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home : sports : sports May 24, 2016

4/15/2014 1:43:00 PM
Sisters woman heads to Boston Marathon
Jessica Slaughter, training with her swift-footed Rhodesian ridgeback. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Jessica Slaughter, training with her swift-footed Rhodesian ridgeback. photo provided

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

For Jessica Slaughter, returning to run the Boston Marathon this year is much more than a personal athletic achievement: It is an act of defiance.

Slaughter had crossed the finish line and was headed into the subway in Boston last spring when a bomb went off near the finish at the iconic marathon, killing three and severely wounding scores of people. She's returning this year in solidarity with her fellow athletes and the city of Boston.

The 40-year-old nurse- anaesthetist wasn't originally planning on returning this year, but she felt she had to join in making a statement: "All the runners have to band together and show that we don't run scared," she said.

Running has been a kind of statement for Slaughter since her youth.

"I literally ran out of a super-conservative cult...," she recalled. "I ran in secret. I got a track scholarship and I ran out of there. I didn't really fit in. I asked 'Why?' too much."

While running is a joy for her, it's also a major challenge. She works as much as 70 to 80 hours a week, putting people under for dental surgery at clinics across Oregon. She's also the mother of four kids - two in high school and two in third grade. And, fit as she may be, she has a significant physical challenge.

"Actually, I have asthma, and I really had to struggle to get here," she said.

Slaughter is a familiar figure on the roads and byways of Sisters Country, putting in the hundreds of training miles required of any endurance runner. She's also strength-training, which she says helps her avoid injury and has strengthened her core, improving her running efficiency.

Jason Gulley, a therapist and endurance athlete at Green Ridge Physical Therapy & Wellness is her coach.

Her goal at the marathon this year is to crack the three-hour threshold. That's not easy to do on Boston's notorious course, which features several "heartbreak hills."

Slaughter knows that this is no ordinary race. Like all racers, she was stunned that a terrorist would target the Boston Marathon. There seemed to be a particular, horrible meanness to the act, attacking a beloved institution as well as those participating in it.

"Bostonians hold it in the highest regard," she said. "It's going to be really emotional going back."

She noted that there are new security restrictions on what runners can bring with them, and no checked bags will be allowed - which throws some logistical kinks into the program for the runners.

She hopes to spend a little time enjoying the Boston area during the trip.

"Our family loves history," she said. "The whole Freedom Trail and the patriot history is so awesome there," she said.

Outside of work and raising her kids, Slaughter likes to ski and climb.

"I haven't got into cycling so much," she said. "I'm saving that for when I can't run."

Her kids have been in Sisters schools as interdistrict transfers for the past four years, and the family actually moved to Sisters last July.

Her husband, Jerry, was a college basketball player and he likes to cycle and acts as Slaughter's support crew. Her high-school-aged son plays lacrosse and football, and all the kids are active.

Promoting an active lifestyle is important to Jessica - and she notes that people can do more than they think they can, even overcoming serious hurdles.

"If I can do it working 70-80 hours a week with four kids and a breathing problem, anybody can do it," she said.

The Boston Marathon is set for Monday, April 21.

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