As April Ritter and her seven-year-old daughter Emily speed down the streets in Chino Hills, you might suspect that they’ve both been running their entire lives. While you may be right about Emily, April didn’t begin distance running until her late 30s, where she soon found her calling: ultra marathons. “Ultra marathons,” April explained, “are any race over the traditional 26.2 miles…normally though, they start at 50K or 32 miles and go up from there.”
April began distance running as a way to clear her mind. Like many people starting off, she didn’t know how to train and found it was taking a physical toll. That winter, she joined a local running club to keep her motivated. Once she was training correctly and using the proper gear, April was able to finish the 2006 LA Marathon in 3 hours and 48 minutes. “Cool,” this driven woman thought, “I’ll never do that again.” She did three more that year.
After taking some time off during her pregnancy, April ran with Emily in a jogging stroller to qualify for the Boston Marathon. “I realized I could do it if I just didn’t take breaks!” she laughed.
In 2011, however, April was looking for a new type of challenge. She found it in the American River 50-Mile Endurance Run which starts in Sacramento and ends in Auburn. Upon completion, she told her husband, Bill, “If I ever even think about doing a hundred-miler, shoot me!”
Of course, that made it pretty difficult to let him know when she signed up for the 2012 Nanny Goat 100 Mile Race in Riverside. It was during this race that April, once again, realized how important managing her nutrition and pacing was. She made it to 73 miles and stopped.
For many of us, that would be enough. But April was back the next year… only slower. And this time, she made it.
Including that race, April has finished seven hundred-milers in the past two years; she completed her seventh in 21 hours and 20 minutes. When asked what keeps her training for such a grueling endeavor, April commented on mental discipline. “The body breaks down over that long of a distance; it’s your mind that keeps you going. That,” she smiled, “and the people. I’ve met all these crazy characters along the way, and I know that I’m a part of that.” Looking at April, it’s easy to see that she is a proud member of this group, and being in the presence of a person this determined and hard-working is an honor for anyone.
For more information on the Chino Hills based Inland Empire Running Club, visit www.ierunningclub.com.
Jennifer Lorelei Ortega, Community Contributor, Inland Empire Running Club