photo: Nadia Ruiz/Marissa Pina, Vivala

Nadia Ruiz, more simply known as Nadia the Runner on her blog, is so badass, it almost hurts.

As a competitive runner and triathlete, Ruiz has run more than 100 marathons and competed in over 350 races total, including five Ironman triathalons. The Ironman competition is one of the most intense triathalons in the world, including a 26-mile run and a 112-mile bike course. In summary: super intense, and not for the faint of heart or muscle.

Ruiz was inspired to start at the age of 14 after seeing her first Ironman competition. “I was inspired by these people and their stories — who they were, how they were struggling with their lives with whatever they were dealing with, but they put themselves on the line to achieve a goal, to watch it unfold. It’s amazing to see what our bodies can do, what we can do while we are struggling,” she said. 

To achieve her marathon goals, she also took up cross-country and boxing. With encouragement from her father, she competed in her first Ironman competition when she was in middle school, completing the running portion completely. Since then, she has inspired family, friends, and others to start running as well. “My whole family is supportive, but my father and I really bond over running, he’s really the one who understands the passion because we share that same passion.” Today, Ruiz, 31, trains vigorously, running three times per week, hiking, and cycling. 

In 2013, Ruiz applied to be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest woman to run more than 100 marathons. Although she didn't win — that honor goes to U.K. resident Elizabeth Tunna, who won the record in 2011 at age 24 — Ruiz is still proud of her accomplishments.

One of the most difficult marathons Ruiz has ever faced is the Inca Trail Marathon in Peru. Most runners camp out halfway through the race and finish the next day, whereas Ruiz was able to complete the race all at once. But her favorite marathon is the New York Marathon because of the palpable energy and the strong, positive vibes that the marathon has. “There’s so many spectators, and people from around the world are running in this race," she says. "You feel so empowered and encouraged. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.” 

Outside of running, Ruiz is a high school biology teacher, coach, marketing consultant, and motivational speaker. What’s next for her? “I want to run through all the national parks!” she says. “I want to see what this world has to offer and continue exploring all the beauties of nature.”