Michael Petersen is an 800-meter runner from Toronto. The 25-year-old first got into track and field back in elementary school. It was love at first sprint—but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
Petersen ran through high school, and in Grade 12, qualified for World Juniors in the 800m after running a personal best of 1:48. That’s what locked him into the incredibly painful 800m distance, but he loves it. “Ever since then I’ve had the confidence to keep running and keep going for it,” he says.
For Petersen, though, running has never been just about the numbers on a stopwatch—it’s always been about the people. “I do enjoy competing and going to the highest level, but for me, it’s really the people and the connections I’ve made and the places that it’s allowed me to go,” he says. “I love meeting people who have a similar mindset, that are all from different places.”
When he first started college, it was as a new recruit to the NCAA Division I school Fordham University in New York City. “I attended the school for one year, and it just wasn’t a great fit for me,” he reflects. “I experienced a bit of an abusive culture, and the coaching staff wasn’t very supportive. And it’s a very segregated track team, which was very different from my experience at Western, where the men’s and women’s teams work together, sprinters and jumpers live together—that’s what I was looking for in a track team.”
He transferred to Western and never looked back—just ahead.
“To me, “run your way” means do what you love. For me, it’s always been track. I’ve always enjoyed competing. I’ve enjoyed traveling. Being part of the new Canadian Track and Field League, which was started last year, has been a great way for me to meet people of different ages at different stages of our athletic journeys.”
In fact, the League has been an even better experience than university running, because it’s allowed Petersen to deepen friendships with his competitors. And if he still has a few secret rivalries in the back of his mind, well, those just make racing more fun.