WASHINGTON — Standing in front of her 15 medals from previous Marine Corps Marathons, each neatly spread across a table, BethAnn Telford began to place each one around her neck. It’s something she’s never done before, but it was a moment that took her back in time. As she picked up her second medal from 2005, she paused in silence.
This one was special.
“It wasn’t great bling at the time, but to me, that’s my gold medal,” said Telford.
That’s because the year before, Telford fought for her life.
While running the Marine Corps Marathon in 2004, Telford first noticed something wasn’t right at mile 19 near Hains Point.
“I felt a pop in my head, almost like I was in an airplane and I had to clear my nose or my head,” said Telford. “I started to act like I was drunk and my gait was off. I finished the race — the last seven miles — a little slower.”
“There was something wrong,” said Telford.
Telford’s doctors told her she had brain cancer. The lifelong athlete full of fight was put to the ultimate test: a battle for her life.
Soon after, Telford underwent surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“I had to learn to run, walk and talk again, and deal with skills that were taken away,” Telford said. “But I was determined.”
Telford returned to her hometown in Pennsylvania to recover. A few months later, she decided to participate in a 5K in her community. Her father followed her along the course and toward the finish line, cheering her on.
“I started to hear him yell like when I was in high school or the hockey field, ‘Beth run! Run Beth!’ and then I knew I was going to be okay,” Telford said. “I ran and finished that 5K.”
She hasn’t looked back since.
“I thought if I can finish this 5K, I know that I can lace up in October right after my brain surgery and make sure that I get into the Marine Corps Marathon where this all started,” said Telford. “It wasn’t going to be fast, but I was determined that course wasn’t going to get me.”
She ran in the Marine Corps Marathon again in 2005, and has run it every year since then.
Now, years later, she’s getting ready for her 16th Marine Corps Marathon, and has been on a mission to be a voice for children battling brain cancer. Telford has raised more than $1 million and works closely with the organization Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, or ABC2.
Telford wears something special on the course every year as a reminder of the children she helps. This year, she’s wearing a pair of running shoes designed by children from ABC2.
Thinking of her own fight, Telford said her mission is to remind runners and children alike to never give up hope.
“I stop at that post and just feel how lucky I am because brain cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, especially for children, and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing,” said Telford.
Despite her drive, athleticism and many accomplishments, Telford said it’s the children that give her purpose.
“Until I’m able to not run this anymore, I’m going to continue to run the Marine Corps Marathon,” Telford said.