Brenda Martinez

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brenda Martinez
2016 US Olympic Track and Field Trials 2548 (28178575311).jpg
Martinez at the 2016 Olympic Trials
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing the  United States
World Championships
Silver medal – second place 2013 Moscow 800 m
World Relay Championships
Gold medal – first place 2014 Nassau 4×800 m relay
Silver medal – second place 2014 Nassau 4×1500 m relay

Brenda Martinez (born September 8, 1987) is an American middle-distance runner and Olympian. Born in Upland, California, she won a silver medal in the 800 meters at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow[1] and finished first in the 800 meters at the 2014 Diamond League Final. She represented the US at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships in the 1500 meters. Martinez twice set the world record in the Distance Medley Relay at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston; first on February 7, 2015 and then breaking her own record on January 28, 2017. [2][3] In 2016, Martinez qualified for the U.S. Olympic team competing in the 1500 meters after beating Amanda Eccleston by 0.03 seconds.

Her training is meticulously planned by veteran coach Joe Vigil and assisted by Martinez's husband and former Concordia University (California) runner, Carlos Handler. In 2015, along with her husband, she started Big Bear Track Club, a nonprofit, working with post-collegians to help develop American distance runners into world-class athletes. Their first recruited was Boris Berian.

High school[edit]

Martinez attended Rancho Cucamonga High School, graduating in 2005. She was a four-year letter winner in track and cross country where she was coached by Carlton Austen. Martinez was the school record holder in the 1600m (4:55), 800m (2:16), two mile (11:12), and three mile (17:28). She also ran with the West Coast Gazelle Track Club.

College career[edit]

Martinez ran collegiately for University of California at Riverside ("UCR") from 2006-2010, where she was coached by Joe Vigil. She is a three time All-American. She earned Big West All-Conference honors in 2007, 2008 and 2009. She finished second at the 2009 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 1500 meters and ninth in the 800-meters at the USA Track and Field Nationals.

Martinez was named the 2009 Big West Track Athlete of the Year and while at UCR was recognized seven-times as the Big West Athlete of the Week.

She established several outdoor UCR school records including the women's 800m (2:02.34), 1500m (4:13.58), and 5000m (16:27.51) events. She was a member of UCR's outdoor distance medley relay team that set the record for fastest time in program history with a time of 11:13.72. Martinez also set indoor school records in the mile (4:39.58) and 3000m (9:17.60) events and was a member of UCR's indoor distance medley relay that set the school record with a time of 11:29.34.

In 2008, Martinez was named UC Riverside Female Athlete of the Year. That same year she participated at the US Olympic Trails held in Eugene, Oregon where she finished 6th in the semi-finals of the 800-meters.

Professional career[edit]


In 2010, Martinez signed a professional contract with New Balance.[4]


In 2012, Martinez finished second in the 1500 meters at the USA Indoor Championships in addition to winning the U.S. Open Mile indoors at Madison Square Garden. She also won titles at the 5th Avenue Mile (4:24.2 road PR) and the Falmouth Mile (4:26.76, fastest female Miler in 2012 on the track).


At the 2013 IAAF World Championships at 800-meters in Moscow, Martinez ran a spectacular final 100-meters surging from 6th place to 3rd to capture the bronze medal in 1:57.91; a personal best. She finished one-tenth of a second behind Russia's Mariya Savinova (1:57.80), who grabbed the silver. The race was won by Kenya's Eunice Sum in 1:57.38. With her 3rd place finish, Martinez became the first American female to medal in an outdoor World Championship 800-meters event. In 2017, Martinez's bronze medal was upgraded to silver after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) banned Savinova and stripped her of both her World Championship medals (2011 and 2013) and her Olympic gold medal from 2012 for using a performance enhance drug.[5][6][7]

At the inaugural IAAF World Relays 2014 hosted by the Bahamas in late May, she anchored the women's 4x800 to a gold medal and U.S. record (8:01.58) and also was a member of the 4x1500 silver medal team. In 2013, she won the 2013 B.A.A. Invitational Mile in 4:51.4 on the streets of downtown Boston the day before the storied Boston Marathon. She was also a member of the U.S. record setting 4x800m team at the 2013 Penn Relays; the team collectively smashed the old mark by 13 seconds with their 8:04.31.


In a thrilling distance race at the 2015 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix at Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center on February 7, 2015, Martinez caught Nicole Tully of the NY All-Stars in the final meters to win the distance medley relay in 10:42.57. Tully finished in 10:42.79. The New Balance quartet’s winning time set a world record smashing the old-world record of 10:50.98. Besides Martinez, the American team included Sarah Brown, Mahogany Jones and former Dartmouth College track star, Megan Krumpoch.[8][9] Their times were: Brown (1200m - 3:15.54), Jones (400m - 53.59), Krumpoch (800m - 2:05.68) and Martinez (1600m - 4:27.77).[10]


On March 12, 2016, Martinez won the 2016 USA Indoor 1500-meters title (her first) in Portland, Oregon, clocking 4:08.37. Later than year, Martinez qualified to run in two events at the US Olympic Trials, her specialty, the 800-meters and her secondary event, the 1500-meters. She missed out qualifying in the 800-meters when she tripped over another runner finished seventh in the final in 2:06.63.[11] In the lead up to the final, Martinez ran two superb preliminary heats where she finished first in both (2:00.85 and then 1:59.64). She bounced back finishing third in 4:06.16 in the 1500-meters, diving at the finish line to earn her first Olympic team berth. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, in her preliminary heat, she finished third in 4:11.74, but failed to make it out of the semi-final heat where she crossed the line in 12th place with a 4:10:41. In an interview with World Athletics, Martinez said of her Olympic performance, "“To race six races in 10 days was one of the hardest challenges I’d faced in my career. I was on a high, but by the time I got to the Olympic Games I had nothing left and I was completely drained. The motivation was still there, and I hoped that once I got to Rio I would be fine, but that wasn’t the case. Looking back, competing in my first Olympic Games was a great learning experience and after I took my end-of-season break I decided to approach training and racing a little differently. I took on an attitude that I had nothing to lose in training and I think that has also been reflected in my racing, where I have adopted a less conservative approach."[12]


On January 28, 2017, Martinez, along with Emma Coburn, Sydney McLaughlin, and Jenny Simpson set a world-best time of 10:40.31 in the Distance Medley Relay (DMR) at the 2017 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix at Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center. Although news accounts reported it as" breaking a world record," the DMR was not recognized for world record sanctioning in 2017 by World Athletics because it was run on an indoor, banked track, rather than outdoors. Nevertheless, it was a remarkable feat, with the US track community continuing to acknowledge it as a world record. Coburn ran the opening leg (1200m, 3:18.40), followed by Powell (400m, 52.32), then Martinez (800m, 2:01.94), with Simpson anchoring the team (1600m, 4:27.66). Martinez broke her previous world best of 10:42.57 which was run at this meeting in 2015 by herself and fellow Americans Sarah Brown, Mahogany Jones and Megan Krumpoch.[13][14]

In 2017, Martinez finished 4th at the 5th Avenue Mile, setting a personal best of 4:18.4, and was runner-up at the Long Island Mile finishing in 4:28.96. On December 17th, Martinez posted on her Twitter account that she had renew her contract with New Balance saying, "I am Honored and Proud to announce that I have renewed my contract with New Balance through the end of 2020! This will mark a 10-year relationship. I can’t express the love I have for my job, forever grateful! #TeamNB4Life @NBRunning."[15]

Giving back[edit]

Martinez had spoken regularly at high schools and running camps, so her coach Joe Vigil suggested she start her own running camp for young girls. Her first camp in 2013 consisted of five California middle school and high school girls. There is no official camp name, but it can be referred to as the Big Bear Altitude Training Camp. 2017 marked the camp's fifth year.[16]

The application process consists of an open prompt essay and campers have to live in Southern California. "Picking a stack, that’s the hardest part," Martinez said, referring to her application process. The campers are not necessarily their schools' fastest runners, but that's not the point. "I want to get them to believe they can do it even when times are getting tough," she said. "They see me as an example. I share my story with them, and they share their stories with me. It’s the reason they’re at camp. Storytelling brings us together."[16]

Over the course of about three full days, the campers, coached by Martinez and a few of her friends, get to know one another over home-cooked meals, seminars, and runs. The group runs twice a day, but the focus isn't on intense workouts. Evening seminars, led by Martinez and her physical therapist, range from injury prevention to positive thinking.

Personal life[edit]

Brenda Saucedo Martinez is the daughter of Andres and Rosa Maria Martinez and has one brother and one sister. She is of Mexican American heritage and is married to Carlos Handler. In college she majored in sociology and law.[17] She was the first member of her family to attend college.[11]

Competition record[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing the  United States
2012 World Indoor Championships Istanbul, Turkey 6th (h) 1500 m 4:11.30
2013 World Championships Moscow, Russia 2nd 800 m 1:57.91
2015 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix Boston, Massachusetts 1st DMR 10:42.57[a]
2016 World Indoor Championships Portland, Oregon 5th 1500 m 4:09.57
Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 21st (sf) 1500 m 4:10.41
2017 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix Boston, Massachusetts 1st DMR 10:40.31[a]
a World record

National championships[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
2008 US Olympic Trials Eugene, Oregon 10th 800m 2:05.10
2009 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Eugene, Oregon 9th 800m 2:04.85
2012 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships Albuquerque, New Mexico 2nd 1500 m 4:15.11
US Olympic Trials Eugene, Oregon 12th 1500 m 4:10.73
US Olympic Trials Eugene, Oregon 6th 800 m 2:01.67
2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Des Moines, Iowa 2nd 800 m 1:58.78
2014 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Sacramento, California 5th 800 m 2:00.18
2015 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Eugene, Oregon 2nd 800 m 1:59.71
2016 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships Portland, Oregon 1st 1500 m 4:08.37
US Olympic Trials Eugene, Oregon 7th 800 m 2:06.63
US Olympic Trials Eugene, Oregon 3rd 1500 m 4:06.16
2017 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Sacramento, California 3rd 800 m 1:58.46

Personal bests[edit]

Event Time Date Location
Outdoor 800 m 1:57.91 18 August 2013 Moscow, Russia
1000 m 2:38.48 26 August 2012 Dubnica nad Váhom, Slovakia
1500 m 4:00.94 19 July 2013 Stade Louis II, Monaco
Mile 4:26.76 11 August 2012 Falmouth, Massachusetts
2 Miles 9:32.82 27 April 2018 Des Moines, Iowa
5000 m 15:35.65 9 March 2013 Fullerton, California
5 km 15:24 30 March 2014 Carlsbad, California
Indoor 800 m 2:00.14 20 February 2016 New York City, New York
1500 m 4:04.58 14 February 2016 Boston, Massachusetts
Mile 4:29.11 26 January 2019 Boston, Massachusetts
3000 m 9:07.99 2 February 2013 Boston, Massachusetts
2 Miles 9:51.91 2 February 2013 Boston, Massachusetts
Distance Medley Relay 10:40:31 28 January 2017 Boston, Massachusetts


  1. ^ "IAAF: Brenda Martinez | Profile". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  2. ^ Wright, P J (January 29, 2022). "US women blaze to distance relay world record". The Boston Globe Newspaper. Retrieved November 4, 2022.
  3. ^ "Brenda Martinez Interview at 2017 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix". January 28, 2017. Retrieved November 4, 2022.
  4. ^ Martinez, Brenda (January 17, 2022). "Joined New Balance in 2010". Instagram Post. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  5. ^ Reuters, Staff (February 10, 2017). "Savinova stripped of London Games 800m gold for doping". REUTERS News Agency. Retrieved November 6, 2022. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  6. ^ Kelly, Madeleine (September 16, 2019). "Brenda Martinez gets Worlds medal upgrade and bonus, six years later. Martinez is finally getting a medal upgrade and a trip to Doha that she earned in 2013". Running Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  7. ^ "Savinova stripped of London Games 800m gold for doping". Yahoo News. February 10, 2017. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  8. ^ "A World Record In The DMR, An American Record For Jenny Simpson And Treniere Moser Impresses Again". February 7, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  9. ^ "Brenda Martinez World Record Women's Distance Medley Relay - New Balance Indoor Grand Prix 2015". USA Track & Field - February 7, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  10. ^ Morse, Parker (February 7, 2017). "Willis's mile win leads the string of indoor superlatives in Boston - Martinez maintains her momentum". Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  11. ^ a b Felix, Melvin (August 4, 2016). "Latina runner Brenda Martinez to race in Rio for the U.S." Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  12. ^ Landells, Steve (July 31, 2017). "My greatest challenge – Brenda Martinez". Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  13. ^ Bellino, Meg (January 28, 2017). "Coburn, McLaughlin, Martinez, Simpson Break DMR World Record". Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  14. ^ Smith, Gary (January 28, 2017). "USA women set new DMR WR at New Balance Grand Prix". Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  15. ^ Martinez, Brenda (December 17, 2017). "Honored and Proud to announce that I have renewed my contract with New Balance". Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  16. ^ a b "Brenda Martinez: "I Appreciate My Life More Because of Them"". Runner's World. March 22, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  17. ^ Nayyar, Namita (November 12, 2015). "Brenda Martinez: World Champion in 4x800 m Relay and World Record Holder in Distance Medley Relay Reveals her Success mantra "Hard work does Pay off". Women Fitness. Retrieved November 5, 2015.

External links[edit]