Hive Spotlight

From Not Making the Cut to Chasing the National Team Dream

Brian Llamas is a Hive athlete, accomplished runner, and aspiring member of the Mexican National Track Team. We caught up with Brian to learn more of his running story and why he believes in inspiration and representation in sports.

Tell us about yourself – where are you from? And how did you get from there to where you are today?

My name is Brian Llamas and I was born in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. My hometown is considered “The Heart of Mexico” because of where its located. In my early childhood I lived in San Miguel and when I was 7 I moved to the US with my Mom and Dad. I currently live in Boulder, Colorado.

Your main sport is running, when did you start and what drew you to it?

Most of my childhood, I was passionate about the sport of soccer until high school, where things changed completely. It all started when I tried out for the district traveling soccer team, an elite team for my new hometown in Downers Grove, Illinois. I ended up not making the team because I wasn’t fast enough. From that day forward, my goal was to get faster to make the team the following year. Without knowing that my actions would be the catalyst for my entire career, I soon fell in love with running.

In my first year as a runner, I set a couple of high school records for my grade level with one of my dearest friends Ben Silver who always pushed me to be a better athlete. Another person who had a great impact with my running was William Kupisch, the head coach of my high school. He always believed in every athlete that he coached no matter their level of running. One day he told me that I could run with some of the best if I continued this path, and the rest is history.

What do you enjoy about running?

Such a simple question, but very difficult to answer for me because there are many reasons why I enjoy running. I love it because it’s such an individual and simple sport. You technically don’t need any equipment to do the sport (although shoes are nice). It’s just you and your body, pushing yourself and testing your limits. Heading out the door for a run is also my “me time.” It lets me clear my head and take a break from what’s going on in the world.

You listed your personal best mile time is at 4:01. Do you have plans to get your mile under the 4 minute mark?

I think any runner that does Track and Field will tell you that one of their goals is to break 4 minutes in the mile. It has become such a prestigious thing with runners that if you break 4 minutes you are part of this exclusive club. Yes, I have been working on breaking 4, but right now the more important thing that my coach, Patrick Peterson, and I are focusing on is bidding for a 5k spot on the Mexican National Team for the upcoming 2021 year.

Where do you hope running takes you? What goals do you have that are running related?

I’m continuing to challenge myself with running to see how far I can go in the sport. My goals are to break the Mexican 3k indoor record and to become one of the best 5k runners in Mexico. I also hope running exposes me to people I can help encourage and inspire for the next generation of Latino athletes.

What other passions do you have?

I love exploring the mountains when I’m not training. My girlfriend and I try to explore the Rocky Mountains with our dog in our free time. You can’t live in Colorado and not love the mountains. I’ve also recently taken up cycling during the pandemic this year and have had fun exploring all of the amazing climbing routes that Colorado has to offer. I’ve even jumped into a few bike races!

Why is it important to you to see others in the LatinX community running?

Not a lot of people know this, but if you look back into the running history, Latino athletes were very dominant distance runners in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, but something changed. I can’t tell you what, but we lost that dominance and I want to be part of the new generation of Latinos to bring that dominance back, to show the Latino community that we were born to run.

Many people have heard of Bolder Boulder 10k—if not, it’s the second largest 10k in the US and the fifth largest road race in the world. From 1986-1994, a Mexican athlete won the prestigious Bolder Boulder six of those times. After 1995 it has either been won by a Kenyan or Ethiopian athlete. So, Latinos are a part of the sport’s heritage!

As a minority, what would you say to youth athletes of color for getting involved in running?

It’s one of the only sports where you don’t need a team to enter a competition and test what type of athlete you are. Running is unique in that anyone can do it. All you need is a pair of shoes. Go out there and see what you can become. You may just surprise yourself.

You have a passion for helping the LatinX community know the importance of their health. Where does this passion stem from and why is it important to you?

I believe that health is important in people’s lives. I was never a lean or fit person growing up. My healthy lifestyle comes from the consistency of my running and eating habits. But more importantly I almost lost my dad due to some health issues. He had a very unhealthy diet full of sugar and processed foods. If I can help people make better choices by getting out the door and running a few minutes a day or eating healthier, I will, because you never want to see someone lose a family member due to something that you could have helped prevent.

Keep Up with Brian

Instagram: @_brianllamas