10 Women Changing Running in 2022

Camille Herron sets a new world record in the 100 mile run.

1972 marked the first time that American women were allowed to register and compete in marathons, although they were required to start at separate times from men. In the decades that ensued, women fought hard for equality, visibility and representation in the sport.

Now, 50 years later, female runners in all areas of the running community are doing amazing things. From breaking records to breaking down barriers, we compiled a list of 10 women who are changing the running world right now.

Alexi Pappas runs the NYC marathon.

Alexi Pappas

Alexi Pappas is a 2016 Rio Olympian, where she set the Greek national record in the 10,000-meters. When she’s not running, she writes books and produces films. Not only did Pappas write “Bravey,” a New York Times bestselling book, she ran the 2021 New York City Marathon for fun. She started with the elite women but kept her focus on appreciating the experience and the spectators. This is almost unheard of in professional running, but if you’re familiar with Alexi Pappas, it’s no surprise. She’s is an open advocate for mental health, detailing her own struggles after her mother’s suicide. We can all learn something from Pappas about running for the pure joy of it.

Camille Herron breaks the World Record.

Camille Herron

This 40-year-old runner just broke her previous 100-mile World Record at the Jackpot Ultras in Nevada with a jaw-dropping time of 12:41:11, which averages out to just over 7:30 per mile. She also bested her previous 12-hour record with 94.5 miles. She won the race outright, beating the first male finisher by almost 30 minutes. “As a woman, you can’t be afraid that you could win the race,” she said in an interview afterwards. Herron is just one of several commanding female runners that have inspired more women to brave the ultra running world.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Youngblood

Jay Ell Alexander.

Jay Ell Alexander

Not only is Alexander passionate about running, she’s eager to share that passion with others. In 2018, Alexander became the owner and CEO of Black Girls RUN!, an organization that encourages and motivates Black women to get and stay active. Fast forward to today, and Black Girls RUN! has over 50 communities across the country, bringing women together to increase diversity and representation throughout the sport. Alexander pays it forward as the Chair of the Black Girls RUN! Foundation, the charitable arm of Black Girls RUN!

Jocelyn Rivas

Jocelyn Rivas completes her 100th marathon.

Jocelyn Rivas was born in El Salvador with a broken spine, neck and feet. Her disability was so severe that doctors told her mother she may never walk normally. But in November 2021, she became the youngest runner to complete 100 marathons at just 24 years old. Rivas is a DREAMER and a DACA recipient, and is passionate about inspiring the Latino community through her running. “By the time I completed marathon 25, I became less concerned about proving a point for DREAMers, and wanted more to inspire people to start their health journey. It could be running, it could be another sport, but I wanted people to know that it’s possible, and maybe, if they see that I can do it, they’ll know anyone else can do it too,” Rivas said in a 2021 interviewwith Fleet Feet.

Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher

After a successful career including a World silver medal and two Olympic teams, Goucher has brought a much needed perspective to sports commentating. She commentated the NBC broadcast of the US Olympic Trials and the Track and Field events in Tokyo. Having a female athlete providing her expert opinions and insight into the competitions proved valuable, and Goucher was joined by former sprinting sensation Sanya Richards-Ross. Goucher also spoke out on the abuse she suffered while part of the Nike Oregon Project under Alberto Salazar, leading the way for other athletes to come forward.

Keira D'Amato breaks the American women's marathon record.

Keira D’Amato

D’amato had an impressive collegiate career at American University, earning several All-American honors in track and cross country. After a brief professional stint, she hung up her running shoes, got married and had two children. She returned to competitive running after a long hiatus and, after running a 2:22 at the 2020 Marathon Project, she signed a contract with Nike. She insisted on keeping her training routine the same and continued to work as a real estate agent. This January, she broke the American women’s marathon record at 37 - a record that stood since 2006. D’Amato has proven that it’s never too late to realize your dreams.

woman wearing sweatshirt and hat

Maria Solis Belizaire

When Maria Solis Belizaire went looking for a running group in New York City, she found they all had one thing in common - there were almost no other runners who looked like her. Belizaire was inspired to create a safe space for the Latino community to run together, connect with the community and change misconceptions about what a “runner” looks like. In 2016 she founded Latinos Run, and shortly after launched Latinas Run. Belizaire’s passion and dedication to increasing Latino representation in the sport has paid off, as the organization now has over 25,000 runners all across the country and abroad.

Molly Seidel.

Molly Seidel

After a second place finish at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in her first ever marathon, Seidel claimed bronze in the Olympic marathon at her third crack at the distance. This signaled a major comeback for women’s distance running in this country, as no American woman has medaled at the Olympic marathon since Deena Kastor’s bronze in 2004. Seidel’s journey to the top of the marathoning world hasn’t been easy, as she struggled with OCD and disordered eating during her college career at Notre Dame. She’s won the hearts of fans across the world with her honest candor, hilarious jokes and love of corgis.

Sara Hall runs at the Olympic trials.

Sara Hall

Hall has been running professionally for almost two decades, far longer than any other American woman currently on the pro circuit. Originally a middle distance runner, she excelled in the 1500-meter and 5,000-meter races. Hall has been open and honest about her struggles throughout her career, often noting that things have not come easy for her. But her perseverance and resilience has led her to 11 U.S. titles, 2 World Major Marathon podium finishes and, most recently, a new American women’s half marathon record of 1:07:15. Hall, a 38-year-old mother of 4, is changing the narrative about what women and mothers are capable of.

Sydney McLaughlin

Sydney McLaughlin

Sydney McLaughlin has been a standout track athlete since her high school days in New Jersey. She represented Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics at just 16 years old. While she didn’t make the Olympic final in 2016, she brought home a gold medal and set a new world record at the 2020 Games, becoming the first woman to run the 400M hurdles in under 52 seconds. In an interview after the race, she said she thinks she and her competitors are only scratching the surface of what’s to come in women’s hurdling. When McLaughlin steps on the track she pushes both herself and her competitors, elevating women’s hurdling to new heights.

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