Daniel Marin Medina On How He Wants To Change Representation In The Running World
“The future of running is inevitably brown, and queer, and femme, and nonbinary.”
We sat down with Columbia born Daniel Marin Medina and talked about his passion for running, how he sees the future of running and his. After living in the US for 18 years, he relocated to Berlin not too long ago and has started multiple workshops for people of color and the queer community. Daniel thinks that there is a massive underrepresentation of queer people and people of color in the running world and that it is an industry, like so many others, mostly dominated by white straight males. His mission is to make the running world a more inclusive and accepting space for everyone no matter their skin color, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Daniel, when did you start being interested in running?
I started running when I was eleven years old. I had just moved to the south suburbs of Illinois and found myself desperate to try and change the possibility of being called out for my skin color, for being an immigrant, for being skinny. There was a girl who was known for being a runner and the confidence she gave off was something I hoped to have too so I started running!
In which ways do you think your sexuality, your running and artistic side combines?
At this point, they have all blended into each other. Running played a critical role in the development of my sexuality and it offered me the opportunity to feel powerful in my body. Running also allowed me to retain a certain amount of control over my body that, at that age, was something very few young queer kids have access to. Competing against other men allowed me a real awareness of my body, it’s desires, and my sexuality that would spill over into my art and the questions I wanted answered.
How does it feel to spread more awareness about the BETRUE movement?
I have been fortunate enough to be in a couple of Nike projects at this point, but the BETRUE initiative is by far the most important to me. BETRUE is about visibility and visibility is the most important political tool marginalized people have at their disposal. To think that a young, brown, queer kid could look at those photos and see a new potential future as a runner makes me endlessly happy. When I was young it was very difficult to imagine a future where I could not only be happy but thrive in the decision to be queer. My hope is that through the BETRUE initiative I’ve been able to show some young, queer friends that it’s possible.
How has Berlin impacted you as a runner?
Running has come in surprising waves and the Berlin wave is no different. I moved to this city because of the Berlin Marathon. I had become comfortable in my life in New York and not in a way that moves your life forward. After finding out I had been accepted into the Berlin marathon, the wheels began turning on the idea of living here. I can honestly say I am more in love with running than ever before. It has always delivered the best people into my life.
Where in Berlin do you feel most inspired to go running and why?
I’ve recently rediscovered a love of running in the woods. Grunewald has brought me back to the feeling of high school cross country running where it was just me, my breathing, and some trail beneath my feet. Nothing beats just running through the woods with some friends.
What inspired you to create the WAYV collective with Thi Minh Huyen Nguyen?
The Wayv Run kollektiv came out of the necessity to create space that we both didn’t see existing. The future of running is inevitably brown, queer, femme and nonbinary, and both Huyen and I wanted to set the groundwork for those changes to start happening. It is important for us to create safe spaces where runners like us, runners not yet directly represented in the running narrative are being highlighted by the sport, can meet and share experiences and empower each other to find success both in running and in life.
How has running empowered you?
Running has ingrained the simple lesson of: “if you work hard, you’ll see the results.” Running is simple and easy, but it demands respect and time and hard work. Running has allowed me to feel my best and my worst and pushed me to dig a little deeper, even when you think there’s nothing else in the tank. All of these lessons apply to life. Running is a beautiful thing, it really is.
You’re running the Berlin Marathon this year. Tell us about your training experience so far. How do you keep yourself motivated?
I am! Oh man, I am. I have fallen deeply into the marathon grind and I am pushing harder than ever, honestly. I’ve become really good at sabotaging my efforts and giving myself excuses to have bad races. This time around though, there will be no such scenario. My father is coming to Berlin for the first time to watch me race and I need to put on a show for the old man. I have a team to push me, I have people all throughout this city to train with, and I have the motivation of knowing my dad will be out there on the streets cheering me on to give me all the energy I need for a successful marathon.
What’s your Nike running shoe of choice and what will you wear for the Berlin Marathon?
I will be running in the BETRUE version of the Nike Next% - it’s the fastest shoe in the gayest colorway. Honestly, it’s so pretty it hurts. There is this important part of the race, this peacocking that happens before the start where everyone is sizing up the competition. I try to be as visible as I can in these scenarios by placing pink triangles on my shorts and singlet but this time I get to add this ridiculous shoe to the mix! I’m so excited! It all comes down to visibility, to “BETRUE”, to take up space and to embrace the politics of putting this body in motion. It’s really cool to have a shoe that aligns with all of these aspects. I mean, if this shoe doesn’t get me a running husband, I don’t know what will.
QUEER QUONTENT DAY 3 Thankful to have met this treasure, @arigato_st_laurent - an incredible dancer, an unapologetically, queer poc, and someone who managed to give my old, gay ass some sound advice: care less about what people have to think and choose my happiness first. If you can't make the BETRUE run tomorrow, definitely please absolutely check out his voguing workshop. 📷 @tomblesch #betrue #untilweallwin #wayvrunkollektiv #wrk #getthesecookies #pride #lgbtqiapride #csd #christopherdayparade #berlin #running #laufen #correr #nikeberlin #runberlin #nike #nikerunning #runner #running #danielrennt #queerrunning #lgbt #gay #queer #lstcnyc