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ST. GEORGE — It's a race that took seven years to complete. Wendee Valentine started the Saint George Marathon years ago but couldn't finish. Saturday, she joined thousands of runners in Southern Utah in hopes of crossing the finish line.
Valentine of Kaysville is an avid runner. She's completed eight marathons. However, her last race wasn't so easy when life threw her a curve ball and kept her from doing what she loved.
"I ran it seven 1/12 months pregnant and I only made it about halfway through," Valentine said. "(The baby) decided he was done running so I got on the bus and I was devastated that I didn't get to finish."
She promised herself that she would one day finish. A few years later she was selected in the lottery.
"I started training and started having some serious headaches," Valentine said.
The headaches persisted for weeks. She went to the doctor for an MRI and they found something awful.
"I have had an aneurysm sitting on the carotid artery right behind my left eye and it needed to be operated on soon," she said.
Doctors performed surgery for eight hours and spent five days in the hospital. She had nerve damage and her recovery was tough.
"I spent a year struggling with headaches and trying not to get addicted to pain killers and being a mom," Valentine said.
But things turned around. Doctors treated her for the nerve pain and soon she was ready to race again.
"I was 40 years old, I had 4 kids, I had a brain surgery and I thought, ‘I am going to beat that marathon and prove it to myself that I can still do this," she said.
Wendee finished the race in 5 hours 12 mins and 39 seconds with her husband Jared and children cheering her on.
"To just put her whole self into it… it brings a lot of inspiration to me," se said.