#HouMarathon Ambassadors

Marcelo Valdez – @cronicasdeunrunner

I’m 34 years of age, a proud husband, father, and back of the pack runner that has been running the streets of HOU since I moved here in 2015 from El Salvador. I run to beat myself everyday.





Michelle Morton – @mic2lee

As a legacy runner of the Chevron Houston Marathon, the city’s race has been the focal point of Michelle’s race calendar since 2011.  Michelle would best define herself as an endurance athlete and a proud finisher of races ranging from fun runs to half/full/ultra marathons, and even Ironman races.  The reason she runs is because it makes her feel empowered and resilient.




Fren-Mark Banes – @fmbanes21

Fren-Mark (FM) is a runner, engineer, motivator, entertainer, and taco/sushi lover. His love for running marathons started right here in Houston, with his first Chevron Houston Marathon in 2015. He now has 13 marathons under his belt, including NYC, Chicago, Boston, and 4 other marathons outside of Houston. Houston remains as one of his favorites. Follow him on social media and join his efforts in helping make our local running event as big and exciting as possible!




Wendy Larsen – @disneyhandcyclist

Wendy is a mother to two adult children, wife to an ultramarathoner, survivor of a major trauma, cancer survivor, and lives with several rare genetic diseases that affect her mobility. A long time runner, she transitioned to wheelchair athletics in 2017 and completed her first full marathon at the Chevron Houston Marathon in 2018 as a handcyclist where she qualified for the Boston Marathon. She has qualified for Boston each year since and completed multiple marathons throughout the country, but Houston will always be her favorite race. In addition to racing, she is a volunteer and patient advocate in the rare disease community.




Veronica Flores-Paniagua – @vxflores

Veronica Flores-Paniagua is an external affairs advisor for Chevron. She’s a Corpus Christi native and a graduate of the University of Houston. When she’s not running, she’s schlepping her son to band practice or her daughter to a softball tournament.




Deborah Loreto – @deborahrunlover

Running is my life. Running has saved my soul. I live to inspire other people and show them how running can positively change their life and become the best version of themselves.





Viviano Landin – @run_with_viv

I’ve been running for about 6 years and I enjoy being outdoors. I also spend a lot of time fitness training and being in the gym. I run with many different running clubs such as, Kung Fu Running Club, (EFC) Electric Flight Crew, Harriers, City Centre Running Club and RacePace.




Christine Parizo – @runoutofthebox

Christine is a content marketing writer, run coach in training, and running and CrossFit blogger whose goal is to inspire other women to just move. She started running after the birth of her second child – and the launch of her freelance business! – to relieve stress and stay fit, which blossomed into a love of the sport. Since she started in 2012, she’s run too many 5Ks and 10Ks to count, 15+ half marathons, and one full marathon – the Chevron Houston Marathon in 2019. Her favorite distance is the half marathon, but she’s looking forward to seeing what she’s capable of this January when she tackles the marathon distance again! Christine is also an avid CrossFitter, coffee drinker, and taco connoisseur who lives in League City with her husband, two children, and two cats.




Julia Vegas – @juliavgeas

I have run 22 full marathons, including 6 Houston marathons and 3 world majors (Chicago ‘14, NYC ‘17, and Boston ‘15, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19) and have run sub 3:00 (2:58) twice. I have qualified for Boston 21 times. I work full time for Hays CISD as an elementary PE coach. I have two kids, Jackson (9) and Reagan (8). I’ll be running my 7th Chevron Houston Marathon, hoping to better my time of 2:58 that I ran in Houston in 2020.




Letty Uribe – @therunningwinemom

Letty is a mother of two girls and an avid runner from San Antonio, TX.  She has been running for 6 years and loves the marathon distance.  The Chevron Houston Marathon was her very first marathon in 2016, she qualified for Boston in 2019 and cannot wait to run her 6th consecutive Houston Marathon in 2021.   She is also looking forward to running Boston in 2020.




Joe Balderas – @lobojoe

Joe (friends know him as Lobojoe) has been running for 12 years and has coached both cross country/track & field for 5 years. His passion towards running has only grown over the years from jumping from the 5K and 10K races to later running 16 half marathons, including running over 7 marathons with Boston and NYC being 2 of them. His love for running lead to being able to help motivate students to achieve their running goals within coaching and teaching them to believe the impossible can happen when someone wants it the most. Running is a huge part of his life and it has made him the runner he is today and has allowed him to meet so many other friends everywhere along the way in his journey.


Aranzazu Foyo – @zuzu.foyo

My name is Aranzazu but everyone calls me Zuzú, I am a 36 year old Mexican, a Mom, kindergarten teacher, wife and a passionate runner, always looking for new adventures that challenge me and teach me something.




Pedro Colunga – @pedro_itslife

Pedro Antonio Colunga, a proud Houstonian born and raised in the Houston Heights area. I have been blessed with being able to conquer 14 half marathons, 3 full marathons (2 in Houston and 1 in San Francisco), and many 5K/10Ks in between. I began running about 4 years ago, with the Rodeo Run 10K as my first race ever in 2016.






Veronica Goebel – @vgoebruns

I am a native Houstonian, wife, mom of three and a runner who is actively involved in the local running community. This year I will be running my fourth Chevron Houston Marathon. I love the training process and am already getting chills thinking about race weekend – #finishlinefeels. The Houston running community is the best, and I am excited to represent, encourage and learn from all of YOU!




Taryn Jurgella – @tarynmayleen

Hundreds of miles and 11 marathons later, the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon will always have a special place in Taryn’s heart.  Crossing the finish line in 3:19:41 was just the beginning of a journey to see just how fast she could run a marathon. Under the guidance of Hardloop Endurance, the race to the finish line of the 2021 Houston Marathon is on!  Taryn, a Houston based Physical Therapist, is so excited to share her love of running with all of HOU while racing to a goal of a Sub 3 hour marathon. The most perfect thing about running is the simplicity of it: All you need is a pair of shoes and the desire to move, and your feet can take you on the most exciting adventure of your life.




JoMarie Flores – @jfloresfd

JoMarie Flores, born & raised in Houston Texas! I’ve ran for 11 years. I am a member of the Houston Striders and a Funeral Director who has served many families since 2005. I am a devoted Chevron Houston Marathon runner for 3A Bereavement and I cant wait to have HOU join me!





Glenda Newman – @glentastica

Hi! I’m Glenda and I love to run! I am a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, and avid cat lover. The Chevron Houston Marathon is my favorite race to run because the spectators and Hoopla Stations make it so much fun!




Daniel Dannug – @ddannugchiro

Daniel is a sports chiropractor and co-owner of HealthPro Chiropractic & Acupuncture. In 2017, he co-founded the Champions Running Association (CRA), a running club in northwest Houston dedicated to building a community of runners of all levels to help them achieve their fitness goals. He started running after watching his wife run the half-marathon in 2009 and he was hooked. Fast forward a decade and he just became a 10-year legacy runner for the half-marathon in 2020 and felt it was finally time to try his hand at a marathon. A Houston native and now father of four, he’s excited to take you on this journey for his first full marathon.



#HouHalf Ambassadors

Lillian Wanjagi – @slowkenyanrunner

My name is Lillian. I’m a mom, runner and higher education professional. I run to stay active and healthy but my favorite thing about running is the wonderful community it has brought in my life.  My favorite distance is the half marathon and Houston Marathon weekend is my absolute favorite.  I’ve run 8 full marathons and 25 half marathons since I started running in the fall of 2014. I have run the Chevron Houston Marathon twice (2017 and 2019) and the Aramco Houston Half marathon three times (2016, 2018, and 2020).  I’m looking forward to running the Aramco half in January 2021. I love everything about Houston Race Weekend – I trade my suburbia life and stay downtown the entire weekend with family and friends, enjoying the expo numerous times, downtown restaurants and walking to the race start on race day. I can’t wait to #RunHou with all of you.



Christin Faykus – @thefayki

I am a native Houstonian, mom of 2 small children, lawyer, karaoke aficionado, and lover of all things Houston running.  I ran my first 5K at age 8 with my dad, enticed by the promise of pancakes at the end.  That race did not go well.  I went on to run in college and though I was never front of the pack, my coach and 5-time Olympian, Francie Larrieu-Smith, nurtured my love of running. I’m very excited to run the Aramco Houston Half Marathon as a Master’s runner for the first time in 2021, and if you see me shed a tear along the way, don’t be alarmed – it’s just that the Houston marathon weekend is my favorite thing ever!


Rodrigo Velasco@rodvelbar

Hey! I’m Rodrigo, and I’m from Mexico and currently living in Mexico City. When I was a kid I used to run with my dad and he was the one that pushed me into running. It wasn’t until February 2019 when I started to run formally. In May 2019, I ran my first half marathon and then I decided I wanted a bigger challenge, and that was the Houston Marathon, my first marathon and it was awesome. I enjoyed every mile.





Kristi Blount – @kristi_blount

The 2008 Aramco Houston Half Marathon was the first race I participated in and I truly believe it was the reason I have continued to run ever since!  I started running as a form of stress relief and getting healthy and it has since turned into my passion to help others get healthy through fitness and nutrition coaching.  I am looking forward to getting to the start line in 2021 for the 9th time and getting to share the journey along the way with as many people as possible!  When I’m not running, you can find me creating and trying new recipes, playing with my 4 dogs, or out exploring Houston with my husband.



Nicole Nguyen – @kneeecol

Current travel nurse, with a Houston home base. Growing up, the “mile days” during P.E. were my most dreaded…Now here I am, running as a hobby/lifestyle! I love to encourage those who never thought they could get past that mile; as I once did. A great feeling, it is!





Landa Wright – @triwrightmum

I am a 32 year old boy mum and wife who is a golfer turned endurance lover! Running, swimming, and biking are my passion! I run because it challenges me in multiple ways. I love the example it sets for my boys and the many friends I have made along the way. It also continues to keep me very involved in my community.





Joey Battan – @runwithjoey

I changed my passion of food for my running. I have lost +100 pounds and love my new me.  Running has been one of the best decisions in life! I am free! I run because I can!





Tonya Jacks – @tonyayurgensenjacks

Tonya is a native Texan who works in technology sales for Cisco Systems.  She currently serves as a Vice President for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as Officer in Charge of six committees including the Rodeo Run.  She started running seriously about 10 years ago when it became apparent that age really does catch up with your metabolism and since then running has become ingrained in her daily routine.  One of her favorite runs is along Buffalo Bayou at daybreak with the sun coming up over downtown while accompanied by her group of longtime running friends.  If she isn’t working or volunteering, she enjoys being at the beach with her husband and three kids (the four-legged variety).


Ariana Jimenez – @jimenezariana

I have been running for 8 years. I started because I was overweight, but little by little I fell in love with the sport. I have run 5 marathons and over 50 half marathons. My last marathon was the Chevron Houston Marathon where I ran 3:30. Running is part of my family and my life.