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Record-breaking, cross-USA runner returns to Valley

Sandra Villines returned home after running from San Francisco to New York City in less than 55 days to smash the women's trans-continental run.
Sandra Villines returned home after running from San Francisco to New York City in less than 55 days to smash the women's trans-continental run. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Sandra Villines returned to California less than two months after running down the steps at San Francisco City Hall and finishing her historic, cross-country run at New York City Hall in the wee hours of last Sunday.

This time, however, the 45-year-old Tracy resident flew back and took the time to read ‘Running on Empty,’ a book by fellow ultramarathoner Marshall Ulrich on his run across the United States in just more than 52 days in 2008.

Asked what she missed most during her run, Villines replied: “Home, and family.”

Villines covered more than 3,100 miles in 54 days, 16 hours and 24 minutes to break the record (69 days, 2 hours, 40 minutes) held since 1978 by South Africa’s Mavis Hutchison.

“We’ll take her home and fatten her up,” said mother Rachel Villines, who handed her daughter a bunch of roses upon her arrival Tuesday afternoon at Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

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Sandra Villines returned home after running from San Francisco to New York City in less than 55 days to smash the women's trans-continental run. She was greeted by daughter Shellie Corralejo and mother Rachel Villines Nov. 7 at Fresno Yosemite International Airport. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Among the dozen greeters was 22-year-old daughter Shellie Corralejo, who will make Sandra Villines a grandmother in February.

Villines, who won the 2017 women’s race at the STYR Labs Badwater Ultramarathon, averaged about two marathons a day during her run across the country. She decided to run the final 135 miles nonstop starting last Friday morning.

Villines has roots in the area. She was born in Bakersfield, graduated from Stockton’s Edison High School, and has lived in Fresno and Sacramento. Her parents live in Madera. Villines has trained on a regular basis with Madera resident Oswaldo López, the 2011 Badwater Ultramathon champion.

She is the second Badwater champion to break the TransCon record. Last year, 2016 men’s champion Pete Kostelnick shattered the men’s TransCon record in 42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes along the same course that Villines followed.

Kostelnick, who lives in Missouri, provided advice to Villines during her run and actually ran with her when she reached his area.

Badwater race director Chris Kostman, who helped crew Villines her first three days of the run, is trying to arrange for Villines, Kostelnick and Marshall to run the Badwater Salton Sea.

See a more detailed story in the Nov. 15 edition of Vida en el Valle.

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