COCC professor “takes back” Boston Marathon

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How one COCC professor made the top finish time of any Central Oregon runner

A year after the Boston Marathon bombings shook the nation, a Central Oregon Community College professor qualified for and ran the globally recognized race to show support for those who lost their limbs and lives.

Emma Chaput is an assistant professor of human biology at COCC, but she’s also a competitive runner. Chaput didn’t always run. Before high school, the award-winning athlete was “completely inactive.” But in high school she started up, and found her passion.

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Chaput has now been running for over 25 years, giving her the needed fitness to qualify for a very competitive race.

Chaput’s inspiration

On April 15, 2013, at 2:49 p.m., three bombs exploded in Boston, killing three people and injuring about 264 others. The location? The annual Boston Marathon. The incident dominated the news for weeks, prompting new security measures. But for Chaput, it was more than just a chilling story. It was personal.

Chaput grew up in New England, and lived an hour outside of Boston. As a young girl, she and her parents used to watch the race. Chaput knew she wanted to run someday, but last year’s bombings sped up her determination.

“As a result of the bombing, I got a little bit pissed and said, ‘You don’t get to do that to my people,’” Chaput said. “So I decided I would run Boston this year. I wanted to be a part of the demonstration of resiliency.”

Chaput hadn’t run a marathon for two years, but she prepped for qualifiers, and July 2013 ran the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon at Sauvie Island near Portland, Oregon. Chaput needed to finish in under 03:45:00 to qualify, based on her age and gender. She crossed the finish line with a time of 03:02:58, winning the race for the women’s category.

As a result, Chaput packed her bags and headed to the Boston Marathon on April 21.

Demonstrating hope for America

This year’s Boston Marathon was the largest since 1996, and over a million spectators gathered for the race – twice the amount of a typical year.

And that’s not all. Standing side by side with Chaput were some of the victims of last year’s blasts.

“I saw … survivors who had been injured last year and were running,” Chaput said.

Morale was high, and Chaput felt it. At about 20 miles, Chaput heard the news that the first American in over 30 years had won the men’s competition.

“The whole crowd of runners just erupted into cheers,” she recounted. “It definitely carried us those last six miles.”

COCC’s professor didn’t place badly, either. Although Chaput says she tried not to push herself, she crossed the finish line with a time of 03:13:15, with the top finish time of any Central Oregon runner.

Chaput didn’t stay to celebrate. She flew back to Bend the same day as the marathon, and went to COCC early the next morning.

“People from all around campus – faculty, staff, students – have been thanking me for representing the campus and representing Central Oregon,” Chaput said.

Chaput doesn’t plan to run the Boston Marathon again in the imminent future. But for now, she says she’s “moved” to have been there and shown support after last year’s tragedy.

“I have never been so grateful to have the opportunity to run a marathon,” Chaput said. “The feeling of celebration and joy among the runners and the crowds of spectators was so moving. … It was profound in a way I didn’t quite expect.”

Junnelle Hogen | The Broadside
(Contact: jhogen@cocc.edu)

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