By Kevin Grogan
There are a bunch of South Lake Runners on the trail that log a few
miles a couple days a week. And then there is Toni Richardson. Toni
is on the trail sometimes twice a day getting it done and putting in
the work. There is even a term that her fellow runners have come up
with when logging a whole lot of run miles; we call it, “Toni Miles”.
With her first Ultra race (longer than 26.2 miles) in the books, it’s
easy to see this was to be the first of many such grueling events for
Toni. She is also very much of a giver. She is one of
Clermont parkruns best volunteers. She always has a smile on her face
when you bump into her at a race or at the NTC.
The TABLET caught up with Toni after one of her weekend runs.
Tablet: Tell us a bit about your athletic background growing up and
now as an Ultra Runner.
Richardson: Growing up I wasn’t all that athletic but enjoyed being
active. I started running in 2007 when taking a Boot Camp at NTC. At
that time there were monthly 5k runs in the early evening and decided
to try one. I was terribly sore for a few days but stuck with it. 5k
runs were fun. The next step was a 15k. In 2013 I wanted to go up
another level so I signed up for my first half marathon at Lake Louisa
and immediately enrolled in NTC’s runner training so I wouldn’t die out
on the course. I enjoyed it! In 2015 I couldn’t get in the Space Coast
Half so, with a leap of faith, I signed up for the dreaded Full
Marathon. I loved that too. The Ultra decision was an easy one, after
all, it’s ONLY 6 more miles to the 50k and a 12-hour event was
doable. I would see how much farther I could go. I loved it!
Tablet: You just finished a very special 12-hour running race down in
Jupiter, Florida. Can you share a bit about the event?
Richardson: My first 12-hour Ultra Marathon was to take place on Sept. 9th, but was canceled due to hurricane Irma. I didn’t know when or if it would be rescheduled so I was excited to get an email that it was on again for Sept. 30th. They offered a 50k, 6 hr. or 12 hr. run.
The course was set in beautiful Riverbend Park with a 4-mile crushed shell trail loop. The 12 hours didn’t drag by as I was afraid it might. The scenery of streams, wildlife, ferns and trees made the run relaxing. Other runners would often slow their pace to mine and chat awhile before continuing on. I was surprised the course felt shorter as the time went by. There were maybe 100 runners. Everyone was very
friendly and supportive. I ended up with a total of 36 miles in the end.
Tablet: Describe your typical day with training/running & also working.
Richardson: My typical days Monday through Thursdays start out with a
3:30am wake up to get ready to be at NTC by 5am when it opens.
I enjoy working out on the treadmill and lateral trainer. From there
it’s off to work in Ocoee. Tuesday and Thursday nights. I’m back at NTC for the run program on the track.
Tablet: What are some other activities you do to help your run training?
Richardson: Some other training activities are regular use of foam
roller, stretching, weights, water running and laps in the pool.
Tablet: You can be found most of the weekend running on the South Lake
Trail. What has been you furthest run out there in just “training”?
Richardson: I enjoy getting out on the South Lake Trail for my long
training runs, my furthest was a 35 miler while training for the
Ultra. Saturdays I’ll include our local free weekly 5k parkrun as
part of any long run. Super people there and very supportive of all
runners and walkers.
Tablet: What events do you have coming up and what are some of your goals
on the horizon?
Richardson: I have several events over the next 6 months, mostly half
* Oct.7 John Holmes 9 mile trail run
* Oct. 29 Cocoa Beach Half,
* Nov. 11. Fl. Run Lake Louisa half
* Nov. 26 Space Coast Marathon relay with my running friend, Marysol Irizarry
* Dec. 1 and 2 5k & Everglades half
* Dec. 17 Mt. Dora half
* Jan. 18 Jacksonville half
* Feb. 3 Cherry Lake Farms 10k
* March 25 New Orleans half
Then I’ll start training again for another 12-hour Ultra in September. My goal is to increase my total miles finished to 50.
Tablet: There are two quotes that your fellow South Lake runners use to describe you.
“Tough as nails, but probably the kindest person out there on the Trail”, and
“Toni is an inspiration to just about everyone in our running community.” You are definitely, an inspiration to so many.
Talk about what drives you as a runner and as a person.
Richardson: The thing that drives me to run was my mom. She was always
active but then stopped and lost her ability to move around. I don’t
ever want to be in that position so I keep moving and enjoy
encouraging others to do the same. I want to be that 100-year old
woman still running in races.
Tablet: What one piece of advice would you give a new runner just
starting out and looking to do his/her first 5k?
Richardson: To the first time 5k runner, I would advise making sure you
have good running form. You can avoid injuries down the road.
Tablet: Anything else you would like to add?
Richardson: Enjoy running. They are all good runs, even the ones
that feel terrible. You can learn from all of them. Happy Running 🙂