This past Sunday, the New York Times ran a great article about Keila Merino, a fourth grade teacher who also runs ultramarathons. While she clocked great times in high school and ran her first marathon in college, Merino hit her stride (quite literally) when she started smashing longer distances. While she dropped out of her first 100 mile race at mile 8, she returned with a vengeance the following year and won the Great New York 100 in 21 hours. (The 2015 running of this race just happened last weekend.)
Photo credit: Joseph Vigar. Image courtesy of Keila Merino
This summer, Merino’s gunning for a bigger challenge: she’s running across the United States. Starting July 2, she’ll clock miles from Los Angeles, California, back home to the Bronx, New York. But in addition to simply achieving this goal, she’s got records to break. In 1978, South African ultramarathoner Mavis Hutchinson set the trans-American running record with a time of 69 days, 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Image courtesy of Keila Merino
In addition to her impressive goal, Merino’s also running for a worthy cause. As she logs miles, she’ll also raise money for Back on My Feet NYC, a non-profit organization that promotes self-sufficiency through running for the city’s homeless population. Anne Mahlum founded the organization in 2007, but it has since expanded from its flagship Philadelphia chapter to 11 cities across the United States. Merino wants to to establish a women’s shelter with the money she collects.
As she treks across the States, show Keila some love! Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to track her progress and send some inspiration. If you’re able, make a donation to Back on My Feet and help support her dream of bringing a new women’s shelter to NYC.