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Co-workers and co-champions!

Published in For the Health of It Author: CentraCare

Two St. Cloud Hospital nurses join forces to win Earth Day Half Marathon Relay

The CentraCare Earth Day Run weekend is scheduled for April 19-20.

This year’s event will feature a big change. The packet pick-up, wellness expos and start/finish lines for all races are moving to downtown St. Cloud at River’s Edge Convention Center. This change will mean new routes for all Earth Day races too.

What won’t be changing is many of the participants who make Earth Day weekend an annual tradition. Last year, Jennifer Haws and Tricia Sladky were the women’s division winners of the Earth Day Half Marathon Relay. For those who don’t want to run the full 13.1 miles involved in the half marathon, but still want a challenge — the Half Marathon Relay is a great option. Just grab a friend or family member and decide who will take on the first part of the course and who will run second.

Jennifer and Tricia are nurses and co-workers at St. Cloud Hospital’s Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). We caught up with them to discuss their passion for running, their Earth Day traditions and how running impacts other areas of their life.

Q: How long have you been running and how long you have you participated in the Earth Day Run events?

Jennifer: I began running as a seventh grader and I participated in track throughout high school. Afterwards, I played tennis at St. Cloud State and I continued running to stay in shape for that. But after my college sports career was over, I felt a sense of loss. I liked having a competitive outlet and a way to physically and mentally challenge myself. I competed in my first 5K 15 years ago and I was hooked. My first Earth Day run was in 2004 and I’ve run both the 5K and Half Marathon several times over the years.

Tricia: I began running during my sophomore year of high school to get in shape for soccer season and I’ve been running ever since, but I am new to competition running. I ran the Earth Day Half Marathon two years ago and had a blast!

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2019 CentraCare Earth Day Weekend is April 19-20.

Sign up now to secure your spot in Central Minnesota's Premier Race Event!

Learn more details about our move to Downtown St. Cloud and register now at

Q: What caused you to come together to run as a team in the Earth Day Half Marathon Relay?

Jennifer: Tricia and I met last year around this time when I started working in the PACU. We quickly realized we are both runners and run at a similar pace. I had never done the relay before and I wanted a new challenge — so I asked Tricia to complete with me. Together we looked up past winning times and realized we had a real shot at placing.

Tricia: When Jennifer approached me about running the race as a relay in 2018, I initially wasn’t interested. I figured I would run the Half Marathon again. But when she pitched to me the idea of trying to win the women’s division relay, I was all in.

Q: Do each of your families also participate in any of the Earth Day weekend activities?

Jennifer: My three kids all like to participate in the 1K run. My husband occasionally runs with me and supports my habit by entertaining our children so I can get my run in each day. They will also cheer me on at various points along the course.

Tricia: No one else in my family runs. But that is actually great for me because it means I have more cheerleaders at the finish line!

Q: What is it like working in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit, working with patients only hours or minutes after a surgery? Are there any lessons from running you use in your professional life?

Jennifer: I absolutely love the PACU. Patients and families can be very scared and vulnerable during their time in my care. I feel honored to be a part of their journey.

Tricia: I have been working in the PACU for nearly four years. To be able to provide comfort, encouragement and a little humor is very meaningful to me. To spend time caring for people with broken bodies and then to head home for a run makes me realize how much good health and mobility is a blessing.

Q: How does running help you gain perspective in other areas of your life?

Jennifer: I have run at least a mile every day for nearly 1,000 straight days, since April 25, 2016. Maintaining this streak through illness, injury, whatever has taught me that I’m stronger than any excuse.

Tricia: Running is my stress reliever. It gives me time to decompress. The feeling of accomplishment you get after finishing a race is addicting. It’s like, if I just did this hard thing, what else might I be capable of?

Image: Jennifer Haws and Tricia Sladky, two nurses from St. Cloud Hospital's Post Anesthesia Care Unit were the women's division winners from last year's Earth Day Half Marathon Relay. The two of them are pictured with their Earth Day Run champions pint glasses!