The latest training regimen for one of the nation’s youngest marathon competitors, Blanca Ramírez, 13, includes someone very special.
These days, the southern California native, who is also the youngest girl to compete in seven 26-mile marathons on seven continents, is working toward an ultramarathon in Big Bear on Sept. 26. Ramírez, an eighth-grader from La Puente will run the course with her father Dimas Ramírez.
Dimas, a real estate investor, has run alongside his daughter for several years throughout her quest to become the youngest marathon runner. Blanca has competed in marathons in Paraguay, China, New Zealand, Rwanda, France and the most-recent in Antarctica in early 2015.
The marathon in Antarctica was just days after Blanca competed in Paris, France. With her father at her side, she boarded and disembarked flights to make both competitions.
Dimas does travels with the youngest of his three daughters, but has never really competed himself.
“He’s not a runner, mostly like a walker,” said his wife of 20 years, Cecelia Ramírez.
All of the family’s children have or will participate in athletic activities: Adriana, 18, was named Athlete of the Year at West Covina High School, leading the girl’s basketball team to the California Interscholastic Federation playoffs. She was also a competitor in the high jump, the pole vault, and even represented the United States in the United World Games last year.
Madelyn, 17, who competes in high school basketball, and the only boy, Jordan, 6, is destined to become a runner said Dimas.
Blanca competed in her first running competition at 10 years old, running the Disneyland 5-kilometer in Los Angeles.
“We showed up (at Disneyland) and there was these start and finish lines. I guess I just wanted to do it a lot more,” remembers Blanca, who eagerly hopes to compete in the Boston Marathon upon age 18.
Since her first race, Blanca has earned over 40 medals and numerous first-and-second place trophies.
The worldwide marathons have been challenging: Thinking back on it, Blanca said “Antarctica (Feb 2015) was freezing, I had to run in three pairs of pants, two shirts and a jacket, sometimes I couldn’t feel my face,” she remembers.
“New Zealand was too (Nov. 2014). The view was so nice. In Antarctica, the group of people we went with were really nice. I felt like I knew them for a long time.”
Being her father and No. 1 supporter, Dimas isn’t just her pace runner in the upcoming ultramarathon: “The easiest part running with him is probably a couple of laps going with him, actually keep the pace. Keep the pace and not be dying because it’s his first ultramarathon,” said Blanca, “I’m going to stay at his pace because, but I have to stay with him.”
“We’ve gotten criticized,” said Dimas over Blanca’s age competing internationally and possibly missing out on her childhood.
“We got bombarded with criticism from the Hispanic community, but it didn’t compare to all the great support that we got. We’re not taking away the childhood experience. I don’t want the running to interfere with her life. I don’t have to explain to people, I know it’s more about support, not about my living through her.”
With all the The Ramírez family has put up over $50,000, some through donations, toward Blanca’s worldwide competitions. The Antarctica trip alone exceeded $15,000 for Blanca and her father.
Like Adriana, who earned a college scholarship this year to compete in track and field at a university, Dimas and Cecelia know one day the sacrifice and money for Blanca will eventually pay off.