Jenni Richards is a friend and source of inspiration on and off the trail. She’s a trail runner, ultra runner, mom, wife, personal trainer, volunteer and helps run three family businesses. Yes, she’s busy and someone you count on for 5 AM group runs during the snow, ice and cold. She’s transformed her life physically, mentally and spiritually and has made an impact on so many in the local area running community.
G.O.A.T.z: How did you first discover running?
Jenni: In my younger days, I ran track and dabbled in running in my 20's but nothing serious or committed. After I gave birth to our 3rd child, Sophia, I found myself very overweight and hopeless. I decided I would start running as a way to get back into shape. I enlisted my husband and son to run with me too. Chris really started to enjoy running (a lot more than I did) and started training for a marathon a few months later. I was more interested in the 5 mile race kind of training.
G.O.A.T.z: What interests you about trail and ultra-running?
Jenni: I first found out about trail running when we were hiking in Colorado and a woman came running down the mountain we had just hiked. I was in awe. I had no idea people did that! Chris read a book about Dean Karnazes (Ultramarathon Man) and we decided that would be something we would enjoy. We did a bit of trail running on our next trip to Colorado. Our real love for trails came when we met the G.O.A.T.z on a night run at Tranquility a few years back. We loved the trails, the group and the fun. I never, ever considered running an ultra until Jody and Richelle convinced me I could do it. (I still have no idea why they thought I could.) So, I signed up for the first G.O.A.T.z 50k. I trained all summer on trails and made lots of new friends. For me, trail running is about enjoying God's creation and my friends at the same time. I always feel like a kid when I'm running trails.
G.O.A.T.z: What advice would you share with someone new to trail running?
Jenni: Listen to and watch the other people you are running with who have experience on the trails. Learn from them about their tips and tricks on how to make the experience enjoyable. Share the love of trails with others. Have fun!
G.O.A.T.z: How do you find time to juggle training and working?
Jenni: I don't work full time, but I am a mom of 3 kids, wife to a busy husband who farms and helps operate an agri-supply business and insurance agency. I work part time as a personal trainer and I teach running classes to people with little to no experience running. I get my runs in during the early morning hours or while my kids are at school. I lift weights somewhere in between.
G.O.A.T.z: What is your most memorable race or run?
Jenni: I would have to say Leadville marathon is my most memorable race even though I DNF'd. I travelled down there with a friend, met G.O.A.T.z down there and ran the race with a Goat/Turkey. I got stuck on the top of Mosquito pass with a bum knee/IT band and hobble my way back down the mountain with the help of that friend. But, I learned more than I ever would have otherwise. I learned that I love difficult courses. I love challenging terrain and the beauty of the mountains. Flat courses are not for me. I want the adventure of single track trails and altitude and boulders. I also learned that if I want to run those courses, I need to work hard toward meeting cutoffs in races because I'm not speedy at all but I am determined.
G.O.A.T.z: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Jenni: It's a miracle I can run at all. I broke my pelvis in three places when I was young and have nerve damage on the right side of my body. When I do run, my left leg is longer than my right by about an inch so most of the pounding is on the left side of my body. I just make do with what I have and keep plugging away.
G.O.A.T.z: What’s left on your running bucket list?
Jenni: Too many races to have a bucket list. If I can keep training hard and moving in the right direction, I'd like to run more altitude. It seems like new races are popping up all of the time and I wish I had the time and money to run them all. My plate is full this year with the Voyageur 50 in July, Superior Sawtooth in September and the Ozark 100 in November. If I accomplish all of those, I will reevaluate next year. However, I want to hike the Appalachian Trail and the Colorado Trail in the distant future.
G.O.A.T.z: What are your must have items on a run?
Jenni: My hanky, sunblock, a hat, and my water bottle with Tailwind.
G.O.A.T.z: Describe your perfect run.
Jenni: A perfect run for me is a day in the mountains with no time constraints and to be able to have the legs to run as long as I want.
G.O.A.T.z: What do you enjoy doing when you are not running?
Jenni: When we aren't spending most days at whatever sport my oldest son, Ryan is playing (cross country, basketball, track or baseball). We enjoy camping and being together as a family.
G.O.A.T.z: Tell us what your experience has being a part of the Greater Omaha Area Trail Runners (G.O.A.T.z).
Jenni: The G.O.A.T.z have changed my life in a good way. I have stretched myself to meet goals and boundaries I never thought possible before we started running with this group. I have watched people accomplish things of epic proportions and then believed that I could do those things, myself. I have gained friends that I never would have met if it weren't for the G.O.A.T.z. My kids have learned to run trails and take care of the places we run. I can't imagine my life without my G.O.A.T.z.
G.O.A.T.z: We’ve been lucky to have you run the G.O.A.T.z 50K. How would you describe this race to others?
Jenni: The G.O.A.T.z 50k is a great first Ultra for anyone who is willing to train. It's not easy but it's doable and there is a lot of support throughout the race to carry you through. The hugs and shouts when you come to the finish line are worth every painful step of the last loop.
G.O.A.T.z: What is your favorite trail in the Greater Omaha Area?
Jenni: Platte River State Park - It's about an hour away from where I live in Southwest Iowa. I love the trails and the terrain, the beauty of the park and that I can show up there and run ANYTIME of the day or night. I have trained in the early morning hours there in Snow, Ice, and Heat. It's my happy place.
G.O.A.T.z: What are your thoughts on training partners?
Jenni: I have not really ever had a real training partner. I have had people I've run with here or there but I think if there is someone who will push you and encourage you and be there on each and every run, then that is awesome. I run by myself a majority of the time but I really crave company sometimes. I don't' find many people who run my pace very often, so I take what I can get.