For Nitzers of Muleshoe, running a family affair

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo The Nizter family welcomed two new members, Beric and Berin, when the twins were born three months ago. Deb and Grant Nitzer stand with their nine children Laurel, back left, Bethany, back middle, Hudson, back right, Gracee, front left, Holly, front middle, Rasmey and Jonathan, front right, in front of their home in Muleshoe.

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico

Grant and Deb Nitzer, with nine kids, now have enough for a football team in Muleshoe.

And if running was a formula for gridiron success , the Nitzers might just have a shot.

You see, running isn’t just something that Grant Nitzer does. It’s an activity that actually involves every member of the family, although a much larger extent for some than the others.

“With a large family, we try to do things to incorporate the whole family,” Nitzer said. “Sometimes we’ll go over to the high school and my wife will push the new babies and some of us will go at a faster pace.”

On Thanksgiving Day, the running Nitzers will be in the annual Turkey Trot held in Dallas.

And that’s all the Nitzers: Mom, Dad, daughter Laurel, 14; daughter Bethany, 12: son Hudson, 10: son Ramsey, 8; daughter Holly 7; son Jonathan, 5; daughter Gracee, 3: son Beric, 3 months and twin sister Berin.

The four youngest kids will be pushed in strollers by the parents. For Dr. Grant Nitzer, who was a high school wrestler and only took up running while going to medical school, it’ll be no small feat.

He will be pushing along two of the kids, while accompanied by Laurel, Bethany and Hudson in the eight-mile run.

“I imagine it is (difficult). I haven’t done it yet,” said Nitzer, referring to the task of pushing a stroller while running that length.

The three oldest children and Grant have done the eight-mile distance before – two years ago at the same event.

Nitzer conceived the idea of running as something his large family could all do together.

“Two years ago, we got on the Internet and basically looked up how to train for a 10K,” Nitzer said. “I knew how much time we had and it sort of broke it down — at first it was like jogging for two minutes and then walking for 30 seconds or something like that.”

Grant Nitzer says his kids, for the most part, enjoy running although “sometimes it’s dad having to cajole them.”

He adds that Bethany is probably the most enthusiastic about the activity on a regular basis.

“I love it, it’s really fun,” Bethany Nitzer said. “My brother (Hudson) is a born runner — he loves running. He’s skinny and really fast. He’s usually out ahead of all of us.”

The Nitzer children are being home-schooled in Muleshoe, although they participate in a home school co-op program based in Clovis.

Running isn’t the only past time for the family either.

“We go to Clovis once a week for piano and, when home school is going, we go every Friday for about six weeks,” Bethany said. “Laurel, Hudson, me, Ramsey and Holly are all doing piano.”

Dad explains the same philosophy for taking up running has also led to the family picking up instruments — a la The Partridge Family.

“The running is kind of an outlet. We also have a family band that we’re working on,” Grant Nitzer said. “My son plays guitar, I play guitar, Bethany plays violin, piano and sax, my wife’s a drummer. We’ve played at church several times and other things, but these are pretty low-key venues.

“You have to be purposeful in what you can do to maintain a family identity,” he added. “Otherwise, we’d be going in 400 directions and Mom and Dad would just be a taxi-cab service. We’d be a house of people just sharing a roof together.”