Wyoming rancher runs in Boston Marathon

Terra Ochsner
Posted 3/27/24

By Terra Ochsner  

Editor of the Western Ag Reporter

TORRINGTON – On April 15, 2024, thousands of the world’s most elite runners will convene in Boston, Massachusetts, for …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Wyoming rancher runs in Boston Marathon


By Terra Ochsner 

Editor of the Western Ag Reporter

TORRINGTON – On April 15, 2024, thousands of the world’s most elite runners will convene in Boston, Massachusetts, for the 128th Annual Boston Marathon (26.2 miles), and among those athletes this year will be first-time qualifier, Jason Taylor, a rancher and father of eight from Torrington, Wyoming. Of all the marathons that are run around the globe each year, only six have earned the title of “World Marathon Major,” including the Tokyo Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon, the New York City Marathon, and the Boston Marathon.

For the 42-year-old, qualifying for the Boston Marathon has been a lifelong dream that began in his family’s hay fields in Washington state when he was young.

“Running and agriculture are pretty intertwined,” Taylor began. “I grew up on an alfalfa farm, and we didn’t have pivots at that time, so we had hand lines and wheel lines. We’d get up early and move pipes, and there would be about 20 pipes per line. We’d have to take them apart, drain them, and carry them 20 or 30 steps to the next set, and you’d hook them all back up.”

With a longer growing season in Washington, Taylor said his family would get five cuttings each year, and as such, a lot of work had to get done before school in the mornings.

“A lot of it was done running because we had to hurry up and get done, so that’s probably where I started getting in shape to run. And then we’d get up early and bale little squares on 800 acres, and we would buck bales and ship it to the dairies in Canada and Washington,” Taylor said.

He also recalled a program in grade school called “Junior Joggers,” where kids would get to run around a half-mile field during lunch.

“You’d get a paper slip every time you went around, and you’d turn them in after the lunch break,” he said. “They’d total your miles, and I think I made it to the 200-mile club, which was a big deal for us fourth and fifth graders.”

Taylor’s family eventually moved to Baggs, Wyoming, and transitioned more to the cattle side of agriculture. 

“I fell in love with the ranching, because I was sick and tired of farming,” he joked. 

In that time, he continued to thrive in the challenges presented by ranching and running. Throughout high school, he was successful in track and field; however, Taylor’s gifts began to shine through the longer races in cross country.

“The longer the race, the better for me. I was ranked in the top three every year in high school for the mile and two mile, but that wasn’t really what I was great at,” he said, adding that he was a state champion in cross country. “I love cross country because it just presents more challenges, and there’s a lot more to it than just running around an oval. When I was in high school, running was my life. That’s what I thought I was going to focus on for a long time.”

And that plan came to fruition – for a while at least. Taylor competed on both the track and cross country teams at the University of Sioux Falls. However, the twist came when he met his now wife, Kim, around Christmastime his freshman year. 

“I always thought I wouldn’t get married until I was 40. I was just foot loose and fancy free,” he chuckled. “But, I knew she was the person that I wanted to be around the rest of my life.”

He and Kim were engaged six months after meeting, were married by the age of 20, and they had their first son, Cody, 10 months after they got married. The couple finished up their two-year degrees, and with Cody in tow, they headed back to Baggs where Jason began coaching cross country and ranching.

Their second child, Collin, was born 15-months after Cody, and he was followed by: Callie, Cora, Conner, Cayla, Crimson, and Clancy.

Jason recalled the first marathon he ever ran in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, right before he and Kim were married. At that point, he’d never run more than a half marathon (13.1 miles).

“I was in third place and felt like I was doing really well. I was running like a 2 hour 40 minute pace, which would’ve been pretty cool at that point in my life for my debut,” he said. “I hit mile 18, and I started feeling tired and hadn’t been taking on fluids like I should. At 21.5 miles, I stopped […] and my muscles locked up.”

Taylor said his mind “was getting foggy,” and he had to drop out of that race.

“But I learned a lot from it,” he said.

With moves from Wyoming to Nebraska and back again, along with raising and homeschooling their children, and of course, ranching, Jason’s running goals took a back seat for about 13 years. In fact, he was 28 the last time he ran a marathon. Though running has remained an important outlet for him the entire time.

“Long term, if I’m not running, I’m just more tired and mentally kind of down in the dumps. If you have a day where you have the blues, if you get out and run – and you’ve got to force yourself sometimes - it just can change your perspective so much. There is a physiological thing that happens when you run that really makes a big difference to your mental health.”

He added that “ranching can be so tough, and the finances as well,” but running “shows that, when things get hard, you can push through,” he said.

It’s Contagious…

One of the greatest examples of overcoming challenges through training came in the 16-weeks leading up to the Colorado Marathon (May of 2023) where Taylor was able to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The meat of his training took place during a harsh winter, right in the middle of calving.

“Having eight kids, running marathons, and running a 600 head ranch are all things that most people wouldn’t even consider, and I like to do things that most people think are crazy,” he said. 

But in the words of his family, the craziness is contagious, and the efforts and sacrifices he’s made to this process have made significant impacts on them all.

“My dad always pushes so hard in everything he does,” Jason and Kim’s oldest son, Cody (20-years-old), said. “His work ethic and perseverance has rubbed off on us, and it has shown us that you always finish well and never leave something half done.”

Cody, who works for another rancher in Torrington now, recalled how “cool” it was to watch his dad finish the Colorado Marathon and qualify for the Boston Marathon “by quite a bit.” Jason needed to finish in 3 hours 10 minutes or less to qualify, and he logged a time of 3 hours 3 minutes, which earned him 40th place overall and won him the 40–44-year-old men’s division by over two minutes.

Collin, who is 19-years-old and working on a ranch in Valentine, Nebraska, added that he is so proud to see his dad “finally going for it” after all these years of putting the family and the ranch first.

“He has always inspired me to go out and challenge myself,” Collin said.

Cody and Collin both picked up running from their father and continue to do so now.

“I think we all like running, mostly because he does,” Cody said.

Callie (17) and Cora (15) both had the unique experience last fall of having their dad as their high school cross country coach, and while Cora is the self-proclaimed non-runner of the family, they both enjoyed seeing how passionate he was about that aspect of the sport as well.

“It was super cool to have him as an official coach,” Callie continued, “even though he’s been my coach, my boss, and my teacher my whole life.” 

Cora recalled all the times she’s watched him run in her life, and how he’ll come home from a long day at the ranch and start running on the treadmill.

“I always think, ‘aren’t you tired?’” she laughed, “but he’s so passionate about it.” 

Callie added that “it’s been amazing” to see him overcome calving, injuries of his own, and everything in between to achieve his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

She added that this relates to his faith and one of his favorite Bible verses, James 1: 2-4 (NLT Version):

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

“I think it applies to so many areas of life,” Callie said. “Through faith, ranching, and running, you’re conquering trials all the time.”

Cody, Collin, Callie, and Cora each commended both of their parents for the personal sacrifices they’ve made over the years, and most importantly for teaching them, their siblings, and many others about God’s love.

“Not only have they instilled God in us, but they follow God themselves,” Cody said. “It’s not so much them talking about it, but the fact that they really live it.”

Boston Goals…

Once the Boston Marathon rolls around in a few short weeks, the Taylors will be slowing down on their first round of calving and gearing up for their second. Kim and Jason plan to be in Boston for five days in order for him to get acclimated beforehand and allow for some recovery post-race. Most of the family is going to make the trip to support him, and Jason’s brother, Josh, will stay behind to make sure things run smoothly at the ranch.

Taylor’s “Plan A” goal is to finish under 3 hours, and “Plan B” is to finish under 3 hours 5 minutes, with “Plan C” being to simply finish the race.

“If you cross the finish line in Boston, you’ve gotten somewhere, and you know you’ve done something,” he said.

He commended his family for stepping up to help him during his training the last several years, from covering things at the ranch, to driving/running alongside him during his many hours of training to ensure that he’s got the resources he needs.

“If I didn’t have the family I do, this would’ve been so hard,” he said. “It’s been really special.”