IT’S WELL PAST noon on this October Sunday, and the crowd that earlier had been in the thousands has thinned to small clumps of friends and families waiting for their favorite runners to finally pull in. The winners of the Portland Marathon came and went hours ago. A sound technician has already started dismantling the speaker system that’s been blaring PA announcements and Taylor Swift since before 6 a.m., since before the sun could unmask Mount Hood on the other side of the Willamette River.
Jocelyn Rivas, coming up Naito Parkway, doesn’t seem to notice or care that teardown coincides with her arrival. She’s 40 yards from the finish line. She’s been running for five hours and nearly 11 minutes, and yet her navy-blue compression socks remain firmly in place, her visor snug to her temples, her smile widening with each stride. And she has her iPhone extended, ready to record the finish. Sure, all’s not perfect. The hills around mile 14 had tested her sometimes-achy lower back, and she needed to stop at mile 16 to massage a cramping leg. There are no well-wishers waiting for her, either. And she hasn’t figured out yet how she’s getting home, to Los Angeles, in time for work tomorrow morning. She’ll worry about that later.
Rivas has never run this race before. Doesn’t matter. The blacktop ahead still must seem familiar. She’s about to finish her 94th marathon in seven years. Her 24th this year. Her 38th since the coronavirus pandemic all but shut down the racing world. And when she does, she’ll need just six more finishes to claim a record that a woman born the way she was should never be pursuing.
After running beneath the finishing banner, she stops to high-five a runner she met eight miles earlier. "His name was Dennis," she’ll say later, "and he said this was going to be the last marathon he ever ran." That’s definitely not her plan. She bends over for a second before moving forward to collect her race medal. Then she remembers something. "Can you take my photo?" she asks a race volunteer. She holds the medal — it’s the size of a coffee saucer — near her chin with her right hand and raises her left arm toward the banner. Her neck tilts slightly. Click . She has the evidence she came to Portland for.
Guinness World Records will want whatever documentation Rivas can supply to verify the record she’s after. They’ll want to see photos, videos and course maps from the marathons she has run, including from her first, in 2014, when she was 17; and from the five she’ll run in the weeks after Portland; and from the one she plans to run this Sunday in Los Angeles, which would give her 100 — and the Guinness record as the youngest person to ever run that many marathons.
The record has been held by a British runner, Elizabeth Tunna, who got it in 2011 at age 24 years, 351 days. Rivas […]