The year was 2015. It was a typical March day in London
there was a light rainfall but the slowly climbing temperatures carried the promise of spring. Marina Martinez Sanchez was sitting at her computer when a Facebook ad popped up for a 10k bootcamp run with music and post-workouts beers. Intrigued, she sent out a quick text to her cycling friends asking if they’d be interested in trading their bikes for a pair of running shoes and trying something new.
Although Marina did not know it at the time, that little ad would completely change her life.
Since becoming a Midnight Runner, Marina has completed multiple marathons, one international swim, ran self-supported all around Iceland, met the love of her life and moved across an ocean. She’s had more adventures in the last four years than most people have in a lifetime- and she is only getting started.
Competing as a national swimmer back home in Spain, running was never really in the plans for Marina. It wasn’t until she turned 18 and decided she was tired of the hectic competition schedule and the constant travel to swim meets and practices that she realized she needed a change. When a friend who was training to become a police officer invited her to go running with him, Marina was a little uncertain and nervous but decided that it was worth a try.
Her first race was 7km, and all she remembers was it was hot. She was struggling through every scorching kilometre, but when she crossed the finish line and saw her dad waiting for her all of that pain vanished. In that moment, Marina fell in love with running.
In 2014 Marina made the courageous decision to leave her life as she knew it behind and move to London, England to work as a teacher.
In an effort to make friends in her new home, Marina started joining different running communities and cycling groups in London. And although it was Marina who convinced her cycling friends to give this crazy-sounding Midnight Runners thing a try on that fateful day in March, Marina herself did not go out to her first bootcamp run for another 6 months.
So on September 27, 2015, Marina finally attended her first Midnight Runner bootcamp run, and she has not stopped going since.
Infused with a new sense of confidence from her Midnight Runner family, Marina began asking herself why not? Why not sign up for a marathon, or do another half, or do more cycling? She realized she was capable of doing any number of challenging things. From this new vantage point, she saw that she could not lose.
This is what pushed her to sign up for the Midnight Mountain Marathon and Half Marathon - a brutal race that runs through the Brecon Beacons in Wales, where participants start at 5:30 pm and must finish before the event cutoff at midnight. To make matters more interesting, Marina signed up by mistake to run the race “Bergan Style” - meaning she had to complete the course while wearing a 25lb backpack. Marina immediately started second-guessing herself and didn’t know if she was capable of finishing the race. But the feeling was short-lived.
With that in mantra in mind, Marina bravely decided to complete the race despite feeling wholly unprepared, and to her absolute shock, she won her division. Of course the organizers of the event were quite impressed, but no one was as as impressed as fellow crew captain and Midnight Runners founder Greg, who had joined her for the race.
Since then Greg has been supporting and encouraging Marina to do any number of amazing challenges and adventures, including starting up her own charitable organization, Project Lucha.
Standing on the shore of Tarifa, Spain, Marina and her best friend Karolina were staring across the ocean at the coast of Africa and thought “Hey- we could swim there”. The two adventurous women decided at that moment that they were going to complete several international swims, and thus the idea of Project Lucha was born. The goal? To create a community of women who inspire and encourage each other to take on challenges, and to provide a platform for women to share their achievements in sport. In July of 2018 the pair completed their first intercontinental swim between Asia and Europe, with plans to complete 4 more international swims from Europe to Africa, Alaska to Russia, North America to South America and Japan to Russia. Of course, in between swims these ladies don’t laze around- they’ve both completed half marathons, marathons and triathlons, including the ominous Death Valley Marathon… which of course they did in style and won their age category! The pair have also teamed up with Project Aware, a global movement for ocean protection. To learn more about Project Lucha and to keep up with their next adventures, go to https://www.projectlucha.com/.