Clara Peterson (formally Horowitz) grew up in Berkeley, CA with her mom, dad, 2 sisters (Lily and Penny) and brother (Jack). After achieving early success as a middle-school and high school runner (Clara was a 4 time state champion in high-school and a footlocker national finalist), Clara went on to compete at Duke University. At Duke, Clara became a five time All-American. Her career at Duke began with becoming the Junior National Cross-Country champion when she was a freshman. Her greatest accomplishments while at Duke however were placing 5th at NCAA Cross-Country Nationals, 2nd in the 5k at the NCAA indoor National Championships and finishing off her collegiate career with a 2nd place finish in the 10k at the NCAA outdoor National Championships.
Following her career at Duke, Clara married her college sweetheart, Jeffrey Peterson, who was a 1500 meter runner from her rival school, University of North Carolina. Jeff and Clara moved to Jeff’s hometown, Rumson, NJ where Clara started running professionally for New Balance. In addition to running races all over the country, Clara also began coaching high-school Cross-Country, indoor Track and outdoor Track. Clara began her professional career off very well running under 16:00 minutes in the 5k on the roads, placing 11th at the the US outdoor National Championships in the 5k and placing 6th at the US indoor National Championships in the 3k.
After a year in Rumson, Clara and Jeff re-located to Marin County due to a job opportunity at Marin Country Day School for Jeff and because of Clara’s fond memories of running on Mt. Tam while in high school.
It wasn’t long before Jeff and Clara got an early start on a family by having their first child, Ramsey Peterson in April of 2009 then Riley Peterson in April of 2011, and finally Robin Peterson in November of 2013. Granted that being pregnant is not ideal for runners, Clara was able to train until the last day of each of her pregnancies. Due to Clara’s determination not to miss a single day of running during her maternity leaves (well, she missed a few during her third pregnancy), she was able to hop back into shape very quickly. Four months after having Riley, Clara was able to qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon by running a half marathon in a qualifying standard. Clara then ran her first marathon in January of 2012 at the Olympic Trials running 2:35 placing 16th.
Following the birth of her third child, Clara was ready to make a change in her running career and shifted to trail running with support of her new sponsor, NIKE. At her first trail race, she ran the fastest female time at the infamous Dipsea Race in Marin County, CA. While Clara has enjoyed trail racing, she still has her eyes set on the Olympic trials marathon coming up in 2016 so trains both on the roads and trails.
The hardest past about training for this “mamarunner” is balancing motherhood with not one, not two, but three young children! It is not uncommon for her to be out pushing the jogger stroller for up to 16 miles at a time or completing 30 hill reps on the treadmill next to her sleeping baby to make training while mothering fit into her life.
Clara now lives in Corte Madera, CA with her family. When she is not training she is chasing after her kids and coaching other runners. Her husband works at the Town School for Boys in San Francisco as the Athletic Director and provides incredible support for Clara’s running goals.