Slaney still yearns to run

Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:45pm EDT
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By Gene Cherry

EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - Even after all the pain, the surgery and the heartbreak, Mary Slaney still wants to run.

"If I could get healthy, I would get out there and see how much an almost 51-year-old body could do," America's greatest female middle-distance runner told Reuters in a recent interview. "But I can't get healthy enough orthopedically."

A multitude of operations, more than 30 by her count, has left her unable to run competitively.

"I guess it was '99 I had surgeries on my legs and my feet that was supposed to help me stay healthy, help me enough to train...I was looking at starting to train for marathons," she said. "Well, this surgery, it just destroyed what there was left."

More recent operations have not solved the problems for the former 1,500 and 3,000 meters world champion who, as Mary Decker, became known for the on-track collision with Britain's Zola Budd that destroyed her hopes of winning the 1984 Olympic 3,000 title.

So Slaney jogs every other day and hikes in the woods with her three Weimaraner dogs on the 55-acre property she and her husband of 24 years, former British discus thrower Richard Slaney, own outside Eugene.

"If I go out and do too much or try to go too fast, I wind up with stress fractures," said Slaney, who set 17 official and unofficial world records.

Sewing, quilting, gardening and renovating occupy much of her time.   Continued...

<p>Former U.S. Olympic track star Mary Slaney plays with her dogs at her home in Eugene, Oregon in this June 26, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Richard Clement/Files</p>