gonna fail us,' and so that propelled me to win the 800 and 1500."

His next goal? Qualifying for next year's Olympic trials.

"I've got quite a bit of work to do. Fingers crossed, but you know you can only prepare so much."

Looking forward, Stanley hopes to keep running competitively for many years.

"Even if I don't qualify for the trials, that's something to reach for as a lifelong fitness goal."

Off the track, Stanley has been a guest speaker at Wilson Memorial High School.

He takes as much pride in that as he does his races.

"You know having them reach out to me and walk up to me at random stores and say 'Hey dude, keep it up, you know we hope that you make it and we hope that you reach your goal.'"

And most of all, Stanley says anyone can run.

"Regardless of your fitness level, whether you run ten-minute mile pace or four-minute mile pace, just get out there, there's always somebody that you can reach out to that is willing to run your pace."