In fifth-grade gym class, when Meghan (Armstrong) Peyton ’14 MAL completed the Presidential Physical Fitness test along with her classmates, she came in first in the required mile event, beating all the boys. When her teacher asked if she had ever considered doing cross-country running, she said she had not, but it got her thinking. In seventh grade she joined her first cross-country team.
She continued running throughout high school, where she turned in four All-State performances in cross-country and seven All-State performances in track and field. She is the only Oregonian to have won state titles as a high school prep athlete in the 1,500-meter and the 3,000-meter events for three consecutive years. As a college student at the University of Iowa, she was a four-time NCAA Division I All-American and two-time Big Ten Champion. She still holds the school record for the 1,500-meter run (4:17:41).
Though she says it took a few years to move beyond the joy of competition and actually fall in love with the sport, she is now busy making a career of it.
In 2008 she joined Team USA Minnesota, a post-collegiate distance training center that encourages holistic development—that is, in both running and outside interests. This allows her to run professionally while developing strong roots for her future by getting experience as an assistant coach at Augsburg, continuing her education, and working a few hours a week at a pet hospital.
Through Team USA Minnesota, Peyton has competed in numerous running events, representing the U.S. at international events, such as Chiba Ekiden in Japan, and Edinburgh International Cross Country Challenge in Scotland, and even earning a spot to compete in the 2012 USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon.
In 2013, she won the U.S. 20K Championship, which she says was “amazing.” Also, it got her one step closer to achieving her goal of competing in the 2016 Olympics, as well as qualifying to race at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
Peyton has a “trickle-down” theory about encouraging “elite runners” to participate in a variety of marathons (not just elite races). Doing so would inspire sub-elite runners to attain even higher levels of excellence, enrich participation by attracting additional runners who may not otherwise participate, and enhance interest in the sport among participants and spectators alike.
In addition to earning her MA in Leadership at Augsburg, Peyton has been serving as the College’s head men’s and women’s cross country coach and assistant track coach. Augsburg, she says, has opened her eyes in many ways. Before coming to Augsburg, her running pursuits tended to be done primarily for herself, whereas her Augsburg experience has shown her the joy of serving others and becoming a more thoughtful steward and responsible leader. She wants to continue to make a difference in the lives of future Auggie alumni.
Recently, Peyton’s mother in Tennessee challenged herself to a consistent exercise plan, beginning with 15-20 minutes of walking each day. Peyton called her daily to support her, sometimes pushing back at comments like, “No, I didn’t run today; it was raining.” Eventually, however, the answers were, “Yes, and I made it further today,” and she was running three hours at a time. Within the year and a few months shy of her 50th birthday, she was training for the Knoxville Marathon, and just last November, completed the New York City Marathon, a race that Peyton is determined to run someday as well.
Peyton and her high school sweetheart, Cole Peyton, were married in 2010 and live in Richfield with their pets. In addition to running, they enjoy reading, golf, scuba diving, and world travel. You can “track” her successes and find her personal best records at www.meghanpeyton.com.
— Cheryl Crockett