CO supervisor runs marathons to combat stress

Quit smoking and took up running to deal with pressures of the job

By Mary Nevans-Pederson
The Online

MARQUETTE, Iowa — Overseeing prison guards in a super-max facility is a stressful job, so Sara Mason smoked to calm her nerves.

Mason, 53, quit smoking 14 years ago and took up running — long-distance running — to ease her tension. She immediately loved the long hours of hard breathing and leg pumping and already has nearly 40 marathon races under her belt. Last month, she and her husband, Tim, traveled to Ireland so she could run in the Dublin Marathon with about 15,000 others. The couple spent 10 days in Ireland, returning last week.

"I was never in sports in school and just ran a little bit to counter weight gain from overeating," said Mason, of rural Marquette. "But I needed something to get rid of the stress." She is a captain at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility for men in Boscobel, Wis., where she supervises guards.

Mason found a training program on the Internet and followed it exactly for six months before her first race in Madison in 2000. She regularly runs in both Prairie du Chien and Boscobel.

In her first year of running, the couple traveled to Alaska so she could compete in the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage. The couple often plans their vacations around her marathon runs. The biggest race she has run is the Chicago Marathon, with 45,000 other runners, and the smallest contest was the Pine Line Marathon in Medford, Wis., with about 200. That spring race was memorable for the worst weather, with snow and sleet, but equally difficult was a horridly hot and humid race in Omaha, Neb., one summer.

"I don't mind really. I get such a sense of accomplishment from finishing the races, and I stay fit," she said. "I want to be running when I'm 70."

Full story: Prison guard supervisor runs out of stress with marathons

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