Like most ultra runners, John Almeda has slowly worked his way up from shorter distances, tacking on more miles bit by bit. Earlier this month, he tackled his next goal: a 100-mile race. He’s managed this while living with nonverbal autism, a feature his mother says is his super power.
Almeda joined other runners at the starting line of the Rio Del Lago endurance race November 5 in Folsom, California. Ready to cheer him on was his mother Vanessa, who has encouraged him through his achievements, which, according to his Instagram, include multiple marathons, a 50k, and a 50-miler. Vanessa has even helped log some of those miles with him during races.
She told CBS13 in Sacramento, “By mile nine, I’m like ‘What am I doing?’ and at mile 18, he’s looking back like ‘Where are you going? Come on this is so fun.'”
The fun reached its zenith Sunday, when John crossed the finish line at the Folsom race, a moment documented and shared on his Instagram and Facebook pages. The Facebook page marked it with the caption, “And he did it – 100 strong.”
The effort involved a lot of training, including running in a headlamp before the sun came up and after it set, to reflect conditions that John would face on the course. When he finally hit the trail, there was even more work to do. As he progressed, his accounts shared updates, including one showing he was speeding along at a 13:18-mile pace midway through the race.
You’d think one 100-mile run may be enough for a person, but John’s not even close to hanging it up at that distance. He hopes to one day do the Western States 100, a significant race in the world of ultra running. If his mom’s words are anything to go by, he’ll certainly enjoy the work to get there.
Vanessa says, “He just loves to run, and I feel like autism is his superpower. Autism just gives him what he needs. He doesn’t see time or distance. He just feels free energy and pure joy.”
To follow John’s continuing running quests, check him out on Instagram. You can also see more of his inspiring story in the video from CBS13 below.