Jocelyn Rivas is a dreamer, on many levels.
She is a DACA recipient on the cusp of completing a goal she set for herself years ago: become the youngest woman to run 100 marathons.
The Angeleno’s journey has taken her across the country. She has run marathons in 19 states. During a snowstorm in El Paso, a rainstorm in New York and sweltering heat in Dallas. Despite shin splints, cracked toenails and bleeding knees, she kept running.
“Running means everything for me. It’s literally my happiness. I call if my other half,” Rivas told KTLA.
The 24-year-old native of El Salvador will run in her 100th marathon Sunday during L.A.’s race.
It’s quite the feat in and of itself, but she’ll not only become the youngest person to reach that goal, but also the youngest woman and the youngest Latina to do it.
Rivas was born with a broken back, neck and feet. She had to be carried into the hospital the first year of her life atop a pillow, her body was so fragile. She was never supposed to walk, much less run. Doctors told her mother she would be wheelchair bound.
A year later, Rivas’ recovery began. Her mother called it a miracle. Still, she was discouraged from participating in any strenuous activity.
Then in 2013, as a spectator in the L.A. Marathon, something sparked in her that she didn’t even know existed, and she was determined to run her first marathon. She ran in L.A.’s race a year later.
In 2017, when she already had a few marathons under her belt, Rivas set the steep goal for herself. At the time, Rivas said she had reached a low point in her life. The Trump administration planned to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program policy that protected 700,000 “Dreamers” like her from deportation.
“I want to prove to people that I am here to do good,” Rivas said. “I want to inspire people to go out there to do the things I’m doing, to know that they can do it, too. There’s no limit.”
Now, along with her collection of medals, Rivas will be able to say she is a Guinness World Record holder.
“The first thing I do when I wake up, I’m usually on my side, and the first thing I see are my medals,” Rivas told marathon officials. “It reminds me of all the sacrifices I’ve done, all the hard work. It’s more a reminder of hey, you have this. This is just a reminder of how far you can get in life.”
Rivas wanted to complete her 100-marathon mission last year, but the cancelation of races amid the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in that dream. She had to squeeze multiple marathons in a short period of time. From Dec. 26 to Jan 3, Rivas ran six marathons in nine days in Florida.
“Oh, my God, I was dead,” she said about finishing that sixth run.
Sunday will be a full circle moment for Rivas, running in the city where her courageous journey began eight years ago.
After accomplishing her feat, she plans to continue running marathons, although with less frequency.