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Turney tackles Western States

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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With each mile Judy Turney logs running, her perspective on life comes into focus a little clearer. Turney, 44, and an Auburn-native, has turned that focus to completing the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run June 25. Seven years ago it took Turney a year to complete her first 5K, but today she is ready to grind out every last mile with some of the world’s top ultrarunners. “I thought it would be an amazing accomplishment to be able to run 100 miles,” Turney said. “And how amazing would it be to run 100 in the town I was born and raised in and cross the finish line at the high school I graduated from.” Turney said she started running when she quit smoking to keep her mind off of it. Running became her outlet for anything life threw at her. “I do get the runner’s high,” Turney said. “It’s a good stress relief for me after a long day at work. When you run you feel like you can solve all the world’s problems.” Turney, who works at the Placer County Probation office, said hitting the trails in the American River Canyon, with running partner Kim White, has been her saving grace on many days. “Running has helped me get through a lot,” Turney said. “It’s helped me be a better mother, a better person, a better daughter, a better employee. It puts things in perspective. You are out there and you can think things through.” So far she has completed the Way Too Cool 50K four times and the American River 50-Mile Endurance Run three times. It wasn’t until three years ago that Turney set her sights on battling the elements of the Western States Trail. Although she wasn’t chosen in the race’s original lottery this year, Turney was one of seven people chosen in a special card drawing held at Placer. For the past six months Turney has dedicated herself to training. In January she began with 20-mile runs on weekends, eventually working up to 40 miles each weekend. Last weekend, Turney paced White in the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Run. White will return the favor for her running comrade. Turney’s son, Josh Turney, graduated from Placer this month, where he was a football and basketball standout. He will also step in to be her pacer for the last six miles. Judy said she has completed marathons with both of her sons. Although they are both faster than her, she has them beat when it comes to endurance. “I joke with my sons when I am mad at them, “You can run, but eventually I will catch up with you,” Turney said. While Judy said she would be devastated if she didn’t finish the race in the 30-hour window, Josh believes his mom has what it takes. “She is pretty strong and determined,” Josh said. “I don’t think she’ll give up unless someone forces her to.” Judy said the support of running partners and pacers is critical in overcoming the highs and lows of ultrarunning. “You have your up and downs, highs and lows,” Turney said. “During the down times you have to know it’s going to get better.” White, who lives off of Robie Point on mile 99 of the Western States Trail, said crossing the finish line of the San Diego 100 was emotional and seeing her friend complete Western States would be on par with that feeling. “We run in the rain, the snow, the thunder and even lightning,” White said. “Our goal is just to make sure each one of us sees out what we came for and each one obtains a goal we’ve set. We laugh together. We make fun of each other. It’s therapy with all the things that are going on.” Judy will be relying on that bond to get her through the challenges of a snowy trail, blisters, chaffing and anything else that may arise. “We’ve run so long together that you don’t even have to talk,” White said. “I know what she needs, when she needs it and she doesn’t even have to know it.” Last May, Judy completed the Miwok 100K, which is a little over 62 miles. While she isn’t sure what will come on race day, Judy is just hoping for the best. The night before long runs she typically makes spaghetti, which she said may be in the forecast for Friday night. “I’m starting to get nervous, but it’s a good nervous. We all have our good days and bad days,” Judy said. “The only thing I can pray for is a very good running day. I love to run and a bad run is better than no run.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.