The identity and capture of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects has begun the healing process for those affected by the tragedy.

And if the goal of the attackers was to strike fear in this country, it failed miserably, especially among the running community.

Many Bakersfield runners were deeply affected by the attack that occurred at the nation's oldest and most prestigious race of marathons -- one which many serious runners dream of qualifying in.

As a result, these runners have found ways to endure, whether it was participating in a recent local run or global charity supporting Boston and coming together as a more united group.

A number of runners in Kern County are currently preparing for upcoming major races, and I'm sure the preparation and ultimate crossing of the finish line will generate a much deeper meaning that goes beyond the usual celebration of victory and personal achievement.

Next Saturday, April 27, at least eight local runners will be competing in the Leona Divide 50/50 Trail Race in the Lake Hughes area. Runners will get to run through the Pacific Coast Trail, and they will either cover a distance of 50 miles or 50k (about 31 miles). In two weeks, another local four or five runners will be competing in a 100 miler. Yes, 100 miles.

These ultra runners are part of a special and elite group that persistently trains for ultra marathons, which is anything beyond the marathon distance of 26.2.

Andy Noise, coach of the Bakersfield Distance Project, says Bakersfield is seeing a revival in ultra running. Noise is among the group of runners competing in one of the upcoming ultra races. Others include: Joel Livesey, Diana Dean Daves, Tyler Garewal, Garrett Main, and Trace Bee.

I am fortunate to know a number of these ultra runners, and I can tell you that they are some of the neatest, strongest people I know. I admire their passion, endurance and determination.

Best of luck to all of them. I am sure the ultra journey will be an unforgettable one.

Spring Social

The weather is warming up, and with it comes some of the hottest events this season, such as the 11th annual Spring Social and Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Organized by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the event will be held 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday May 3 at the Golden West Casino. Carlos Navarro and Eva Ramirez are co-chairing the event and are promising a night of great food, fun gaming, live entertainment, including Thee Majestics, and key networking opportunities with its chamber membership. Jay Tamsi, president and CEO of the KCHCC, said the Spring Social raises funds to support the chamber's business programs and services.

"The Spring Social is always a fun, exciting night of celebration," Tamsi said. "It is a way for members to gather, network, celebrate upcoming chamber plans and raise money for a good cause. And of course, they get to enjoy a nice dinner and dance the night away.

"Our members always look forward to the event."

However, the event is open to the public, Tamsi said.

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased in advance by calling 661-633-5495 or at the door.

Ruscel Reader

Congrats to Ruscel Reader, who retired as the Chavez elementary school principal in Bakersfield but remains a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She received the AKA Far Western Region's Outstanding Chapter President of the Year Award and the Regional Director's Leadership Award while the local chapter, Kappa Omega Omega of Bakersfield, received the Graduate Chapter Achievement Award at the sorority's recent regional conference that was held at the JW Marriott LA Live in Los Angeles. The event drew more than 1,000 members from nine states.

Reader says AKA is the first African American sorority that was founded in 1908 at Howard University and focuses on "service to all mankind."

The local chapter, Kappa Omega Omega, sponsors the Graduation Awards Program that honors Kern High School District's outstanding African American high school seniors and eighth grade Honor Roll students from 23 junior high and middle schools in Kern County, Miss Fashionetta, an education and scholarship program that provides students with scholarships for college, and Emerging Young Leaders, that provides girls in grades six through eight with leadership development, civic engagement, enhanced academic preparation and character building skills, Reader says. The president of the local chapter is Raquell Jones.

Officer of the Year

Mark your calendars for the upcoming Police Officer of the Year Awards, organized by the Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation. The event is a touching, inspirational awards and dinner program that you don't want to miss. Its focus is to highlight law enforcement and military officials who have been selected as the officer of the year by their agencies. The neat part is that you get to hear the stories behind the nominations.

Sofie Zimmermann, a board member of the Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation, says she is excited about this year's event, which marks its 25th anniversary. She also noted that college students seeking careers in law enforcement would be awarded scholarships that evening. The event will be held Friday, June 7, at the Stockdale Country Club.

Tickets and sponsorships are available. For more information, please call Zimmermann at 342-1532.

Olivia Garcia is editor of Bakersfield Life and BWell magazines and a columnist of The Bakersfield Californian. These are her opinions, not necessarily those of The Bakersfield Californian. Send her tips