"WHY I RUN" Members of the fiu community share their inspiration for running the miami marathon and half marathon

By Joel Delgado

From experienced runners to first-time marathoners and life-long Miamians to international competitors, few races can boast the level of diversity that is engrained in the Miami Marathon.

More than 20,000 runners participated in the 2018 Fitbit Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on Jan. 28, each bringing their own unique story to the race.

FIU is well represented at the annual event, with hundreds of Panthers running in both races. It's almost impossible to run long before bumping into a student, alumnus or staff member racing toward the finish line.

In fact, Miami Marathon co-founder Frankie Ruiz is an alumnus, graduating with a master's degree in public administration in 2002.

“One of the most appealing things about running this race is that you connect with so many people and the city at the same time," Ruiz says. "You form a special bond with the city and the people you are running with.”

But while each person is running toward the same finish line and for the same medal, their reasons for running are as unique as the people who run them. FIU News asked several members of the FIU community to share their motivations for participating this year's race.


Special Events Coordinator – CARTA/Miami Beach Urban Studios

“This weekend I participated in the Miami Half Marathon for the first time. This was a special moment for me since I have never been a runner or in good enough shape to run for that matter. But in 2017 I decided to drastically change my life by eating healthier and getting fit. I have lost over 80 pounds in the past year. When I reached my first goal of losing 50 pounds in August I decided I wanted to sign up for a race, at first I only signed up for a 5K in November and I figured I had enough time to train.

After losing some motivation training on my own, I found Team Footworks in South Miami while I was being fitted with my first pair of running shoes. The storeowner convinced me that I could complete in the Miami Half Marathon in January. Over the last 18 weeks, I have been totally committed to my training. I woke up at 4 or 5 a.m. to run on Saturday mornings with my training group, where we would chase the sunrise on the Rickenbacker causeway or run routes from sunset drive to peacock park in coconut grove. I even changed my flight so that I could get my run in one Saturday morning. I did not want to let myself down.

I hope to continue inspiring myself to reach goals I never thought I could accomplish.

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Office Specialist – Facilities Management

“I began running six years ago to get into better shape and now it has turned into so much more... This will be my fourth Miami Marathon and I am running this race to raise awareness for Every Mother Counts, a charity that helps mothers around the world access essential maternal care to prevent maternal death.

I also run to show my daughter that exercise and running is a fun way to stay healthy. She’s 2 and ½ years old now and she is already asking to go run with me at the park.”

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Freshman – Economics and Finance

“Being a student and part-time worker makes it hard to come home after a long day and run 10 miles to prepare, but I am constantly surrounded by positive energies, and that does the trick. As a tutor in the Student-Athlete Academic Center (SAAC), I see students just like me that wake up at 6 a.m. everyday to practice for a competition and put our school name on a banner.

I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and being part of a family of immigrants makes it a little harder than others. But this is what motivates me, seeing my brother (FIU Class of '17) come home after a 53-hour week with a smile, or my dad at 56 years old preparing to take the BAR exam (and pass it). I do the same – I take it upon myself to look at the positive side and motivate others as much as possible.”

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Licensing Manager – Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED)

“My primary running goal is to complete one half marathon in every state of the United States. This will be my fourth consecutive Miami Half Marathon and I run with a group of friends as part of Team Nes. Our team goal is to raise funds for research, which will be used to advance the science needed to find treatments and cure for Myotonic Dystrophy, a rare genetic disease. Our efforts benefit the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation (@CareAndACureMDF).

Run with your heart, for it is a muscle, too!

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Interim Dean of Students, University Ombudsman and Assistant Vice President - Student Affairs

“I first started training for the half marathon distance in 2014 for health and wellness. I continued the practice of training and completing half marathons for two main reasons.

First, running places me in a place of physical and mental discomfort. Every run is different because the variables always change, whether it is how you are feeling, the weather outside or the route you decide to take. How I work through that physical and mental discomfort teaches me a lot about myself and my ability to push through those challenges. I get to know myself better with every run.

Second, I am part of a running community: Team Footworks. Running allows me the time to connect with friends I have made in the program. They also hold me accountable to the goals I have set out for myself. The 2018 Miami Half Marathon marks the 18th half marathon completed since I started running in 2014.”

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Financial Analyst – Auxiliary and Enterprise Development

IT Assistant Director – Housing

We want to lead by example and show our children that what the mind proposes the body achieves, that discipline and perseverance are required to achieve what is desired.

We have two children, Leonardo (16) and Alejandro (12). Leonardo ran the half marathon with us for the second time, and we all ran the 5K where Alejandro was sixth in his category and Leonardo was ninth. Our children are swimmers and A+ students and we want to show them, their friends and their families that exercise is important and that sharing with family members is fun, as well as demonstrating that these types of activities give them strong foundations to face the vicissitudes of our current society.”

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Coordinator and Designated School Official - Office of International Student and Scholar Services

“This weekend, I ran my first half marathon at the annual Miami Marathon. My interest in running started six years ago, and this sport has become my favorite activity to do especially after I learned that your effort and adrenaline could be dedicated to support a cause.

There are three main reasons that motivated me to run this race. My first motivation is to run with purpose. My motor is ‘I Run for Education For All,’ and I track my miles by using the app Charity Miles in order to earn money for Pencils of Promise, an organization which mission is to promote global education by building schools in developing countries.

My second motivation is my family. I am dedicating this great accomplishment in memory of my aunt (Tia Chavela), who recently passed away in Venezuela, and to my cousins and uncle who I know that God keeps filling with strength, peace and unconditional love.

Lastly, my third motivation is God. There is something special about connecting with nature while you run, and I use my running time as a way of worship and an opportunity to thank Him for all the blessings in my life.”

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