Lluvia Meneses is the CEO and Founder of LatinRunners. In 2013 she started looking for “running buddies” to put into practice what she had learn in a running clinic the previous years . Most of her friends were Latin women who had never run before and didn’t seem to share her passion, but she understood their fears and manage to convince them to try it once. Nine women joined her in the first session. They talked, had fun, socialized, they ran and most important they enjoyed it, so they tried a second time, and then a third and so on. That was the beginning of LatinRunners.
Lluvia is responsible for the vision, strategy and fundraising efforts for LatinRunners as it expands across the lower mainland in British Columbia. Under her leadership, LatinRunners has grown into an organization with many locations, great group of leaders and almost 200 active members.
LLuvia moved to Canada in 2008 with her husband. She is the proud mother of two beautiful girls that look up to her as the role model that she is, an avid runner and a natural leader. When she first arrived she questioned herself on whether she had actually taken the right decision. Canada didn’t feel like home and many gray days went by. She knew she had to push herself harder in order to adapt. She observed what locals were doing and was surprised to see people running under the rain and snow; they ran early in the morning, late at night and in the weekends. They inspired her and I decided to fall in love with Canada by doing what Canadians like the most: exercising!
In July 2014 Lluvia received the Sports and Athletic Achievement award at the Latincouver Inspirational Awards, a recognition for her hard work and dedication towards LatinRunners.
I have faced many challenges since the project started. Not a day goes by in which I don’t ask myself: What was I thinking when I started 10 running clubs for Latin immigrants with no funds and no other supporting organization? The answer is always the same. I was following my dreams and my passion of helping others adapt to this country. Yes, I was very naïve too, it has been a long journey with still many unanswered questions, nevertheless, the satisfaction that I get by knowing we are making a change in the life of many women, keeps me and the team going. We, not only see women become runners, we see them overcome their fears and mental barriers. When I see the happiness in their faces, sometimes the tears in their eyes and I am able to feel the beating of their hearts as they cross the finish line, just then all doubts go away. I listen to the little voice in my heart every night whispering: ‘Be strong. Don’t run away now’
In our busy, complicated lives, we all have challenges and it is up to us to decide how to overcome them. I see the challenges as big rocks in this running trail called life. These rocks can be used as blocking barriers to failure or as stepping-‐stones to success. We all have the power to use our rocks either way. I came to Canada to make a difference. I use my stones everyday for progress and for positive changes. Inspiration requires courage, passion, love, discipline and patience but it can be achieved and the proof is all around us tonight.
LLuvia (Joo-‐via) Meneses LR Founder.