This Latina Broke The Marathon World Record At Just 16 Years Old And We’re Starting To Think She’s A Super-Human

At 12, Blanca Ramirez broke a global marathon record. At 16, she’s running to top her only competition: herself.

In 2015, The La Puenta, Calif.-based teen became the youngest female runner to complete seven marathons in seven different continents, running in Rwanda, New Zealand, Paraguay, China, France and Antarctica.

Her interest in international marathons started when she was 10 years old. She had just completed a long-distance running race in Disneyland and was hungry for more. She told her dad she wanted to beat the world record, but he thought she was joking at first.

“It seemed like it was something impossible,” her father Dimas Ramirez told NBC News. “I told her to prove to me she could run a marathon. She ran a 5K, then a 10K and-a-half marathon and then I let her do the Los Angeles Marathon.”

After proving to her dad that she’s fully capable of running around the world, and beating records while she’s at it, the Mexican-American teen is doing it once more — this time with the accompaniment of her younger brother.

Jordan, 9, completed his first marathon in Australia at age 8. He then ran in Egypt, crossed Europe off his list when he did 26.2 miles in London and then took to Thailand. Now, he and his big sis are headed to Antarctica and then South America. He plans to finish off in the US next April.

For Blanca, who has already accomplished the task her brother faces, joining him has been a way to show support and have some fun competition.

“At the end, we try to have a competition of who can cross the finish line first, even though we’re standing next to each other,” she told KTLA 5. “So we can be still next to each other, but I’ll make sure my foot passes it first.”

As for their dad, he’s proud of both of his children meeting their goals — but he’s also looking forward to it for reasons of his own.

“Dad’s very exhausted and I need a break,” he said. “Or they need to pick another sport.”

Read: This Indigenous Woman From Mexico Ran An Ultramarathon In Huaraches Sandals And Won Big

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The Latina-Founded Group ‘Running Mamis’ Allows Mothers Of Color To Stay Active And In Community

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The Latina-Founded Group ‘Running Mamis’ Allows Mothers Of Color To Stay Active And In Community

Mountains of diapers and hungry mouths to feed can be the reason why self-care and fitness fall by the wayside for many mothers. Because most childfree friends cannot relate, mommy groups — online and IRL — can be a godsend, but Latinas and other mamis of color who could benefit from the advice and commiseration a mommy group offers are having a hard time finding spaces that reflect their experiences, language and culture.

Prior to her pregnancy, Jo Anna Mixpe Ley was an avid runner. When she wasn’t jogging across bridges that connect Los Angeles’ historically Latino eastside neighborhoods to the once-gritty-now-gentrified downtown with her running crew, the Boyle Heights Bridge Runners, Ley was training for and running in marathons. She continued to run throughout her pregnancy, but when she searched for a mommy and me fitness class in her neighborhood after giving birth to her now 11-month-old daughter, she came up short.

“There wasn’t another mommy running group in the area, so I went to the westside to do an exercise class and it was cool, but I was literally the only Latina in the group,” said Ley, who after coming to that realization, felt compelled to ask the señoras taking care of other women’s children in a playground nearby if she would be judged by the women in the class.

(Photo courtesy of Running Mamis)

“Luckily, they didn’t judge me, but it was a really harsh reality to see. I mean, you know there is a lack of access for women like me, but to actually experience it was a whole other thing,” she told FIERCE.

The lack of Latina mommy groups pushed Ley and a small group of mujeres from Los Angeles’ eastside to start Running Mamis in March. The group has grown to include 15 mothers between the ages of 25 and 45 who meet twice a month to run, jog or walk with their babies and toddlers in tow. In addition to running, the group incorporates other activities, like circuit training, wellness classes and salsa night playdates for mamis and babies — all free of charge.

L.A.’s eastside is made up of mostly low-income predominantly Latino neighborhoods, where affordable fitness centers are lacking, green space is limited and dated infrastructure makes the streets unsafe for runners, so the moms decided to meet at the Los Angeles Historic State Park, a 32-acre space that is easily accessed from the eastside and downtown.

“We needed a safe space to run with strollers, but it’s also about creating a safe open space for women to share their birthing and postpartum experiences, breastfeeding and the struggles of being a mom,” said Ley of the group, which uses their Instagram account to share deals and discounts they find on jogging strollers and resources in the community.

(Photo Credit: Raquel Zamora)

The women have expressed their appreciation for having a group in their neighborhood, said Ley, but some come from as far as 20 miles away on Los Angeles’ congested freeways to meet up with other mothers of color, not only to run, but also for the community that’s been created.

“It’s a no-judgment zone. If you forget a diaper, nobody is going to think you’re a bad mom. We want to create these spaces where you’re comfortable enough to say my kid has a soggy ass diaper and nobody judges you,” said Monica Perez, a community organizer and mother of three.

Birthing experiences can affect a mother’s mental health and, as a result, her fitness routine. Such is the case for Running Mami Raquel Zamora. It took her more than a year to start running again after giving birth because of postpartum depression.

“I was expecting to have a natural birth, and when I didn’t, I was really disappointed. The healing process takes so much longer with a C-section, so it took me a while, but having this group has helped,” said Zamora, a mental health therapist and mother of a two-year-old toddler. “Its for my own mental health.”

(Photo Credit: Jo Anna Mixpe Ley)

The group is continuing to grow organically. Workshops and events transpire as the mamis express their wants and needs. In May, the Running Mamis were the only team that ran the Moms Helping Moms 5k with strollers. Since then, they have signed up to do three marathons as a group in October.

Their good fortune to be able to bond with their children while running does not go unnoticed by the moms. At a recent gathering, they set an intention before their run for the undocumented immigrant mothers and children being separated at the border.

“Knowing that everything is connected and us being able to be with our children in that way, in that space, is really special, and acknowledging that currently there are people who can’t do that is important, so we were able to dedicate the last run to them,” said Zamora.

Ultimately, that is why Ley created the space: for mamis of color to be there for each other and for themselves.

“A lot of times when you become a mom you feel like your body is not even yours anymore. It takes a while for moms to reclaim their bodies, so it’s great to see moms putting themselves first again and thinking about self-care, their bodies and their health,” said Ley.

Read: Not Seeing Women Represented In Extreme Sports, This Colombiana Skater Created An All-Girl Collective In Bogotá

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Watch This Afro-Latina Teen Blow ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judges Away With Her Rendition Of ‘Natural Woman’


Watch This Afro-Latina Teen Blow ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judges Away With Her Rendition Of ‘Natural Woman’

On Tuesday, Amanda Mena got the last laugh. The Afro-Latina teen, who had been teased as a child for not speaking English, received the Golden Buzzer on America’s Got Talent — soaring high over her bullies in front of a national audience.

The Boston-based 15-year-old dominicana wowed the celebrity judges with her cover of Aretha Franklin’s classic “Natural Woman.”

“Do you know what you have, Amanda?” asked judge Simon Cowell. “You have genuinely natural soul. You really, really do. I mean, that’s not an easy song to sing. This is an audition we’re going to remember for a long time, Amanda.”

Spice Girl Mel B agreed. “Oh my gosh, where do I start? That was just incredible. I’ve got all goose pimples all over, it’s just crazy. I love you, I love your voice, and this is what I’m going to say to all those bullies,” she said, before pressing on the buzzer that set off confetti and Mena’s place in the show’s live rounds.

Mena, who cried with her mother and Mel B onstage, is not new to talent competitions. When she was 11 years old, she won “La Voz (The Voice) Kids” on the Spanish-language network Telemundo, and how she’s prepared to take on AGT.

The show’s Instagram referred to it as “the most magical moment” of Mena’s life.

Watch Mena’s effortlessly powerful and beautiful performance above.

Read: Meet The Latina Teen Whose Powerful Shirt Designs Are Being Worn By Celebs Like Frank Ocean

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