Ultramarathon runner leads a binational 23-mile run on Sunday in honor of the victims of the El Paso mass shooting


Luis Martinez will take athletes from Europe and America on a jaunt designed to highlight the courage of the victims and the unity of the El Paso Juarez community

JUAREZ, Mexico (border report) – A spinal injury nearly paralyzed Luis Martinez 20 years ago. But after two operations, the Juarez resident went to rehabilitation on foot. Step by step, walking became jogging and then long-distance running.

Then came the fateful morning of August 3, 2019, when the then 48-year-old engineer drove past the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso on his way back to Juarez and heard police sirens and pandemons.

“I thought it was a robbery. But when I got to my parents’ house and turned on the TV, it was indescribable, ”Martinez said of the pictures of crying witnesses and ambulances taking away the bodies. “El Paso and Juarez are one community, one family. So you feel the pain, the agony, even if your relatives weren’t involved. “

Martinez walked to the makeshift memorial behind Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall the day after an armed man allegedly racially motivated killed 23 people and injured 23 others. He recalls grimacing in pain when confronted with the victims of the people at the scene of the tragedy. Then he decided to honor her memory by running away.

Martinez started in August 2019 alone from his neighborhood near the Zaragoza Bridge to the El Paso Walmart. The next year some of his friends in Juarez and another group joined him as he crossed the US border. On Sunday morning, Martinez and runners from Juarez, El Paso, Canada, Spain, Argentina and Mexico will set out on a 23-mile binational run to honor the victims.

“It’s a mile for every victim. It’s not about (the runners), it’s about the victims and their families. I know it is inevitable that they will remember the pain (on the anniversary), but we are running for their courage. Some died heroically to protect loved ones. I want people to remember that, ”said Martinez.

The runners plan to broadcast the highlights of the race this Sunday from 6 a.m. on social media using the hashtags #ichallengeyou, #TeReto and #JuarezFuerte Memorial at 11.

“We hope the public can come to us either in Juarez or El Paso, or simply show their support by sounding their car horns,” he said.

Martinez said that running still gives him pain, especially in long distance races. He ran 50- and 100-mile ultramarathons to raise awareness of social causes such as poverty and hunger in indigenous regions of Mexico.

“I’ve run these in Texas and California. We drove from Colorado to the (western Sierra Madre) Tarahumara Mountains. Once we drove along the Mexican border from Tijuana to Tamaulipas, ”he said. You can find photos of these races on his Facebook wall. “When you feel the pain with every step that you dig deep into yourself, you ask why you are doing this. […] If you run to help others or to draw attention to a good cause, you will find strength. “


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